Wine Talk

Snooth User: rolifingers

Featured wines

Posted by rolifingers, Sep 6, 2011.

I have found that when I walk into a wine store and find a huge display of one particular wine with all the hoopla of how good this wine is and how great of a deal it is, the wine usually winds up to be a lemon.

I think that some wine merchants know when a certain wine just sucks and they push it to the forefront with a big display area and false tasting notes and try to get it out the door.

Is it me, or has anyone else noticed ?

 

Replies

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Reply by smithdaj54, Sep 7, 2011.

I find this to be hit and miss, and heavily depends on the store.  If you're talking supermarkets such as Costco and big box national chains, I would tend to agree.  They definitely seem to push what they bought too much of.  But, more local supermarkets usually have great features, just ran by a Washington one the other day (New Seasons in Portland)...Hogue and Chateau Ste. Michel were featured, got some solid wines.

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Sep 7, 2011.

Yeah, I agree that I've found it to be per store. If you find a store you trust, you can pretty much win every time. In a crappy store, caveat emptor...

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Reply by 1 jayjay, Sep 7, 2011.

Well you must remember that everyones taste differs

My wineman has always said if you dont like it i'll change it and as yet i have not changed a bottle. If you use a good store and ask for their help they soon get to know your taste, you will not be disappointed

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Sep 7, 2011.

Well, I work in a wine store.  In fact, I basically run the store.  When I feature a wine, it's usually because I'm passing a great discount from the distributor on to the customer.  For instance, I recently got an awesome deal on five cases of one of the most popular Chardonnays I carry, and it's a very nice wine.  Normally, it's priced at $22.99/bottle.  This week, I'm featuring it at $15.99. 

 

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Reply by rolifingers, Sep 12, 2011.

I should start shopping where you work ScottLauraH. I remember walking into a wine shop and holding in my hand a bottle of Chablis, one of the shop employees walked by me and said " Oh yeah, that's a really good wine for the price", so I took her word for it and when I got the wine home and tried it, it really sucked ! It was like sucking on lemon heads. I rather be honest and keep a customer than try to make a sale and lose a clients respect.

It seems like you have better ethics ScottLauraH, I like your type.

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Reply by rolifingers, Sep 12, 2011.

jayjay, you are blessed to have a trust worthy wineguy.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 12, 2011.

Your local good, small wine shop should be trustworthy.  If they know their business at all, they know that wine is a repeat purchase item.  If they don't push bad wine on you, you'll be back.  If they are generous with you, you'll take a chance on more expensive bottles.  If they take the time to learn what you don't like, as well as what you do, they will sell you a lot more wine.  And wine buyers buy, typically, a lot of wine compared to other things (at $8-20 a bottle, a bottle lasting a meal or two, we spend MORE on wine than food at home). A good wine store not only gets a lot of business from its best customers, but gets a lot of referrral from those customers.  They operated under the same rules of commerce--sell the high margin stuff first--but the leverage they have with good customer relations is extraordinary.  I buy from about five places, usually, and two or three of them (counting one online retailer) really shine above the rest.  Why?  Because they are small and have intense knowledge of what individual customers like. Even the wine shops and sites I use less benefit by treating me well, because I recommend them to occasional buyers in the scores. Anyone who walks in the door could be sending them a dozen customers.  Even here on Snooth, some of our friends have bought from my favorite merchants because I recommended them.  And vice versa.

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Reply by rolifingers, Sep 13, 2011.

I agree with you 100 percent Foxall.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 13, 2011.

Roli:  Which is why I just don't understand why some shops still don't get it.  Of course, smaller shops with fewer employees are more likely to know their customers, but K&L and the like collect so much data on me they could do quite a bit, too.  I think it also helps to check out a wine shop when it first opens, since they will appreciate you all the more and will have a good sense that others found them through you.  If I ran a wine shop (but I'm not that crazy), I would ask every customer if they were recommended by someone and I'd keep track of it and give discounts based on referrals.  I'd also work really hard to remember names and faces and ask all my employees to do the same.  Hard, but important.  From the customers point of view, I'd encourage them to tell us when a bottle fell a little short and make notes.  I'd keep buyer cards on file in alpha order with frequent buyer discounts and notes of what they had liked, or didn't like. 

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Sep 13, 2011.

@Foxall, the discount based on referrals is a great idea.  Maybe I will take that idea to my boss. 

@Roli, I wish I could say that this was all based on ethics, but it's also just smart business.  Our wine shop is the ONLY wine shop in town.  In fact, we are the only wine shop in any town at all for at least a 35 mile radius in any direction.  If we did not carry a wide variety of GOOD wine at a wide variety of prices, we would be put out of business VERY quickly.

This area is largely a resort area located on the Chesapeake Bay.  A lot of people that come in to the shop, especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day are only in town for the week or the weekend.  In those cases we really take our time helping them make their wine selections, knowing that good wine will enhance their vacation and that they will remember us next summer.

Another large part of our population is part time residents with weekend homes on the water.  These folks come down from Washington, D.C. several times a month and many of them are regulars at our tastings and come in at least once a visit.  More and more, they are starting to get their wine from us and take it back to their permanent home, because the service we provide. 

As for the full time locals, word of mouth is absolutely key.  This town cannot be described as anything but tiny.  Main Street is less than one mile long, and we only have approximately 1,100 permanent residents.  Those 1,100 people are who we depend on to stay in business from September to May, so we cannot afford to dupe them in any way.  The wines we sell have to be good and our recommendations have to be honest.

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Reply by rolifingers, Sep 13, 2011.

ScottLauraH I agree, Foxall has great ideas on keeping customers coming back, and in your defense, it is awesome that you being the only wine shop for miles are not taking advantage of this situation but still are passing on savings to your cliental and respecting them as customers.

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 14, 2011.

Yes, Roli, I have seen that in suspect stores.  Not a surprise.

However, even GREAT wine shop owners can steer a person to the wrong wine, unintentionally, of course.  My best advice is to find a store owner/worker whatever, that shares your palate.  It is a difficult thing to find.  I have found one up in Calistoga, and whenever I go there, every wine he recommends I really like! 

The next best thing is to fine a shop owner/worker who has tasted EXTENSIVELY.  Even if it is just one region, that knowledge can help him/her guide you to what you are looking for.  If they are experienced tasters, mentioning past wines you have enjoyed (I keep a database) or the characteristics of a wine that you've enjoyed, can help that person guide you in the right direction.  I experienced that recently in the RRV area, wherein I told a shopowner that I didn't like the typical "big" fruity syrahs, but a lighter, white pepper version.  He was then able to inform me that I would prefer cooler weather Sonoma syrahs, and sold me a gem of a wine :-)

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Sep 14, 2011.

@Napagirl, you are right on.  In a good wine shop, the shop worker should ask questions about wine you liked in the past and what you liked about it in order to help you find what you are looking for.  If a customer comes in looking for a specific wine that we don't have in stock, don't carry or are unable to get, I always find out as much about the wine they are looking for as possible and offer a similar recommendation.  More times than not, they end up liking my suggestion better than the wine they were originally looking for!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 14, 2011.

I think customers and shops would benefit if we kept those customer cards behind the counter and then we could look at them together.  In a small store, I think it could work.  Then, you can pop in without worrying as much about who is working that day.  Also, I sometimes forget the wine, or I don't remember the vintage.  Less of a problem since I started using another online service (sorry, my cellar isn't on Snooth) to keep track, but it would help the store, too, to know.

Store buyers (who are the owners in small stores, or the GMs) taste tons of wine to choose what they think their customers will like.  Small stores, like WineMine in Oakland, carry wines that the owner likes (he carries one wine that his wife likes that he doesn't care for, but sells well).  This gives you a really good idea every time you walk in what you will get, although David carries (for example) CdP that is international, funky and old world, and somewhere in between because they are each good in their own way.  He also makes his own "shelf talkers" that are really helpful.  I'd say his talkers have been a major part of my on-going wine education.  But he's not a big fan of Zinfandel, so I don't buy mine there.  Fair enough, and he gets enough business from me that if I spend a few hundred dollars a year elsewhere, he's not going to change his inventory and lose the focus of the store. (Actually, I spend money at about a dozen places, but he's my main brick and mortar source.)

Although it's helpful if the person you deal with has the same tastes as you, I think someone with a good palate can recommend wines based on knowing what you have liked in the past, even if they don't like that particular type of wine.

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Sep 14, 2011.

@Foxall, we keep track of what our customers buy through our point of sale system.  It's a sort of electronic customer card.  We simply ask the customers if they want us to keep track for them, and if they do, we enter their infomation into the system and it automatically keeps track for us as long as we enter their name before we finish out a transaction. 

Our wines are selected by the owners, me and the owner's wife.  We don't all have identical palates, so sometimes it's a "majority rules" situation, where three out of five of us like a wine so we buy it, even though not everyone does.   

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 14, 2011.

I know where I'm shopping for wine in the mid-Atlantic states.

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Sep 14, 2011.

Foxall, we'd be honored, but we are definitely off the beaten path!  The closest freeway is over 40 miles away.  The closest city is 60 miles away, unless of course, you are coming by boat. 

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Reply by rolifingers, Sep 14, 2011.

Hopefully wine merchants are reading this thread.

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 14, 2011.

@foxall- David does know his stuff!  He is one that you can describe exactly what you like, and he will find something there for you... I've never been disappointed!


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