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Nov 17, 2008 05:47 PM

Personal Sommelier Service

In their desperation to get some business in the current slaughterhouse retail environment, merchants are concocting infinite variations of nonsensical, purpose-defeating ideas.
Here's one I just got from an otherwise reputable retailer:

Personal Sommelier Service!
YOU pick the countries and regions.
YOU pick the grape varieties.
YOU set the price range per bottle.
YOU select the number of bottles per month.
Then, based on your guidelines, our team selects the perfect wines for you each month.

My advice ( to the retailers, consumers I don't think need any ): just relax, calm down, have a nice glass of some leftover cheapo, wait for the storm to pass ( which it'll eventually do ). And PLEASE, hold any new ideas until then.

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  1. haven't "you" just done a huge part of the work? It seems here that if the customer says they want some Napa cabs and McLaren Vale shiraz in the $40 range...all the team does is sees what is on the shelf that matches the criteria.

    My local store has what I consider a far better personal sommelier service (with staff who are certified wine educators, sommeliers, etc...): I tell them what I will be cooking, they will suggest a few suitable choices in what they know is my typical price range (anywhere from $10 to $50). I make my choice from the suggestions, they will then tell me if I should decant (and if so how long), ideal serving temp, which of my Riedel glasses might be best. And if it is more than 2 bottles, they even carry it to the car (a service offered to everyone - I'm a big guy, I could do it myself, but hey, they want to please...) That, to me, is personal sommeIier service. And on next visit, they usually even ask how was the wine x with my meal... good guys!

    1. Actually, this isn't really a new service, they just seem to be plugging it more as we get closer to the Holidays.

      1. But isn't this was a GOOD retailer will do anyway??? I mean, not send you the wines, but when you walk into the store, ask questions regarding the kind of wine you like and/or are looking for; the price range in which you are comfortable; and then, they make recommendations . . . .

        14 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          You're absolutely right.
          However, notice the "each month" ending.
          You set up this gizmo, it then runs on autopilot.
          I probably forgot to mention, it's just one more of an avalanche of all kinds of frantic emails from pretty much all the biggies, they give the impression to be desperate.
          Which is probably true, in which case that's the last impression they should be transmitting.

          1. re: RicRios

            They could just do what every retailer does when demand slackens - lower their prices (I've seen some of this too and think we'll see more).

            1. re: Frodnesor

              Yes, "each month" is why I mentioned sending the wines (as opposed to the customer actually -- heaven forbid! -- being IN the store). From the retailer point-of-view, this has some advantages. From teh customer perspective, however, it seems (to me) to lock one into stagnation . . .

            1. re: grantham

              I guess I shop in a perfect world . . .

                1. re: grantham

                  Exactly my thought. The problem with the majority of wine shops is that the staff is generally useless. Most have no wine knowledge, just clerks. You're lucky if you have a place that has a nice selection of wine and is informed about what they sell.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Exactly.... just saying there aren't many good options for people who need guidance.

                      1. re: WineTravel


                        On the contrary, I think that there ARE in fact a great MANY options for people who want guidance. You are saying there are NOT.

                        1. re: zin1953

                          You're right. As I stated earlier, I believe the majority of shops that sell wine are terrible... It's rare to find a good one. Most have very limited wine knowledge, just clerks... and often storage conditions are not ideal. There are some good ones, but you either have to be lucky to live near one or search them out. Yes, the internet helps, but that mostly helps those who already know what they're looking for. The avg consumer is left hanging... It's tough for them to learn. Wines like 2BC don't help either. BTW, your OP is a good case in point of how lame that Sommelier service is.

                          1. re: WineTravel

                            For people such as we, in rural areas, there truly are very few options.

                            1. re: grantham

                              Wine shops tend to be in urban areas, not rural ones. OTOH, chicken feed stores tend to be rural areas. Rolls-Royce and Ferrari dealerships? Urban. John Deere and Ford tractor dealerships? Well, they're not very often situated in major metropolitan areas.

                              Just facts.

                              OTOH, you list your location as Durango, Colorado AND San Francisco, California. Last time I checked, at least one of those places is pretty urban and filled with lots of GREAT wine merchants, filled with knowledgeable staff.

                              1. re: zin1953

                                This time of the year, we are in Durango, Colorado. Most of our wine needs are met on line by Zachy's and Wade's Wines. We can, in fact, find several places in San Francisco in summer to fill the need. We have no need for chicken feed and we're all set automobile-wise.

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