Occasionally though, I will venture into one of our local wine shops or an upscale market wine department to supplement our “cellar.” But I’ve yet to find a wine guy I can trust. And I’m probably not alone. Here are the top three reasons to divorce your wine guy.
He Assumes You’re a Cheap Date
When I go into his shop to supplement my cellar, I’m usually looking for very good, value wines that I already know and love. It never fails that the wine guy shows up right after I’ve put two or three bottles of under $20 wine in my cart. I might ask for a particular Chilean cab that I know is good. But he says he doesn’t have that in yet. Instead he directs me to a California Cabernet Sauvignon priced at $7.99. While there may be a good one out there at that price, I find that highly doubtful. Look dude, I know the difference between good and bad. I asked you about a wine. Don’t assume I’m asking about a price point.
He Assumes You’re Stupid
Last week we had a virtual tasting and I was looking for a particular vintage of a particular wine. I was pretty certain that it would not yet be in, because it had just been released and was making its way through the vaunted three-tier system. Upon finding the particular wine, I note only 2006 and 2007 vintages on the shelves. Mr. Helpful comes over and I ask, “Are 2006 and 2007 the only vintages you have available.” And he replies smugly. “Well of course. You aren’t going to find any older vintages at this location.” Actually, I was looking for the 2008. Don’t assume I’m not familiar with your shop.
He Assumes You’re Easy
One local shop is notorious for this one. Every year when the Wine Spectator Top Wines of the previous year comes out, we make our pilgrimage to procure them to compare with other wines we like. Before I had a smartphone, I would carry a piece of paper in with me to make sure I had the right vintage. Now I just have the digital list. As subscribers we can get them in advance. But keep in mind, I’m looking at a list in full view of the wine guy.
“Do you have the 2007 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River Valley?” I ask. “The one that made Wine Spectator‘s Top Ten Wines of 2009?” And the wine guy answers something to the effect of ‘no one ever has the wines listed in Wine Spectator.’ And then proceeds to direct me to whatever white wine he’s pushing that week.
Seriously, one of these things is not like the other. As if all I want is a white wine with a woman’s name on it. How did that work out for the country in 2008, dude? Don’t assume I’m looking for any old substitution.
Is It just a Man Thing?
You’ll note I didn’t say wine guy or gal. Just guy. That’s because this rarely happens when I ask a woman about wine.
Case in Point: After the wine guy tells me there is no Merry Edwards in the place, a woman asks if I found what I’m seeking. When I say no, she offers to look up the wine in her on-line inventory (it’s a big place). At her screen, she says, “that’s strange, it says here we have four bottles.” We walk back to scour the Sauvignon Blanc section to no avail. “Let me look in the back,” she says. Still no wine. But she has given me enough to keep my eye out in case it has just been misshelved.
Sure enough, amongst the Pinot Noir, there are four 375 ml bottles of the Merry Edwards. Guess the whole Russian River Valley thing threw someone off. I pick up three and tell the wine lady about the one remaining. I probably should have purchased it as well, but I don’t want to be a hoarder.
It’s All About Assumptions
If you have a usual wine merchant who knows your tastes, listens and offers advice when asked, great! He’s a keeper. But if your merchant assumes he knows more than you do, and treats you as such then you’re in a really bad relationship. If he talks down to you, lies to you, treats you like you’re stupid or even gives you advice when you clearly haven’t asked for it, it’s time to get a divorce.
And if you’re the guilty wine guy in this relationship, you might want to get some counseling.
In the words of Felix Unger, “NEVER Assume. When you assume, you make an ass of u and me.”
Well, actually just out of you.