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The Soft, Hidden Underbelly of Wine Sales

Here's an e-mail that a little bird forwarded to me the other day. Names have been redacted to protect the innocent.

Hey [winebuyer for fancy restaurant],

I am going out on a limb here, I know, but I want to ask you for your absolute honesty. Please...

I will be disappointed, but not unsurprised if you do not answer.

Tell me why you are and have always been uninterested in [my winery's] wine? You are a true professional - I know this - that is why I am asking. What is it about our wines that does not attract you?

We obviously have all the right hatted restaurants on side - they easily sell out our wines in quick time in [major metro area]. We are favourably reviewed and have 3 times as much demand as supply, yet there are always two or three very respected places in both [major metro area] and [major metro area] that politely decline every year. You are one (at [big name restaurant] and now your own joint). I should not complain as my job is really very easy...I enjoy coming to [major metro area] 3 times a year to chat with the [big name sommelier]'s, [big name sommelier]'s, [big name sommelier]'s, [big name sommelier]'s, [big name sommelier] and yourselves....but to be truthful, [wine buyer for fancy restaurant] - you always come across as far too cool for school? Why is that? Most other professional [major metro area] Sommeliers are nothing if not honest and upfront. I have great respect for most of the [major metro area] Sommeliers. They certainly put [other major metro area] Sommeliers into a lesser league.

I don't ask for you pity or your custom - just your honest opinion. I cannot be offended. I did not make our wine. I care for it, yes, but ultimately it is not my baby. I have a few goals in life (like you) that I am currently exploring. But I am truly interested why you apparently have a disdain for our wine brand ([one of your employees] said she saw you roll your eyes several times when I was getting wine ready for you last week), yet you put on such an affected display of interest when I come to see you? Are you a fake wanker or merely mis-understood? Is the search to be truly unique and a trend setter in the [major metro area] wine scene/press enough for you to lose your objectivity?

Why not just tell me when I ring that you are not interested? I respect that honesty a lot more. I have little interest in wasting my time showing you wines we both know you are never going to buy.

I mean nothing untoward by this email [winebuyer for fancy restaurant]. Seriously, I do not. I am just interested why such an intelligent well respected and influential [major metro area] wine guy would be so fake and disingenuous to us on a regular basis? You would be crucified by such behaviour in [another major metro area].

We are one of 5 [wine region] wineries that [major wine publication] rates with 5 stars year in, year out. We have exceptional vineyards, our vines are nearing 20 years of age, our winemaker was just nominated for the [fancy award program]. We keep yields lower than any others in [wine region] (900kg per acre!), and pursue excellence over financial success all the time. Shit [winebuyer for fancy restaurant], I drink not much else but Champagne, Riesling, Italian reds, Gin, Beer and Single Malt Whisky - but if I had to drink New World Pinot and Chardonnay...I dare say, [my winery] would be in the mix with [wine region], [wine region], [wine region] and [wine region].

But you are not a fan? Why is that?

Your honesty will be appreciated. I promise I will not ever bother you again if you respond truthfully.


[winery salesman]

I think this needs to be made into a movie. And I'm seeing Big Name Sommelier being played by Ben Affleck and Winery Salesman played by William H. Macy. Directed, of course, by the Coen Brothers.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud