Demystifying wine is a good idea anytime, but especially in tough times
How cool is this? It’s a report out of Tennessee that retailers are courting “unschooled drinkers” through “easy shopability, customer service and the knowledge that the staff has.” The story quotes Tom Wark (Fermentation blog) as explaining that wine stores have been demystifying wine, to make it more consumer friendly.
About time! The last thing we need is to make wine scarier for the average American. The infamous “Wall of Wine” has been freaking people out for years.
I remember, when I was learning about wine, how I’d go into Draper & Esquin, a long-gone snooty wine shop in San Francisco’s Financial District. In my torn bluejeans and sneakers, I guess I didn’t look too upscale, although I was perfectly willing to part with 10 or 15 bucks for a nice Rhinegau or Moulin-a-Vent. But I always had the feeling the staff saw only my clothing and, concluding I wasn’t a big spender, ignored me. Their negative body language eventually persuaded me to bring my business elsewhere.
We in the wine industry tend to forget how overwhelming the wine shopping experience can be. I can go into the wine aisle at Safeway and basically tell you something about nearly every bottle on the shelf. But 99 percent of shoppers experience anxiety and confusion. That’s one of the nice things about the proliferation of wine bars that have opened around the country (and let’s just hope they stay open as this damned recession deepens). The wine bars help people get more comfortable around wine, in a supportive environment, not a debilitating one.
Another way to demystify wine, to bring it out of the realm of snobbery, is to organize around it socially. In Rochester, N.Y., “people are gathering to learn, discover, enjoy” wine, reports the Democrat & Chronicle. Through wine classes, wine clubs, wine tasting parties and wine-centered fundraisers, they’re breaking through the liquid ceiling that long separated expert from the non-expert. (Blogging is part of the same phenomenon.) America is finally developing a real wine drinking culture, and these tough economic times may actually stimulate it, as we find less expensive ways to gather together with friends and have fun.
And this just in…
The hottest food in Britain? Squirrel, according to the New York Times. After all, it’s the perfect recession protein: cheap and plentiful. Can’t afford filet mignon? Just grab your shotgun and head down to the park.
Don’t eat me…PLEASE!