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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Picking a wine shop

Interested in wine? Looking for a regular shop? Here's a few tests.

First, observe the following:
1) Enter the shop dressed in your most casual clothes.
2) Walk around and don't speak unless spoken to.

Shop elsewhere if:
a) No one says anything for more than sixty seconds.
b) You get looked at with anything other than a welcoming smile or nod.
c) Everything in the shop is dusty and many many bottles and shelved standing up.

You may have a winner if:
a) Someone comes over, introduces him/herself and shakes your hand.
b) Someone says "how may I help you?" within sixty seconds.
c) Someone says "welcome, have you shopped here before?" within sixty seconds.

They do okay? Alright


Second, observe the following:
1) Enter the shop dressed in your most casual clothes.
2) Ask for a good red wine for $15 or less.
3) Await response.

Shop elsewhere if the person says:
a) "I can give you a great wine if you're willing to spend just a tad more."
b) "How about this wine?"
c) "I don't know."

You have a winner if the person says:
a) "Is this wine for you or is it a gift?"
b) "What will you be eating with this wine?"
c) "What wines have you had that liked?"
d) "If you're going to be having fish, you may want to try...."
e) "A food friendly wine that goes with anything is...."

Did they pass? Here's hoping they're swell.


Wait a couple days, return at a different time of day and observe the following:
1) Enter the shop in your most casual clothes.
2) Ask for something light but with a bit of sugar.
3) Await response.

Run away if you hear:
a) How much do you want to spend?
b) White Zinfandel is in aisle three.
c) (deep sigh) I guess you may like....

You have a winner if you hear:
a) Late harvest or German Riesling may be your thing, let me walk you over and give you some info because the labeling is tricky.
b) What are you going to be eating with this?

If they passed, you're doing alright.

Here's what you need to take away:
One cannot give an accurate wine recommendation (at a store) if they don't know in what context the wine will be consumed and/or the general tastes of who is drinking it. If a vague question is asked and a wine is recommended, why in the world should you trust them?

White Zinfandel should never be recommended. I'm not saying White Zin is bad, I am saying that if someone at a wine shop recommends it to you, they are mocking you. Sad but true.

If a budget is stated, ANY suggestion or push to get you to go over it should not be tolerated. If a recommendation for more the five dollars under what you stated is offered, that's a good sign.

Bottles of wine should be stored on their side. Inventory should be dusted frequently. Dust doesn't hurt a wine, of course, but if the shop doesn't care about that, what makes you think they care about things like storage temperature?

Wine is a luxury item that you can easily live without or buy elsewhere - if anyone at a shop gives you shit, shop elsewhere.

Since wine is a luxury item, one should not be put off (but shouldn't necessarily expect) a little bit of over the top courtesy or explanation.

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