I was at the store yesterday and was helping many people get ready for the holidays, whether it was buying gifts for others or buying wine/liquor for holiday parties. As I was helping people, I came across a gentlemen who looked confused. When I asked him what type of wine he likes, he said “I don’t really know, I’m not a wine connoisseur.”
I have heard this comment before, and it bothers me every time I hear it. There is this perception about wine that good wine needs to be expensive, and you need to be a connoisseur to enjoy it. I don’t buy this, and am hoping that I can help my customers get past this idea and open up a world of enjoyment on their wine journey. I say journey, because half the fun of drinking wine is finding a new one that you like. With the variety of wine available in different countries, regions, grape varieties and winemakers techniques, there is an immeasurable amount of wine out there.
A few years ago Tina Caputo wrote an article for Wines & Vines about 6 types of wine drinkers. Below are the classifications that she used.
1. Overwhelmed (23%) – This person feels overwhelmed by the number of wines and feels too intimidated to ask for help. They often avoid wine stores as a result and miss out on the world of good wine, opting instead for cheap supermarket wine.
2. Satisfied Sippers (14%) – They don’t know much about wine, but know what they like and typically buy the same brand.
3. Traditionalists (16%) – These people enjoy wine from established wineries. They feel wine makes an occasion more formal, and will entertain with wine in their house. They, like the previous category, stick to the same brands.
4. Savvy Shoppers (15%) – These people love to shop for best buys. They love specials and discounts and look for wine in the $7 range.
5. Image Seekers (20%) – This group views wine as a status symbol. They like to be the first to try a new wine. They like wines with high ratings and are not afraid to pay more.
6. Enthusiasts (12%) – These people consider themselves knowledgeable about wine. They read wine publications, love to entertain and enjoy learning more about wine.
Which category are you?
To be honest, I was a mixture of 2, 3 & 4 when I opened the store. I would usually stick to the wines I knew or had tried before. They were generally well known wines and once in a while I would try a new one because I liked the label. Since opening the store, I have shifted into 6, the enthusiast category. My goal, personal and business, is to experience new wines. I personally enjoy trying a new wine and comparing it to others I have had. On the business side, I like trying new wines and bringing the ones I think people who visit the store will like. Recently we had a wine tasting from Damiani Wine Cellars, a generally drier and more complex set of Finger Lake wines. This Friday, we have a tasting scheduled with Three Brothers Winery, which has sweeter wines and labels such as “Well Hung” and “Skirtlifter.”
At the end of the day, you should drink what you like. Our store is setup to accommodate all 6 categories. For the overwhelmed, we have a friendly staff and information about wine posted around the store, such as information on specific types of grapes and what foods they pair with. We also split our main wine rack into 2 categories, reds and whites, so that alcohol is grouped together. We bring in customer requests and stock the well known wines for the satisfied sipper and the traditionalist. For the savvy shopper, we carry a selection of wines that are value priced and I focus on finding the best values in each price range. For the image seeker, we are starting to carry more higher end wines, such as wines from Napa Valley and well known areas of France. For the enthusiast, you can take the journey with me. Try the new wines that we get in, and recommend others that you have had and enjoyed.
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