Author Archives: Erin Allen

  1. Allocation Lists: Are they the best decision for your winery?

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    Untitled-1Being in the wine industry, we are fortunate to attend more tastings than the average wine lover. For us, nothing is more exciting than finding a new producer or a new wine during one of these tastings. Here is what usually happens, stream of consciousness to follow…

    Oh I’ve never had their wines before. Hi, can I taste the (insert varietal here)? Wow this is different. I like this. I want to buy this and have it with dinner at my friend’s house this weekend. I need to share this with my friend who is really into (insert varietal here,) they will love this.

    Fast forward to me, back at my computer, on the high of tasting something new that hits all my palate’s needs. I feverishly type the winery’s name into my Google search engine. Click on the website. Pull up the “Purchase here” tab and…a box pops up saying “Please sign-in to view our list of wines for purchase.” Nine times out of ten I’ll feel slightly defeated, exit the screen, and forget about the wine until I see it at a tasting again or on the off chance I see it at a wine store.

    Why in this era of instant gratification, with services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, are we so turned off by one extra step? Is it because we already feel like the world of wine can be elitist and “joining the club” before we can even see the list seems so…off-putting?

    I understand the concept of exclusivity creating demand. But why not be open and transparent to new customers, tempt them to peruse your site, buy a bottle, find they love it, THEN join the list? I have a feeling that I am not alone in my mixed feelings about signing up for a list before knowing what a winery has to offer. And if that is the case – which I am going to go out on a limb her to say it very well could be – then wineries are losing tons of potential loyal customers without even realizing it.

    Do wineries want to have loyal customers on their allocation lists? Yes. Are the times changing with more and more people expressing an interest in wine? Yes. So why push away the potential newbie who wants to explore and buy your wine but doesn’t want that commitment of signing up for a list right away? It’s like going on a first date and asking the person to marry you and then date you…not so logical, is it?

    The allocation list is a wonderful thing, especially for select bottlings and special offerings, but why turn the general wine enthusiast away if you have much more to offer? You never know who could become a customer for life.

  2. Language and Wine

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    Language and Wine

    Language is defined by words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them to be used and understood by a community, ours being the wine community.

    The other day, I was having a conversation with a winemaker about an atypical varietal he chose to grow in his vineyard. A few minutes in, his friend who had tagged along, looked at us both bright-eyed, and said, “I have no idea what’s going on right now,” a reaction which mirrored my own when traveling in a foreign country, watching a butcher explain something to the woman in front of me about the meat he was gesturing towards. There’s definitely a stigma associated with wine because of the way people have chosen to approach it. Playing one of the leading roles in fine dining, it can often be associated with snobbery and being “bougie” (not to be confused with Bugey, haha). But what if we approached wine as another language you can learn?

    It takes the same initiative to learn about wine as it does to learn languages—a person has to be willing to memorize, willing to ask questions, and willing to make mistakes throughout the process. A non-native English speaker will learn both vocabulary and grammar by memorizing a string of words, testing out which orders can be communicated and which cannot. This is the same approach that an adventurous wine drinker can take. Say someone walks into a wine store and ask for “Mer-lat,” because they’ve seen their friends drink it before or they’ve seen it on a sign in the wine aisle at the grocery store. They may not have the developed vocabulary to buy the wine that they like because they simply don’t know the words yet. After multiple trips to a wine shop with helpful staff, this once novice wine drinker might learn that they prefer Merlots from Napa Valley, or perhaps a Bordeaux blend, or maybe even a Mencia from Ribera Sacra. Once the foundations of wine terms are set, they can choose what they like and can focus on asking for a regional style, or producer, because they understand that these regions and producers generally entail specific styles. This process is very similar to learning the nuances of a foreign language, like how the process can entail unfamiliar connotations.

    Since the language of wine is like learning any other foreign language, wine stewards and store clerks should play a large role in wine education by working with what they understand about the customer, and helping to translate that into a bottle to fit the client’s desires. Perhaps if everyone saw wine as a new language, both wine enthusiasts and new wine drinkers could gain a better understanding for the world of wine.