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Buying Wine - Pet Peeves

Probably like many people on this board, I spend quite a bit of time and money drinking, tasting, reading, and enjoying wine and gastronomy.

Earlier today I purchased a bottle of wine I have never seen in a retail store and encountered something that really annoys me: a price tag on the front of the bottle above the label. Yes, I know in the grand scheme of things that it will not alter the taste of the wine and there are indeed tons of things I should be concerned about in this world, yet this really bothers me since it often is a pain to remove and the stickiness never quite comes off.

I'm sure we all have our Pet Peeves when buying wine at a variety of establishments, so I wanted to see what bothers other people? Storage? Temperature? Uniformed staff? Yes, I'm a wine geek and even comment on stemware when I see people drinking on TV, but I suppose everybody has a hobby...


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  1. My main pet peeves with the retail buying experience:

    - Ignorant staff members
    - Sales people intent on selling you whatever they're getting bonuses on
    - Same wine as everywhere else
    - Ridiculous markups

    There are definitely more, but those came to mind first.

    2 Replies
    1. re: orlwine

      an overly warm/hot environment does it for me

      1. re: drumwine

        We were in New Orleans shortly after Katrina, I visited a well stocked wine shop in the Quarter looking for a few nice wines, but on reflection could not justify spending the money on something that may have spent quite some time in high temps and humidity.

    2. Razor blade for price sticker removal.

      My main issue is temperature -- both on the floor and where the wine is stored beforehand. There are wine shops where I live that carry wines I'd purchase elsewhere, but their climate conditions stop me from purchasing in their stores.

      Smaller issues include 1) the "trophy wines" under lock and key (and not necessarily any better climate); 2) not making all wines available to all customers; 3) different vintage in the store than what was advertised in the sales literature.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Brad Ballinger

        One particular shop in Phoenix removes the price stickers. When I serve a bottle, if it is still there, I do the task. I even keep a "scraper" in the cellar, just in case.

        Reminds me that I need to remove and replace my wife's VIP parking sticker on her car... gotta' go down to the cellar to "borrow" the scraper.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Yes, there is one nice wine shop in San Francisco that removes the sticker as you check out.

          That is great if you are picking up something to bring as a gift to dinner.

          If I am just buying wine for home, I like to keep the sticker to remind me what the price was when I get around to opening it, especially if I am trying something new.

          1. re: pamf

            I am with you on that, as I try to log my wines into my database. Plus, I keep a scraper in the cellar to remove. Still, if heading to an event, it's greatly appreciated.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              When I owned my shop I always asked if the customer wanted the price sticker removed if I knew or sensed the bottle was a gift. There were also lots of times when the customer would not mention the reason but would try to remove the sticker at the time of sale. I always kept some razor blades and odorless GoofOff available for that purpose.

              1. re: Midlife

                To me, it's a nice service. I avail myself of it, when appropriate. When needed later, I have one in the cellar for that purpose.

                Nice treat for your clients,


      2. All the mom-and-pop liquor stores here have the same stuff. It's like they all have the same distributor and they let that distributor make the decisions on what wines to offer.

        1. Best way to take off the sticker....piece of scotch tape over the label then pull off.
          What annoys me at wine shops....
          1.) Customers who think they know more than the next person about wine.
          2.) Customers that take up a wine demo time by telling the person giving the demo everything they think they know about their wine. Same goes for the big wine events. You get stuck behind some blow hard that has to tell the Rep everything about that wine. Who are you impressing besides yourself?
          3.) Wineries who only want their wines on restaurant menus. Cakebread...you're really not that good...get off your high horse!
          4.) Customers who insist on up selling other customers. No Blackstone is not the best Merlot in world and Kendall Jackson is not the King of chardonnays It may work for you, but it is sewer water to others...let us experiment.
          5.) Store staff trying to sell me on a piece of crap that they bought for $1 and charging me $10 because ya know that their palate is just as good as Robert Parker....
          6.) Which reminds me...Robert Parker, Spectator, Tanzer are all good "reference materials" , but are not the BIBLES to buy by. If you feel the need to buy only because one of the mentioned people said it was 90+ points then good for you you lemming. And by the way...you do not have Robert Parker's same taste buds. If you do then you should be writing your own column.
          I love love wine. I love the experience of drinking it with other friends who appreciate good wine. I love browsing a store (I'm part browser on my mother's side...Rodney Dangerfield) looking for new things or old gems. I don't like sales people disturbing me when I'm in the zone,telling me "oh ya know that this is better than that." JUST LET ME BE!!! I'll make my own mistakes, because that is part of the intrigue and learning experience of wine.

          5 Replies
          1. re: triggs73

            So................. tell us what you REALLY think.

            I can't say that I completely disagree with any of your points, though I do think you might benefit from a few sessions on anger management. ;o)

            If you would, please list the shops and events you frequent so I can be sure to avoid them.

            1. re: Midlife

              I think I've heard that before....I wish I could tell you the shops in CT, but that would be wrong. I do stay away from any big box chain. I try to help out the little guy with the best service, because it is the service that I appreciate the most. But I could tell to avoid the shows at the 2 casinos. Even the trade shows that I attend, my shop gives me his passes, are full of blow hards.

              1. re: triggs73

                Owned a wine shop for 3 years until just recently. Your post rang lots of bells, though my experiences must have been more 'civilized'.

                1. re: Midlife

                  That's funny to hear. I keep a lot in....until I get on CH

              2. re: Midlife

                Tried that, bottom line is my anger management class is really pissing me off. ; >P

            2. What bothers me: running out of Goo Gone.
              (First you scratch that damned label off, then clean the goo)


              1 Reply
              1. re: RicRios

                I forgot about that....my mother claims that it works wonders!

              2. Just to second above comments, a single-edged razor blade and some rubbing alcohol, Goo Gone or Goof Off (local hardware store) will remove any label I've ever encountered.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Midlife

                  Lazy staff members including owners
                  Owners who don't invest in educating their help
                  Old wines that have been sitting around forever that are marked up at silly prices

                  1. re: wineglas

                    A few pet peeves:

                    1) Descriptions/Ratings of wines on display that reference a different vintage than what the store is selling (i.e. there will be a writeup in front of the wine rack talking about how wonderful the 2005 vintage is....and the store will be selling the 2006).

                    2) Other customers in the store who insist that I try a certain wine and become nearly belligerent about it (this has happened on a few occasions, believe it or not).

                    3) Wines subjected to sunlight and subsequent heat (i.e. displayed in a store window)

                    4) Customers who elbow their way past me (this generally only happens at "special release" events, i..e. the 2005 Bordeaux release at my local 'signature' liquor store).

                    5) Clerks commenting on the price of a wine I am buying (i.e. "50 Bucks! Wow!")

                    6) Stores playing favourites and selling sought-after wines to certain customers.

                    1. re: anewton

                      What's wrong with "playing favourites"? Stores have to do business, and cultivating good customers is one way. My local wine shop often works with distributors for the last few cases of some vintages - so, say, the last 6 cases of...whatever...available in Alberta, maybe even Canada. And they pretty much always sell these by phone/email, seldom having any hit the shelf for the general 'walk-in' sale. I get a call/message at least once a month of an offer like this, targeted at what I like and what they know I am happy spending. I know there are other people who spend more than I do who get offers for wines I never see because I have a self-imposed $50/bottle limit.
                      I think this is just normal business though in any good mom&pop retail - my wife gets similar calls from clothing and shoe stores all the time: new season's clothes are in...come see them and get first pick.

                      1. re: Dan G

                        I'm with Dan here. Speaking as a retailer we never play favorites but we DO reward those customers that support the store, (buying most of their wine there and buy things other than the cherries) by giving them first crack at special wines before putting them on the shelf. The person that tells us they buy most of their wine at X but wants all of our Sea Smoke is not going to be the first person we call...

                        The thing to keep in mind is that wholesalers also look at how much a shop or restaurant buys from their book before handing out allocations of super rare, sought after wines. Or they tie a wine that they cannot sell to a wine that everyone wants, "You want Ridge Zins? Then you have to take a 5 stack of Chardonnay" which of corse no one wants. What I loathe is when a retailers make the customer take one bottle of white to get the bottle of red that they want...I know it was done to them but I still bugs me, but of course I now have bottle of things like Comte Lafon Red and the whites sold out in hours...whadda ya gonna do?

                        1. re: bubbles4me

                          Everybody wanted that Ridge Chard back in 2007 when it hit #2 on the WS Top 100...My wine shop does the same by putting stuff aside for other customers. I used to go to another scum bag that pulled the same thing with "oh if you want the red you have to buy the white." That's why I no longer give him my business. The guy I go to now puts stuff aside that is highly allocated and offers them to his good customers. I've received phone calls or emails with special offerings and I see nothing wrong with that. Like that new release of the 95 point Columbia Crest Cab Reserve. I gues CT got such a small offering that my guy had to keep it off the floor. He said he had other stores looking to scrape it up.

                          1. re: triggs73

                            I'm okay with customer loyalty practicesl offering highly allocated wines to good customers. What is a peeve for me is when I've been told that either a wine isn't available to me or that it can't be sold to me because it's for preferred customers. At one shop, my reply was "Well, you don't have to worry about me every becoming one of those."

                2. I have nothing against merchants giving perks to loyal customers, yet it does bother me when retailers know very little about what is on their shelves. Does this mean that they should taste every wine that they sell at least once? Ideally, yes.... Is it a reality, particularly in the world of globalized retail and megastores, no...

                  I love it when I go to a wine shop in say France, Portugal, or Argentina and the staff or owner asks the food I will be serving my wine with as well as my price range. I guess what I'm saying is that I dislike stores where there is disconnect from the product.

                  And yes, I have tried the razor blade and other products to remove price tags, but it still bugs me to do that...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: vinhotinto75

                    Dan and Bubbles:

                    I hear you both. I don't think I was being clear. There are some retailers (thankfully a minority) whom I have found can be downright snooty and do not reward all loyal customers equally. There is one retailer in particular whom I have encountered who I do not support because I believe he has "personality issues" (and I am not alone in believing this) and who plays games, i.e. "who is deserving of store's my best wines, and who is not. "

                    But I do not have a problem with retailers rewarding customers who show loyalty and interest over time. That only makes sense.

                    1. re: vinhotinto75

                      Isn't it pretty normal to be asked how you'll be serving a wine and how much you want to spend? I would think that *not* asking those questions would be uncommon and a red flag. That was my experience in the US as well, anyhow. But then I don't know where you're located, and it could be that I was experiencing the weird bubble that is the Bay Area.

                      1. re: tmso

                        Nothing like mis quoting the critics scores. I love the 92-95 points and then using the 95 score.

                        Even worse putting 93 points on a wine and it is really 90. No excuse for this!

                    2. Pre-Selling anything, tissue-wrapped bottles, styrofoam shippers

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Sam B

                        I'm not picking on your post. I'm really curious.

                        Pre-Selling: Do you mean if they require pre-payment?? . I realize that retailers often have to pay up front for futures, but I really think that's a cost of their doing business. I know that's not how most of them do it, but that's how I feel too.

                        Tissue-wrapped bottle: I'd agree at the point of sale. When I owned my shop I would always take the bottles out of the tissue at that point just to be sure the wine I had received was what I thought it was.

                        Styrofoam shippers: ????? This one I don't get. I used to use pressed pulp shippers, because they seemed to be just as good but took up less storage space. I did learn, however, that styrofoam protects the bottles better...... against possible breakage but, more importantly, they are better insulators against heat or cold.

                        1. re: Midlife


                          I assume you don't like the enviromental aspects of the stryro shipper. The problem is they will not go away as they are the most reliable.

                          I hope everyone re-uses these. I will usually sell mine to a wine shop a low rate so they can reuse them.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            Presells generally require a portion of payment up front, and a portion upon receipt (as opposed to futures, which require full payment) When I pay for something, I want to leave the store with it.

                            Styrofoam is just plain evil - I have a basement full of shippers from years of shipments from a number of retailers - It's nearly impossible to get rid of the stuff - doesn't recycle, one of them nearly fills my garbage can, and they are absolutely dreadful in landfill. All styro products should be banned.

                            1. re: Sam B

                              wineglas has the best idea...resell them to your local guy. I give mine back to my shop because he ships all over the country. He usually gives me going rate and applies the credits on my account.

                              1. re: Sam B


                                I get the anti-styro thing but how would you like your wine shipped to you? The only options for FedEX and UPS are styro, pressed pulp and heavy compartmentalized cartons with special wall configurations to protect the bottles. The latter two are recyclable but they aren't as good at protecting the wine.

                                1. re: Midlife

                                  I'll take pressed pulp, and ship only in acceptable weather.

                                  While I use the shippers I have received for storage (they do add a little insulation), the problem is simply math - as you consume and replace inventory, you wind up with excess shippers. If my retailers were close enough to return the shippers, I'd simply buy the wine in store, negating the need to ship in the first place.

                                2. re: Sam B

                                  Mine go through many useages, before they are retired. Usually, the cardboard gives up first, and the sytro-inserts continiue to do duty.

                                  When I moved my cellar from CO to AZ, I had 93. I gifted them to several of the wine shops in town, and some are probably still providing service, 10 years later. I keep a half-dozen, or so, and use them constantly. When I buy wine in the Summer, I use them to transport it home. None has ever gone completely to waste.