Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wine Tastings

Last night we had a more or less typical wine tasting here at the store. The most popular white wine of the evening was Alta Luna Pinot Grigio, a restaurant offering from the giant co-op, Cavit of Trentino, Italy. The most popular red was Auka Argentine Syrah, a decent example of type at the popular $9.99 price point. Both wines tripled the sales of their nearest competitor on the table.

Why was this typical? The short answer is, "I don't just is." Last week it was Don Ramon Spanish Red Blend. The previous week it was Lovatti Val Sorda Italian Red. The week before that it was Sicoris Spanish Red. Is there a common thread at work here?

Price is a reality at work here. All of the above wines are in the $10-15 range. Last night the Gascon Reserve Malbec did well at an over $20 tag and the week before both California Cabs over $20 sold well also. I think if I was a mathematician I could create a formula for predicting sales of wines at a tasting based on price. But I digress...and I'm most certainly not a mathematician. I cut cheese for a living.

What about the fact that our Pinot Grigio winner last night was from the giant wine conglomerate, Cavit. That certainly indicates sales predictability through market surveys and the fact it was a "restaurant only" item where mass exposure is guaranteed before it is offered to retailers means this wine is intended to be mass marketed ultimately. Its poll-tested, right?

Well, yes but. Certainly Sicoris and Lovatti from weeks past weren't mass marketed and Auka Syrah is a minor player. They were all just very good wines at popular prices. Maybe that's it. The mathematical equation is individual and it comes down to "bang for your buck" value. I can live with that.

You didn't ask but the worst tasting we ever had here was a Pinot Noir tasting where all of the wines were ordinary and actually all tasted the same and everyone who came was a cabernet lover. I wanted to dissolve into the wallpaper. The worst wine tasting I ever attended was held at a major hotel banquet room in Atlanta by Diageo, one of the world's largest players. Every table lining the room was manned by the equivalent of a carney barker hawking whatever wine was on the table before him. The wines were all fine, as in decent product suitable for most any purposes. What wasn't fine was that while the wines were different varietals from five different continents, they all tasted remarkably the same!

I guess having a clear winner, some also-rans, and a stinker or two here ain't so bad.

Put this on your calendar. Tuesday evening from 5-7pm, Rene Bosque of RMB Associates will be here at the store tasting out the wines of Waterstone of Napa Valley California. In recent weeks we have tasted a half dozen similarly priced California varietals here. These are better. All will be "best of show" quality. Be here most definitely for this one.

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