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.