So I know a lot of people are a bit intimidated when they walk into a wine store, all those options, wines you’ve never tasted, things you’ve never heard of, weird labels with words like Quincy or Bourgueil rather than Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Franc…that’s a lot of “don’t know crap” but toss in the fear of wine people factor, well then it can be down-right panic inducing. As someone that works in one of those stores the idea that anyone might be afraid to walk in, well…it just makes me sad. I want everyone to feel comfortable about shopping for wine, and if you are buying your wines at the grocery store because of your fear of the unknown, then you are missing out on some really thrilling, interesting and passion inspiring flavors.
Don’t fear the wine merchant, don’t let what you have yet to learn keep you from advancing your palate. Don’t assume that the wine store is only for those “special occasion” wines or a place where only very knowledgeable shop….trust me, many of our customers don’t know shit about wine, and many of them don’t want to, they are there to have us find wines for them, you know so they don’t have to bother with gathering information they don’t feel they need just to find a yummy bottle of wine. That’s what we are here for and a great wine merchant will take the time to develop a relationship with you, learn what you love and teach you more about wine…if you are so inclined, the goal of a great wine shop is to have more people drinking, and enjoying wine, they want to give you pleasure…..well, that makes it sound like a whore house but I think you know what I mean.
Now a quick word about wine professionals, to say that there are no self inflated, information withholding, looking down their nose at you, blowhards would be a lie…they are still there, hell we had one working for us a few years ago, (for all of you that endured his shity attitude and continued to support us…Thank You and we are very sorry..he was dreadful) but their numbers are dwindling. Those tight asses are being replaced by a very passionate bunch of wine….well, wine dorks really. Wine dorks are just like any other variety dork, we gather information, collect, document our findings, basic nerd stuff right, it just so happens that the source of our particular dorkdum also gives us a buzz….sweet.
So I polled the staff, asked them which behaviors or comments made them cringe, not in an attempt to piss and moan but to help…help those of you that may be nervous or unsure how to behave in a wine store…we came up with a list, two lists actually, one specifically for attending tastings. So here you have it, The Wine Store Survival Guide or How To Not Look Like A Douche In A Wine Store.
1- Don’t ask, “Is this any good?” it implies that the retailer may have crappy wines in the store.
2- Don’t assume they are trying to screw you, they need you to come back so they wont intentionally sell you a bottle of crap wine.
3- Don’t ask, “Is it like a Merlot?” about every red wine you have never heard of. It’s not like a Merlot, it’s Sancerre rouge, I just spent 5 minutes describing the flavor profile, did it sound like a Merlot? If it did, then yes…it’s like a Merlot to you.
4- Don’t hit on the women working there, it’s not Hooters, show a little respect.
5- Don’t bring in The Wall Street Journal or Consumer Reports and tell a retailer that they should have those wines. We taste wines and bring them in, not read about them and bring them in.
6- Don’t say this, “I had this great red wine on vacation, I can’t remember the name, but it was red and really good. Do you have it?” They have hundreds of them, they will need a tad more information before they can help you.
7- Don’t let your wee ones push a cart in a wine store.
8- Don’t wait until your wines are bagged to ask for a box or to have the price tags removed, we will gladly do both but ask before we went through the trouble of bagging everything…saves everyone time.
9- Don’t say “Only chicks drink white wine” not only is that incorrect it makes you look like a jackass.
10- Don’t ask why they don’t carry something….unless you are ready to hear the real answer.
11- Don’t be afraid to tell them what you want to spend. They aren’t sizing you up or judging your bank account…they need to know in order to find you the best bottle in “that” price range.
12- Don’t go in, confess that you know nothing about wine and then run the wine specialist ragged by saying, “Okay what else” to every wine they recommend.
13- Don’t tell them that you saw such-and-such wine at BevMo for less money. Sure it happens, (lots of reasons for the price difference not the least of which is that BevMo can buy hundreds of cases…a small retailer cannot) but telling them that is not going to change the price and does little more than make you look like a douche.
14- Don’t say, “Isn’t that pink shit for women?” first of all, that “Pink shit” is drier than your Merlot and secondly there are no wines just for women…don’t be a Neanderthal.
15- Don’t ask them to hold the wines you bought at BevMo behind the counter because you don’t want them getting hot in your car while you attend their wine tasting.
For Wine Tastings
1- Don’t wear smelly junk! It messes with everyone, they are there to taste wine, not you.
2- Don’t tell the person pouring that the wine was shit. You may not like it but it isn’t shit, someone liked it enough to bring it in the store…could just be the person pouring for you.
3- Don’t treat the person pouring like a server, you’re not tipping them.
4- Don’t hit on the women pouring…it’s still not Hooters.
5- Don’t ask, (while being poured) “What does this wine taste like?” taste it and decide for yourself, we may be wine dorks but we don’t live in your mouth.
6- Don’t be a slob, mind the schmeg on your glass…cuzz, ewe.
7- Don’t ask for more wine or a bigger pour of the most expensive one.
8- Don’t bring the kiddies, not that we don’t like them but we cannot have them in the tasting area…not OUR law, but the law.
9- Don’t grill the person pouring, if you really want to know something, then ask but don’t make them give you the history of the estate, the case production and the winemakers name…especially if you have no intention of remembering it, it’s okay to just taste.
10- Don’t say, “Can I try number 6 again, I just want to make sure that is the one I want to buy” we’ve heard that one before…a billion times, might I suggest taking notes? We have a one taste per wine policy not to be dicks but because pouring extra of any wine throws the bottle count off and that costs us money…..something no wine shop can afford.
So there you have it folks, a little cheat sheet of things to avoid when shopping for wine or attending a wine tasting….hope it’s useful!
Don’t fear the wine merchant, shit…even if you committed every flub on this list they will still help you find a great bottle of wine and the really good ones, they will wait until you leave before making fun of you or calling you a douchebag……wink.
All kidding aside I hope people get out there and support their independent retailers, it’s rough right now for them folks, just think about how much more the small retailer needs that $10.00 over the Vons or Ralphs which can and will survive on the other products they carry. If you want that store to still be there when you need that “special occasion” wine or gift then please keep in mind…..they need you now.
And that concludes this Public Service Announcement….I’m off to get a glass of girlie pink shit.