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Steven Noess

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Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Steven Noess » Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:27 pm

The other day I was in a local wine-liquor store and I overheard a couple who were apparently shopping for a mixed case of wine (for the discount, no doubt, as that's what I do), but from the sound of their conversation, they were certainly not very knowledeable about wine. As I got closer, I heard the woman say to her husband, "We need three more bottles...I want to get more white, but I don't know what we should get."

I'm certainly not pretentious about my hobby, as I am just starting to know enough about wine to know how much I don't know, so as I got closer, I thought perhaps I could lend a helping hand. I had just picked up a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling (Washington). I lived in Germany for a number of years and developed a taste for the grape, and this is one of the best bang for the buck examples I've found in the U.S. It was on sale for $7 a bottle. I said to the woman, "Excuse me, if you're looking for an interesting white that's a good value, you might try this, I think you'll like it and it's on sale."

So much for trying to be a nice guy. She looked at the bottle, then me, contorted her face and said, "Ewww, Riesling. Yuck! . . . Actually, though, can you help me find the 'White Zinfandel,' we can't seem to find it anywhere?"
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Thomas

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Thomas » Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:44 pm

That's beautiful.

Reminds me of the time I saw a young woman gagging for air at her table in a restaurant. Her mother seemed embarrassed, looked at me and said, "she's got asthma." Then she gave her daughter the white wine they were drinking and said, "here, take some of this."

"no, no," I shouted. "If she has asthma she should not drink that wine right now." I was referring to the sulfites of course.

The lady no longer looked embarrassed but she did look like she was going to kick my ass for telling her what to do.
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RonicaJM

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by RonicaJM » Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:57 am

Steven,

continue to offer a helping hand. I use to be one of those white zin drinkers, now I can't tolerate the stuff. Also, some of the ladies in my wine tasting club were the same way. They went from white zin to Chardonnay, to Gerwurts, to Riesling to Viognier.

There are many times I'm shopping for wine and needing help w/ none to be found. So keep helping. :)
In vino veritas...
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donna

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by donna » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:14 am

I agree with Ronica keep helping ... maybe those people didn't understand what they had in their presence but there are lots of others out there who appreciate such help... myself being one of them ...
"Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." -- Odyssey (9th c. B.C.)
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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Kevin Glowacki » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:36 am

As someone who does work in retail, I am constantly offering to help...it is my job after all. I've gotten the "too sweet" reaction when I suggest a rose or Riesling. (BTW...I agree on the CSM being a great value). My favorite was when I suggested a new rose sparkling wine we've got in from France, but was told it would be too sweet in their opinion, ignoring my pointing out it was a Brut. They went for a the Domaine St. Michelle Extra Dry instead. C'est la vie.

Never be afraid to share your enthusiasm and knowledge, even if it does get shot down.
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Paul B.

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Paul B. » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:20 am

Steven,

I, too, would not despair and continue to offer friendly advice as you did ... but at the moment I see that the person in question is way off on another tangent (i.e. they're a WZ drinker or can't stand dry wines), I respectfully disengage and leave them be on their chosen path. I think that's all that one can do. Perhaps one day their tastes will evolve, but I don't think it's something that typically happens overnight. Heck - I know some people who, after years of my gently trying to steer them over to dry table wines, still prefer sweet soda-pop industrial wine beverages.
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Sam Platt

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Sam Platt » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:28 am

A few months ago as I was picking up a few bottles when a gentleman asked me if I knew anything about wine. It was his anniversary, and he said that his wife liked "Burgundy". I took him to the small Burgundy section and pointed out a couple of village and primier cru selections that I liked. He pondered the bottles for a few seconds and then said, "She doesn't like the French Burgundy". I explained that "French" was the only type of Burgundy. He sort of looked at me like I was an idiot and said he had purchased a California Burgundy on one occasion that they both really liked. To add insult to injury he sort of waved dismissively at me and said he would get clerk to help him. I held my tongue, but wanted to choke him. He ended up leaving with some sort of low end Merlot. What a chump!
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Howie Hart

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Howie Hart » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:34 am

This is an excerpt from a post I made a few weeks ago:

....As I walked out of the store with the peppers, I decided to browse the wine shop next door to see if they had a Bandol so I could participate in this month's Wine Focus. While browsing, a customer came in and I overheard him ask "I'm looking for an organic Pinot Noir, one with out sulfates". AARRRGGHH! I had to choke myself to keep from jumping into the conversation. When the disappointed customer left, I heard the owner of the store instructing the new employee on how to handle such a situation. This conversation I jumped into and shared some of my knowledge of the topic with both of them, including correcting the sulfates - sulfites confusion. I left and .....
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Steven Noess

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Steven Noess » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:59 am

Indeed, I will continue to offer advice--and ask for help myself--whenever I have the opportunity. It was just one of those frustrating moments, albeit trivial, that made me wince. And the frustration wasn't from her wanting a WZ (If that's what makes her happy, what do I care?), it was from the knowledge that she probably would have liked the CSM and all I could do about it was bite my tongue and smile.

Since I'm usually shopping for more modestly-priced wines for everyday use, some of the best I've had have been from in-store recommendations. As such, I've certainly come to appreciate the opinions of others in finding those hidden gems...I love it when I can open a bottle and be able to exclaim, "Wow, I can't believe this was only $12!"
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Glenn Mackles

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Glenn Mackles » Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:23 pm

I think many people are either creatures of habit or are afraid to try new things. I offer as an example the tale of my lady companion. When I met her about 4 years ago, the only wine she drank was inexpensive (under $10) pinot grigios. I knew there was hope however, because she told me that she used to drink inexpensive chardonnays but had decided about a year before that she liked the pinot grigios better. But she wouldn't touch a red with a 10 foot pole. First I started her out on some other whites like Savignon Blanc and Chablis to widen her choices Then we worked slowly by going to some wine tastings so she could try other wines. I slowly got her interested in some light burgundies and pinot noirs as "a change of pace." When she accepted those we moved on to an Austrailian GSM. When that went down OK, next was a straight Shiraz. We haven't quite gotten to cabernets yet, but we're getting there. We both have been having fun with this. Graduation was a few weeks ago when we were at a friend's house and she was asked if she wanted a red or white wine and I actually heard her say "Red."

The moral to this (if there is one at all) is that people are scared to try new wines, especially if they are paying for them. I think many wine people forget just how intimidating a wine store is to a newbie. And the last thing many intimidated people want is to appear is unknowlegeable and out of place. They also can be suspicious of the people who work in the store for lots of reasons. But there also are people who truly want to learn. I think you just had the bad luck to run into a person who didn't really want to learn anything. But I applaud you for trying... and don't give up.

Glenn
"If you can find something everyone agrees on, it's wrong." Mo Udall
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Clinton Macsherry

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Clinton Macsherry » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:16 pm

donna wrote:. . . there are lots of others out there who appreciate such help... myself being one of them ...


Hey, Donna, welcome! Glad you found your way here. Hope you'll find it a fun place to learn and talk about wine. Love the Odyssey quote!
FEAR THE TURTLE ! ! !
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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Rahsaan » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:23 pm

Yes, I've had mixed responses trying to help people as well.

In some cases people just don't respond because I think they weren't prepared to receive comments from strangers.

Then again in other situations they take the advice quite seriously.

Tough business being a salesperson however, because so much depends on what the customer wants from wine, so, I find it really hard to make suggestions unless I know people and their palates well.
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: Argh. Tried to be nice and help a couple in a wine shop...

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:29 pm

That is a really good point Rahsaan. When I look in on the Grill, some of the servers run over when a customer is waffling about the list and is not sure what to order. "Find out what they might be eating....ask them which wines they are familar with at home/wherever....and go from there".

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