So how common is it for people to succumb to recommendations from floor salespeople?
I have been buying roses for the summer on the low side of the price range for a while. (<10-13) I pick the mineral non-sweet wines from Chinon, Pic Saint Loup, and other regions which I know better. Always look for estate grown/vinified ones. I don’t want sweet tap water. It has worked for me.
So today a floor sales person I interact with but don’t usually listen to suggested a Provence rose. Only a couple left $15 price on the higher end of my price point. I said what the heck. Smelled of a marketing push for Provence but how bad could it be. So I just opened it - smells of cat pee, strawberry, and a hint of skunk.
My question is how often do you succumb to a sales pitch and get disappointed?
I am trusting so it happens to me more often than not. I always want to try something new.
Unfortunately I find better deals and wines when I do my own searches.
Yeah, recently I was at ACME in St Helena and picked up a Hungarian white and asked the fellow there what he thought. He checked his notes and said he gave it his highest rating. Great acidity blah blah blah. It ended up be kinda bland.
He was a new guy there. I’ll have to remember mine and his palate do not align.
When I was in wine retail, I pushed what I thought a customer might like. I would ask basic questions, try to peak at the contents of their baskets, and make recommendations.
I had ZERO incentive to push a wine on a display stack, as those were wines that certain customers bought routinely. I always thought that it was in the shop’s best interests to encourage employees to taste as many different wines as possible.
I am certain that I was in the minority of liquor/wine shop employees in many respects. I hope that I am wrong about that.
A little conversation about wines I know and like/dislike tells me if the salesperson knows their stuff. If they do, I’m willing to take their advice and the success rate is pretty high. If they don’t, I’ll usually just nod, say something non-commital and move on.
Frankly, I rarely step foot in wine shops any longer. I have no time to do so, really, and I know what I like and what I want to buy. And I know enough about the kinds of wines I do like to distinguish between something I want to try and something that was bought by the shop with a good margin.
there are a few salespeople I’ll always listen to (e.g., David Lillie at Chamber St.). But I’ll usually ignore recs. And, for slightly different reasons than Neal, I also avoid going to wine stores these days.
The last time I stepped into CSW to buy a bottle I walked out with nearly a full case. I can’t be trusted.
I’ll still go into a wine shop now & again because I have some good ones nearby. Canal’s and Wine Works have nice prices on things I like, including JJ Christoffel, Shafer One Point Five, and Chappellet. It also helps that there are very good empioyees at these places, particularly Charlie at Wine Works.
I’ve had fantastic luck at my favorite wine store in Dallas, Pogos. A sales person there, Lance, recently had his own store and has also led several classes I’ve attended. I frequently take his recommendations (or seek them out to get out of a rut) and rarely have I been disappointed. Occasionally, the wine isn’t necessarily my jam, but I understand why he recommended that. I think the key here is relationship- would I walk into Total Wine or Specs and take a recommendation, no. Would I take a recommendation from someone who I’ve developed a report with, yes. The last time I did I ended up with one of the most boring (and overwrought) Albarinos in existence.
I was interested in some grape from some particular region of Italy (can’t remember what it was now). I asked someone at the store for a rec, and he pointed me to a woman at the end of the aisle who was pouring some wine samples from Italy. Said she represented a really good one. Went and spoke with her. Said she was not pouring that wine that day, but pointed out the wine I was looking for. In meantime, we tasted her wines. Was not impressed. Was not impressed with the wine I was directed to either.
I got really lucky, one of the first people I met when I started buying wine was a guy named Bryan Shuttleworth. He ran the wine section at a high end neighborhood deli/market.
He recommended some of the greatest wines I have ever had, many of which were not well known then, like1991 Dom. Peyre Rose, Coulee de Serrant(pre-Joly), Cuvée Frederic Emile from Trimbach, Alain Graillot($14.99 in 1999). 28 years later he’s still the best for great under the radar European wines that I generally love.
I think the key is to search until you find someone that does get you the wines that you like, and the wines you will really like but just don’t know it yet, and then build the relationship from there.
I did extremely well listening to Greg dal Piaz when he was at Astor many years ago, from California to Italy. More recently Bob Millman at Grapes in White Plains has flagged up a bunch of offbeat things that I’ve loved (Chilean, French, Italian). And I’ve seldom been steered wrong by Chambers Street’s e-mails. You just have to know who’s doing the recommending and whether your tastes align.
Some salesfolk are quite helpful. When I was first starting out, there were a couple of guys at Big Y Wines (Northampton, Mass.) who did a great job of recommending a variety of wines and – most importantly – listening to feedback as to which onees I really enjoyed and which ones I didn’t, using that info to fine-tune further recommendations.
One of the things I really like about buying from the importers I work with who sell direct to consumer is that, though I am sure I won’t like every wine they bring in, I am confident they are excited about every single one and are rarely if ever falling into that trap of a salesperson trying to move what the store needs to sell. A high hit rate on recommendations is always a matter of trusting the salesperson and yourself - your own filter will help you enormously.
I usually don’t seek out advice. I get it anyway - the salesperson was enthused and I think liked the wine. I think some people are not as discriminating and don’t notice flaws as much as I do. No need to return the opened bottle. I will finish it. The part that surprised me was that the Rose was not innocuous - it had strong aromas but the taste was not as bad. I typically do not dis many wines especially Roses on the boards. I think it had 96 from Decanter. Can’t fathom that.
Wine selection in the store is great - my preferences are just not aligned with most of the salespeople.
Well, for starters, few here are trying to sell me anything or have a profit motive in seeing to it that I buy anything. No one’s getting a commission or has been told to “get this pinot gris crap off the floor.” Indeed, it is often against the vested interests of board members to pimp a particular wine as stock may disappear.