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I work as a Wine consultant. At our store, so many people come in and ask for:
Champagne
Brandy/Cognac
Port
Chablis
etc

I spend some time explaining how each of those names came about and why. The easiest one is Champagne.. We all know it has to come from the Champagne area in France. But the same applies to the other names.

Is it something that we should always educate our customers with? Personally, I think it is important for local merchants to educate their customers with the differences. Why is a Cognac call a Cognac, and why isn't E&J XO Brandy called a Cognac.

It isn't that much about quality like it may have been 30 years ago... But I still think the naming distinctions always need to be in place.
 
Posts: 8 | Location: New Milford, CT | Registered: Nov 19, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I believe there is a time and a place for wine education, but that may not be the appropriate moment.

Remember the tag line.


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A father is someone who has pictures where his money used to be.
 
Posts: 6769 | Location: Everett, WA | Registered: Mar 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by mneeley490:
I believe there is a time and a place for wine education, but that may not be the appropriate moment.


I agree. Most people could care less about any naming distinctions between anything, especially wine. Most people aren't wine geeks like us. And, that's ok. If people want to know the difference between a Champer or a Sparkler, they'll ask. Or if they care, they can look it up for themselves. I would never want to jeapordize a sale by bombarding somebody with the "correct delineations" between something that at the end of the day, doesn't really mean much to them. Just my 2 Cents
 
Posts: 1471 | Location: Murrieta, CA | Registered: Mar 14, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What they said above.

Ron - no idea how long you've been doing your job or what your background is, so don't take offense, but while I know some people who are relatively new in the wine business are anxious to show how much they know, there's nothing more irritating to me than having someone "educate" me w/out my having expressed any interest.

First, I may not be in the mood. Second and more importantly, half the time they're wrong anyway. It's not like I know all that much about wine in the first place but you have no idea how many times I've been offered information that's just flat out incorrect, or I"m offered an opinion that's passed on as fact.

If asked, offer information. If not asked, don't lecture.

Here are some recent items:

"Corks are the only way to seal really good wine because the wine breathes through the cork."

"California is so hot that all the wines are sweet. You can't drink them with food."

"Have you ever had Edmund St. John's wines?" "No! I'm not going to drink some over-ripe, over-extracted crap from California."

"France makes the best wine. Don't get anything else."

"Shiraz was brought to France by the Crusaders. It's originally from Persia and the Persian kings used to drink it."

"Grenache is native to France. They try to grow it other places too, but it doesn't do very well."

"Never store wine in the fridge for more than a day or so. You'll dry out the cork."

"You'll be surprised at how different your wine will taste from different glasses."


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2590 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
Here are some recent items:

"Corks are the only way to seal really good wine because the wine breathes through the cork."

"California is so hot that all the wines are sweet. You can't drink them with food."

"Have you ever had Edmund St. John's wines?" "No! I'm not going to drink some over-ripe, over-extracted crap from California."

"France makes the best wine. Don't get anything else."

"Shiraz was brought to France by the Crusaders. It's originally from Persia and the Persian kings used to drink it."

"Grenache is native to France. They try to grow it other places too, but it doesn't do very well."

"Never store wine in the fridge for more than a day or so. You'll dry out the cork."

"You'll be surprised at how different your wine will taste from different glasses."

I would now like you to edit in your replies to each of these statements. Please feel free to use sarcasm. Smile


"Won't someone tell me what it is they all want?"
 
Posts: 6059 | Location: Utah | Registered: Jan 15, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ron D, I think it is more of a feel than a rule.

I also think it depends on the type of store you work at. A big box store or a specialty wine store. I also think there are times that more or specific information may apply. If you are pouring several Chablis one Saturday for tastings, then I think sharing information might be well received more often than not... perhaps sharing a Chablis only exposed to cement or S.S., one to neutral oak and one exposed to some new and neutral, etc. If you are doing a Champagne tasting, mention the blend or BdB or BdN and such, or was the Champagne exposed to oak or...

I find that if you share a little wine specific information you will know quickly if the client cares or wants to know/understand more as they will ask you questions.

One of the things that drives me CRAZY is when I'm in a wine shop and overhear someone ask for a Chardonnay, and the salesperson starts telling the unknown palate what they like. Mad Who gives a darn what they like? Seems to me the sales person would ask, tell me of some Chards you have enjoyed in the past? At that time you might inquire if they enjoy malo, new oak, steely, enjoy with food, without food, etc. Again, this may/should help you know if the client would like to be educated more or just looking for a bottle for whatever reason.

Again, I think it is more of a feel.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wine+art,
 
Posts: 30038 | Location: Dallas, TX & Santa Fe, NM | Registered: Feb 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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gigabit - it really all depends on my mood. Usually I just let it go, unless there's someone else who's overhearing and just taking in all the information. Then you gotta burn the guy. The one about wines from France was the best though. My mother in law, who really doesn't care one way or another, quite innocently asked him if he'd ever had Montelena, Dunn, Mayacamas, George de Latour, or Heitz Martha's, all of which she liked. It wasn't supercillious at all and if anyone were capable of being that way, it's her. This however, was even better because it was genuine concern for the poor sap, accidental condescension without malice, just a beautiful thing to see.

Like W+A said - it's more of a feeling. If you're in retail and you can't size up a customer, you're not going to do very well.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2590 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
My mother in law, who really doesn't care one way or another, quite innocently asked him if he'd ever had Montelena, Dunn, Mayacamas, George de Latour, or Heitz Martha's, all of which she liked.

OK, am I the only one here that would like to drink wine with Greg's M-I-L?


"Won't someone tell me what it is they all want?"
 
Posts: 6059 | Location: Utah | Registered: Jan 15, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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To me, we overdo this a bit.
A guy asks for a Kleenex. He doesn't mean the brand as any tissue will do.
Or, someone says "Make me a Xerox copy." They really don't insist that you use a machine made by the Xerox company.
Some of these things become so ubiquitous as to be almost parts of speech.

So, if someone comes into the store and says "I'd like a bottle of Champagne", just take them to the Champagne aisle and sell them something. If they say, "Can I have a bottle of Champagne from California" you can, as a wine merchant, do the following:
1) Throw them out of the store
2) Commence a lecture
3) take them to the California sparkling area, ask them why California, and then sell them some Domaine Carneros.


99% of lawyers give the rest of us a bad name.
 
Posts: 7124 | Location: Baltimore, MD | Registered: Feb 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I suppose it's a fine line. There is a LWS owner in my town that is downright unwelcoming if you don't play his game. I enjoy kicking the tires in a wine store and some places can't seem to leave you alone to peruse.
 
Posts: 132 | Location: Omaha, NE | Registered: Apr 22, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:
quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
Here are some recent items:

"Corks are the only way to seal really good wine because the wine breathes through the cork."

"California is so hot that all the wines are sweet. You can't drink them with food."

"Have you ever had Edmund St. John's wines?" "No! I'm not going to drink some over-ripe, over-extracted crap from California."

"France makes the best wine. Don't get anything else."

"Shiraz was brought to France by the Crusaders. It's originally from Persia and the Persian kings used to drink it."

"Grenache is native to France. They try to grow it other places too, but it doesn't do very well."

"Never store wine in the fridge for more than a day or so. You'll dry out the cork."

"You'll be surprised at how different your wine will taste from different glasses."

I would now like you to edit in your replies to each of these statements. Please feel free to use sarcasm. Smile


Hah!! No joke, this happened to me today:

I found a pretty good price on some bottles of '07 Pontet-Canet last night at a large retailer, so I scooped up a few. I popped one not long after I got home, with the intentions of following the wine over a couple of days. I could tell immediately that the wine was badly corked. Just for my own piece of mind, I left it in the decanter in case it was a funk that would blow off. Low and behold, nope...corked.

Today, I brought the bottle & its contents back to the store to swap it out. Keep in mind, by this point, the wine smells like a piece of wet newspaper that was used to clean a moldy shower. I kid you not, this is conversation that followed.

Me: "Hi, I just spoke to you on the phone about swapping out this corked wine."

Sales Dude: "How do you know it's corked?"

Me: "Smell it. Doesn't it smell like a musty, wet newspaper to you?"

Sales Dude: "That's how Pontet smells. If you swap another bottle, it'll smell the same."

Me: "No. That's how a corked bottle of Pontet smells. I'm a big fan of the producer, and have enjoyed quite a few bottles."

Sales Dude: "Well, every bottle of French wine I have had, has that smell."

Me: "Have you ever had a bottle of Pontet-Canet?"

Sales Dude: "Well...no. But, they all smell about the same."

Me: "So, you're saying that every French wine you have had, and even the one's you haven't tried smell like a musty newspaper?"

Sales Dude: "Well, I'm not sure..."

Me: "Right...I'm sorry that every French wine you have tried has been corked. Can I switch this Pontet out for a new one?"

Sales Dude: "Sure."
 
Posts: 1471 | Location: Murrieta, CA | Registered: Mar 14, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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OMFG.... overbearing smellyairs are now working at the LWS! Bang


--------------------
"One may dislike carrots, spinach, beetroot, or the skin on hot milk. But not wine. It is like hating the air that one breathes, since each is equally indispensable."

Marcel Ayme`
 
Posts: 10227 | Location: The Left Coast | Registered: Dec 01, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Oh yeah! At least in NYC these days.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2590 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ron, welcome to the forum neighbor.

Shane, how can people like that sell wine? They need to get some training and interest for God's sake.


"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
 
Posts: 1895 | Registered: Feb 27, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by wine+art:
Ron D, I think it is more of a feel than a rule.

I also think it depends on the type of store you work at. A big box store or a specialty wine store. I also think there are times that more or specific information may apply. If you are pouring several Chablis one Saturday for tastings, then I think sharing information might be well received more often than not... perhaps sharing a Chablis only exposed to cement or S.S., one to neutral oak and one exposed to some new and neutral, etc. If you are doing a Champagne tasting, mention the blend or BdB or BdN and such, or was the Champagne exposed to oak or...

I find that if you share a little wine specific information you will know quickly if the client cares or wants to know/understand more as they will ask you questions.

One of the things that drives me CRAZY is when I'm in a wine shop and overhear someone ask for a Chardonnay, and the salesperson starts telling the unknown palate what they like. Mad Who gives a darn what they like? Seems to me the sales person would ask, tell me of some Chards you have enjoyed in the past? At that time you might inquire if they enjoy malo, new oak, steely, enjoy with food, without food, etc. Again, this may/should help you know if the client would like to be educated more or just looking for a bottle for whatever reason.

Again, I think it is more of a feel.


I'd say it depends very much on the kind of shop and the knowledge of the salesperson. EG: I buy most of my Burgundy in a little shop whose people are real Burgundy geeks and i have absolute confidence in their advice. If those people tell me about some new stuff they like, i am pretty sure i'll like it as well. I enjoy trying out new stuff.


There is nothing in our intelligence that has not passed by the senses. (Aristoteles)
 
Posts: 1871 | Location: Luxemburg | Registered: Nov 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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GregT,

I've been associated with Wines since 1971. Worked in both the Wholesale and Retail business during the 70's
Spent time lecturing about How to get to know wines, Written many online wine articles, run yearly Wine/Food pairing dinners,etc.

My thread was asking what does every think about educating the consumer. And yes it is very important to know when its appropriate and who it is appropriate for. Knowing your customer is the number one priority.

But, thanks I got the overall jist of how people feel about the names.
 
Posts: 8 | Location: New Milford, CT | Registered: Nov 19, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It all depends on how you explain it. If someone asks for a Chablis, you should say do you have any particular producer or price point in mind? If they give you a blank look you can explain that Chablis is a specific type of wine from the region in France, etc.


When in doubt, open another bottle.
 
Posts: 2607 | Location: Silver Spring MD (Near DC) | Registered: Nov 13, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Are you set on a French Champange or would you consider sparkling wines from other regions?

or you could say something like 'a regulated champagne or would you consider a sparkling wine from other regions', you get to make your education point then you can see if they are curious enough to ask a question (whats the difference) or if they are oblivious.


If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
 
Posts: 449 | Location: Minneapolis | Registered: Aug 01, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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