Familiarity breeds contentment. So says Matt Kramer in a Wine Spectator article entitled "The Hardest Part" from the November 15, 2014 edition of the magazine. Kramer maintains the hardest part of his job is trying to get people to try new wines. I can relate.
In the November 26-27, 2015 issue of the Wall Street Journal Lettie Teague writes similarly that "Loyalty is not a virtue when applied to wine. It leads to an unnecessary narrowing of options."
Interestingly both writers are dealing with the same problem - how to introduce new wines to people who are hooked on the tried and true. And the problem, of course, wouldn't exist if the subject matter wasn't so intimidating. In an effort to de-mystify the subject here in the store I like to tell people, "On the list of important things in life, wine shouldn't be too high." (Hopefully that takes the edge off the transaction, you know.)
If the truth be known, the hardest part of being in the wine business is selling the stuff. We on the selling side know what it is or what it's supposed to be but we usually don't know the customer so we ask questions about the purpose of the purchase (dinner or cocktail) or what the customer's history with wine is (California, Europe, or elsewhere). We try to nail down any information that will help to provide the best wine for their tastes. After all, we do want them to come back.
In fact whenever any of us sits down to enjoy a new bottle of wine, if we are experienced we may know what it's supposed to taste like but if it is a new wine then we may be surprised by something about the wine that is unexpected. And that is good. As the man once said to me, "That's why they make more than one kind of wine."
Kramer's article leads him to conclude that consumers could save a lot of money by trying some of the great wines from places other than California. Teague acknowledges that California has nailed the comfort zone for the American palate. It's up to the sommeliers and wine merchants of America to ease wine lovers into an expansion of that zone.
Please join us next Thursday the 8th of June at 5pm for a tasting of whites from sommelier-owned Mouton Noir of Oregon and reds from environmentally conscious Ventisquero of Chile. David Hobbs presides over this one.