This is my first post here. I'm in my mid 20s and work as the wine buyer at a little neighborhood wine/liquor store.

I first got into wine a couple years ago. Many people have charming "first wine" stories about a trip abroad or a special bottle that changed their life. This is the other kind.

Back in my side-salad days (art school), I was drunk on the metro on the way home from a party. I ran into a guy who was also drunk on the metro on the way home from a different party. We hit it off (meaning: dated for about two seconds) and somewhere in the mix, had some wine with dinner.

My only experiences with alcohol before then were the cheapest things available to college students. (We drank PBR or a concoction called "special juice" when we were feeling fancy. Precious memories.) The wine I tried with this guy was something simple and widely available- it might have been Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc- but Tiny Little College Me thought, "what is this nectar?"

Since then, I've been working in wine and liquor stores for a few years, reading wine books, tasting everything that comes my way, and picking the brains of anyone I meet with knowledge to share.

In my personal life, I almost never buy the same bottle twice. My budget is limited, and I like the mental puzzle of tasting and figuring out something new. I don't have any particular favorites- it seems to change with my mood and the weather- but sometimes there are wonderful "aha!" moments when a wine seems really evocative and unique, or goes perfectly with the food or the moment. Those can be simple and joyful at the same time, and to me that's what it's all about.

There are a few issues that I'm particularly interested in, as a young woman and someone with only a few years of wine work experience. (I was hired for my "enthusiasm.") For instance, how can I get young people interested in better wine? Also, wine marketing to my demographic is a bunch of patronizing garbage. Can anything be done about that? And, what's the best way to expand my knowledge from here? Etc.

Clearly I'm in for the long haul- I want to build a career in the wine industry. It seems like this forum is full of knowledgeable and opinionated people, and I'm looking forward to learning more.
Original Post
Welcome!

Here in Ontario, there are challenges with having liquor retailing controlled by a single provincially-run organization (the LCBO), but it does give them the financial resources to crank up the marketing machine: twice monthly glossy catalogues of the latest releases, a quarterly 100+ page glossy "Food & Drink" magazine, regular inserts in the weekend newspapers, regular tasting events and classes in the larger stores, etc. It's all lifestyle marketing. I don't know about where you are, but I'm inclined to think the LCBO's marketing isn't patronizing as much as it's just a fact of mass marketing. Especially with 20 and 30-somethings whose interests are arguably more varied and fragmented than any previous generation, it's hard to tailor the message to appeal to everyone, so you end up tarring an entire demographic with the same marketing brush.
quote:
I first got into wine a couple years ago. . .

My only experiences with alcohol before then were the cheapest things available to college students. . .

There are a few issues that I'm particularly interested in. . .

For instance, how can I get young people interested in better wine? Also, wine marketing to my demographic is a bunch of patronizing garbage. Can anything be done about that? And, what's the best way to expand my knowledge from here? Etc.


Welcome and I hope you stick around.

But you put the cart before the horse. You've been "into" wine for a couple years and yet you're anxious to get young people interested in "better" wine?

Better than what? Not for nothing, but if you don't really know all that much yourself, how are you going to guide anyone else? My advice is that you make an attempt NOT to be like everyone else who discovers wine and decides that after a few bottles he or she is fit to instruct the masses. Or worse, blog about their brand new discovery that's only been around since before 7000 B.C.

Maybe it's because I'm so shy, but I spent many years tasting dozens of of wines each year and asking dozens of questions from anyone who seemed to know anything. Those dozens of tastes became hundreds and now they're thousands each year, but finally I think I'm catching on. Of course, by the time that happens one is no longer young but that's how it is. It's a life-long journey.

Secondly, wine marketing to your demographic is patronizing garbage? That's probably true but wWhat is wine marketing to any other demographic? In fact, what is marketing period? For any product or service?

How would you recommend marketing to your demographic, which I'm assuming is a group without a whole lot of disposable income and not a lot of knowledge about wine? If I'm wrong, forgive and correct me. But how is anything marketed? Pretty much everything is about being "cool" isn't it? Apple products, toothpaste, cars - that won't change no matter what age people are - advertisers know that nobody wants to feel less aware than their peers so they market to those feelings of insecurity. Watches, cars, real estate, art, wine - it's all the same.

After that long digression, for my 2 cents, the only way you learn is by tasting and asking questions. Taste and then taste some more.

There are several types of wine knowledge. You can read about different areas and producers and start forming opinions. Plug yourself into a niche and you can find fellow travelers. For example, you can claim you're all into "natural" wine and read the bullshit about that and eschew anything that doesn't fit the approved canon. That's pretty easy to do and it's very common in the wine business, albeit unfortunate.

Alternatively, you can visit places and talk about them and claim that you can really really really taste the stones in the wine. That's pretty common too. Or you can say you don't care about those stones, you just want to sell the stuff and make some money. That's at least honest and like it or not, that's what makes the most successful people in the business.

Finally you can taste all kinds of wine and test yourself repeatedly, tasting blind and non-blind and figuring out if you really know one wine from another. When you finally do, you can teach and introduce people to new and novel wines. I hope you choose that last path.

As far as getting into the business - if you can sell, you're going to be a success. If you know a lot, that's useless to anyone other than you. Knowledge alone does not earn money or scientists would all be billionaires. Using knowledge to sell is what makes money. At the end of the day, wine is a business just like anything else and you have to move product. If you don't the business dies and with it all your dreams.

So as to how you can proceed to expand your knowledge, there's nothing like tasting. You can read but without tasting as well, it's kind of useless. Try some wine, write down your impressions and how much you like or dislike it and why, see if you can identify the components you like or dislike or find puzzling, and then read some reviews of the wine by people who've been tasting for a long time. It's fun to dismiss Parker and the reviewers at the Wine Spectator, but those people have had a lot more wine than most anyone else, so at least for now, see if you can get what they do. Doesn't mean you have to like a wine, but see if you get their takes on it. The more you taste, the more you'll figure out what you like and you'll figure out where different grapes and regions fit in your mental picture.

And ask questions. Especially if you're lucky enough to taste with really knowledgeable people. And do blind tastings as often as you can.

BTW, regarding your name, which I like, there is a wine out in Sonoma called Petrichor. You should try it. I'm not affiliated with them at all other than the fact that I tried it and found it very good.

You don't note where you live, but see if you can attend a dinner with other wine folks. Just invite people to get together either in a restaurant or at home. Every bottle can be a learning experience!

And good luck.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Welcome. We need more women here. And great moniker!

PH


+1 . . . that said, curious to know more about the moniker. Quick Wikipedia has Petrichor listed as the scent of rain on dry earth. Going to tune my senses for the next rain fall (which in Boston may be today but unfortunately on snow-covered and not dry earth).

Anyway, welcome and good luck with your mission

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