by Rob Bralow, Wine Post Editor
I posted this comment on the Passionate Foodie, a friend of mine who is extremely knowledgeable about wine and especially Sake. However, I disagreed with his position about carrying niche wines. You can see the original post here: http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/2010/11/rant-wine-store-owners-mercenary-or.html
Below is my comment:
I am forced to admit, there are plenty of stores in the world where all they carry are name brands that have been around for decades because that is what people buy. Yellow Tail, Mondavi, Louis Jadot... we all know the names and they sell because the average wine drinker barely knows the difference between a Cabernet and a Merlot (and I think there was this movie about Pinot something, but I can't remember).
But just because the store carries these items does not make them unworthy. Just because a store does not carry wines from the Jura, or the newest vintage from Nicolas Joly, or a Zweigelt does not mean they do not know what these wines are and their value. But there are harsh realities. The rent bill comes every month, and if you have not sold enough wine, then you can close up shop and all your stock of grower-producer Champagne and Margaret River Chardonnay is not worth a rusty penny.
The reality is that the number of people that really know wine and are interested in those niche products equal a tiny portion of the number of people buying wine. They are great if they can be relied on to come in once a month (that's right, once a MONTH would make it worthwhile), but if they can't then the wine sits there.
The answer of more tastings and more hand selling? There is already a huge amount of that going on with any number of wines that SHOULD be walking off the shelf without a hand sell. I'm talking about simple wines like Riesling and Vaqueyras. You start telling someone about the oxidative nature of a wine from the Jura and you've lost them long before you get to the brilliant flavor and balance.
If I had the budget to stock $2 million worth of product, hell I would have a little bit of everything! But economics are real and limiting, as is shelf space and the number of cases that I have to buy in order to keep the prices sane for customers (because distributors do not give you a good deal when you buy one case, it usually has to be 10 - 25 cases). Storage is a problem. Operating capital is a problem.
I am not saying there aren't mercenary wine stores in existence. I am just saying that just because a store does not carry a niche wine does not prevent them from being a troubadour for the wine industry at large.
2 hours ago