Wine For Thought: Oh Brother! Where art thou berry?
The guilded bottle shop known as the Independent Wine Merchant, a veritable light-house for all wine based desires…… or at least, that’s what it should be. berry
In most cases what makes these independent wine shops so special, apart from the selection of wines, is the staff (berry). These fine upstanding wine fanatics are usually well trained in the 2 most important aspects of selling wine; 1. They have some form of wine education 2. Customer service ( the desire to share their berry knowledge in the hopes of making the buying of wine easier for the customer). A large part of an independent shops success is balanced on the reputation they earn and that reputation is earned through great customer service and great wines. If you should have the fortune of having one nearby, try talking to the various wine specialists on hand, perhaps even creating a bond with one who gave you great advice, this will both help you feel at ease when buying wines from them but it will also give them the chance to better understand your likes and dislikes. This dynamic is more important that we sometimes realize! Berry well versed in wines can often take our maybe limited wine knowledge and guide us on to styles or varieties that we wouldn’t normally consider, thus opening our minds to whole new worlds of wine.
Now, let’s talk about the selection! The other important thing that defines these tiny wine cathedrals is the diverse catalogue of wines that they can offer. What stands them apart from the supermarket gang is that, as they purchase with variety in mind and less in bulk, they are much more selective of the types and quality of the wines they offer. Sure they probably sell a Pinot Noir from Chile ( or 2 or 3) just like the supermarket down the road, but you can be sure that whilst 1 might be a crowd pleaser ( the easy drinking around a tenner bottle) the other 2 will be of a different production method or varying degrees of higher quality and the person on hand will be able to explain just how those differences impact the wine. More importantly though is that they will also offer wines that are more unique in style, fancy a white for your roast chicken dinner and want to try something new? Well how about this 24 month American oak aged Semillon/Sauvignon blend from the Chamonix winery in South Africa or this Prensal Blanc/ Chardonnay blend left on its lees and barreled for 12 months from the Binigrau Winery in Mallorca?
Walking in to an Independent wine shop is almost a guarantee for a positive wine shopping experience, I say almost because as with all things in the human world, where some succeed through hard work and dedication to their craft there will always be those who will try to copy the business model and ignore the idea with no investment in to the ….for lack of a better word, dream behind it. You can easily tell the good ones apart though as you will be able to hold interesting and passionate discourse with those who work in a place where such a thing is coveted.
On that dime, make sure to at least give your closest Independent a try and see if they can suggest a good wine to go with these bizarre and informative wine blogs I write.