Friday, January 28, 2011
What We're Up Against
So as someone that spends a lot of time tucked away with other wine professionals, spending most of my time dining with, drinking with, reading the language of people who do this wine thing for a living, it can be easy to forget that the average person either doesn’t know or doesn’t really care about half the stuff we rattle on and on about. I can stand there with a customer yammering about flavors, aromas and textures and I can literally see them glassing over. “Yeah, but is it good?” often what I hear after a five minute description of a particular bottle of wine. Hard to reel it in at times, especially when you are charged with writing something that will compel a consumer to try it. What do they want to know….I mean other than “Is it good?” the history, the flavors, the texture? Hard to know and honestly much like everything with wine, it’s all subjective.
I’ve gotten to where I love dealing with both the, “Tell me everything” customer as well as the, “Just give me something yummy” ones and all the ones between. Hell, I get to either wax rhapsodic about wines I dig or get to plunk a bottle in someone’s hand and save the verbiage for the newsletter and shelf talkers. It’s all good but there is one particular kind of consumer that I’ve yet to learn how to really deal with….
“Do you have that Almond Champagne?” a customer looking for the very popular Almondage sparkling wine. Hey, I don’t judge, people love it and I love selling it to them. Sure the word Champagne following the word almond might make me cringe but she’s not asking for a lesson, she’s looking to get her sweet drink on. So I lead her to the sparkling wine section and as I put the bottle in her hand she says, complete with eye rolling and heavy sigh, “Oh and can you show me a Chenin Blanc? I have to get one for a friend, she knows nothing about wine” Um….really? She doesn’t know anything?
“Oh this is a vanilla flavored wine” a customer reading a shelf talker in our Zinfandel department. “This would be perfect since I add grape juice to my wine when I drink it” kind of frozen with fear here. Do we step in and let her know it’s not flavored, that the vanilla note is merely a flavor profile not an actual flavoring or do we sell her the bottle hoping that she likes it well enough with her grape juice? In this case we waited to see if she was actually going to grab the bottle before “correcting” her….she didn’t and moved on to the Rose section. Here we go again, “Oh this would be Steve’s department” again with the rolling eyes and hoity voice. “He likes these kinds of wines” and she laughs! She laughs, vanilla grape juice lady is laughing at her friend who I am assuming drinks White Zinfandel . Awesome.
Yeah, I have a real problem with the whole wine snob business; always have, but the wine snob that has no business trying to be one? Well I’m starting to figure out how to deal with them…bite my tongue until it bleeds. Let someone else call them out on their bullshit. I can just sit back, revel in the joy that can be retail wine sales and hell, even get a little post out of it.