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11.12.2005

The Dangers of Buying Wine in Dallas

no_tonys.jpgI got angry when I read this story. Really angry. It's bad enough that owner Michel Monzain of Tony's Wine Warehouse in Dallas is fleecing customers by charging them outrageous prices for wines, sometimes two or three times the typical retail price elsewhere in the country, but the classes he holds to "educate his customers" are some of the most horrific sounding collections of misinformation and lies I've ever heard of.

From outrageous explanations of why French and American Oak aged wines taste different (French Oak barrels are made from trees that grow near mushrooms, while American Oak barrels are scorched on the inside), to ridiculous theories as to why some wines are better than others (the grape vines' roots go deeper), the "instructors" at this large retailer in Dallas spout such rot it's hard to believe it's possible.

It's hard enough to slowly educate the wine drinking public of America, and eliminate the stigma of wine being a complicated and high-class beverage without jerks running sham businesses like this one. I applaud the Dallas Observer for their expose. Take a read.

Comments (12)

Terry Hughes wrote:
11.13.05 at 4:45 AM

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't read it. Monzain and his band are real schnorers, and this sort of nonsense only holds back the acceptance of wine as an everyday accompaniment to meals in this country.

I particularly despise Monzain's playing the old Vichy card whenever anybody calls him to account. A fraud and a despicable one at that.

Steve-o wrote:
11.13.05 at 6:26 AM

There's a companion piece to this article - a tasting of wines bought at Tony's. It's worth a read:

http://www.dallasobserver.com/Issues/2005-11-10/news/feature2.html

Terry Hughes wrote:
11.13.05 at 6:54 AM

Steve-o, I read it. Again, unbelievable!

You know, at the end of the main article on Monzain, someone in the wine biz said that this was a "Dallas story," and it may be. I can't for a second imagine that anything of this kind would play in the NY market, for example, never mind a real wine "capital" like San Francisco. But I can imagine its taking place in a hundred other cities, unfortunately.

What about you?

HugeJ wrote:
11.13.05 at 8:43 AM

"...asbestos filtration..."

While I detest this sort of thing, I can't help but think that some of these people are getting what they deserve. I mean, even a half-hearted effort to learn anything about wine (not to mention a bit of common sense or comparison shopping) should straighten most of this out....

/Huge

ali wrote:
11.13.05 at 10:34 AM

As a former wine buyer for a major wine department in the Dallas area I can recall at least 100 times when these poor wine consumers walked into my department with a "Tony's Wine Tasting" list they won through a charity event. Real suckers? Not so, these folks that attend Tony's tastings are very entry level wine drinkers who want to know more. I just hope Tony's tactics didn't and won't turn these newbies off for life. I've walked the store once this year to see for myself. I left within 10 minutes with my jaw dragging the floor. Everything in the article is true - I applaud the Observer for there factual story. There are many very ethical and brilliant wine departments and retailers in Big D that are lovely to due business with.

What goes around comes around...

Jack wrote:
11.13.05 at 6:09 PM

This is where I read about this first...

Tana wrote:
11.14.05 at 1:15 PM

Alder, perhaps you might encourage your readers who know this joint to go cast their votes at Citysearch, which currently sports a 8.4 rating for the warehouse. WHAT a rip-off.

Bradley wrote:
11.14.05 at 7:56 PM

Can't believe there's that many people that could keep a place like this going.
Thanks for the article.

Alder wrote:
11.15.05 at 11:15 AM

Thanks Tana. The rating has already dropped to a 7.9. I wonder how low it will go.

Alastair wrote:
11.20.05 at 2:42 PM

What's most annoying is the "I'm a Jew, and they're persecuting me" nonsense. Hopefully the word will spread to those new to wine, and they will find another store in which to taste and to buy wine.

gilbert grape wrote:
12.14.05 at 4:05 PM

What a shame.

Having lived in SoCal most of my life it was refreshing to move to Dallas last year and find so many folks who are genuinely interested in wine.

Cost of living is really nice and folks don't mind shelling out $25-50 for a nice Cab or Pinot. Selling wines at more than double market rate is totally outrageous. If this story is half true, it won't be long before Tony's Warehouse of Horror is no more.

Suzanne wrote:
07.18.06 at 12:33 PM

I read the Dallas observer article and thought it was one of the most vicious attacks on a successful business owner I have ever seen.

About 90% of the article was taken from comments made by sour grapes competitors.

What is true is that Michel did donate classes to be auctioned at charity event to gain new customers. That is how we became customers. A friend one a silent auction and we attended her class.

We soon became devoted Tony's customers.

But soon much more than customers, friends too. This is the place were we would go to dinner before a show or go wine tasting at 10:00 in the morning. I have never met a more kind hearted and compassionate person as Michel.

As far as bad wines... well we had two bad bottles of wine in the entire 6 years that we were devoted customers. Both of which were happily exchanged.

The wine classes are entry level, and they challanged us to learn more about wine and to try different wines from different regions.

Michel does definetely have some opinions about wine which are not shared by others in the industry, but I think it is rediculous to call him the names which the articles did.

And as for the Vichy and Persecution line, I must that I think the article must have misquoted him, because in the 6 years we shared a deep friendship with the man, I never ever heard him refer to any thing like this. Think about it, have you ever been quoted correctly from any interview you did with a print journalist??? I know I have never been quoted correctly in any article for which I have been interviewed. This is an example of a journaist using a little spin.

Finally, we moved from Dallas 6 years ago with a job transfer. We still consider him a dear friend and recently learned that he had sold the business.

He had been considering retiring for sometime and I'm sure after these attacks on him he felt that it was time to retire.

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