I’m late posting my blog entry today as I had an appointment that didn’t turn out as planned. My boss, one of the most enthusiastic, energetic, and knowledgeable people I’ve met in the wine industry, had set up an early morning appointment for us at a brand new wine shop for today.
We arrived and showed the man our list. The man responded that he only wants inexpensive, big brand wines right now, and that he doesn’t really buy French, except he’d consider the “cheap kind of Beaujolais” (that’s the part where I died a little on the inside), and he wanted to know why ours are on the pricey side, to which my boss replied, “that’s because it’s Cru.”
It was an unfortunate appointment but another example of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. He claimed his only reason for not knowing what was in our list or understanding the products is that he’s been out of the wine business for a few years. Really?
I’m going to guess it’s because lots of people are too lazy to explore what’s really out there, take chances on items with which they’re unfamiliar, and they figure the big brands are a safe bet. I’d like to know what constitutes “safe,” since many of the bigger brands are turning out a product of poorer and poorer quality with each passing vintage, due to lack of attention to detail, over-oaking, and indifference that mirrors the indifference of many consumers. And I think that’s sad.
One could make the argument that those wine drinkers who have spent years honing the skills of their noses and palates deserve better than that, a better selection, more knowledgeable staff at shops and restaurants, better quality wines, etc. But the great Joe DiMaggio once said that, “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.” It’s also the novice that deserves to see the best, because that novice’s taste for good wine, good baseball, good anything, begins somewhere. And I believe that novice wine drinkers deserve the best of what’s out there as well. Why should they have to experience wine in the early stages in the form of poorly made, mass produced products?
I’m not saying a shop or restaurant has to order First Growth Bordeaux, or very off-beat wines made from strange grapes from unknown regions, or present a novice wine drinker with a Piemonte selection with several decades of bottle aging (and then the bill). All I’m saying is that no one has to settle for something sub-par. Chances are, they’d be overpaying for the mass-produced wines, and getting a pretty good deal on something else - something more exciting and probably quite good quality.