This post is dedicated to the guys at 56 Degree Wine. Thank you for the extremely humbling experiences these past three years. 🙂 Forgive the rambling nature of this post, for I’m still fuming, even after waiting a day to write this!
I would like to think that it takes a LOT to make me angry. Manish would beg to differ, but that’s for him to blog about… 😉
I’ll start with this: Most of you know that I LOVE my job at the wine shop. I feel like everyday is an education, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do something that I am so passionate about. After three years of working at 56, I can confidently say that there is a (small, select) group of people that will actually come to me for advice on pairings. It’s extremely flattering, but more than that, rewarding, as I have customers that are truly willing to experiment with any region or grape varietal and rely on the advice of their favorite wine shop to guide them through a tasting or pairing for a special evening or event. And they usually email me or come back soon to tell me about their experience. This is why I LOVE my job. Now, the RANT.
I was forced (due to time of day) to visit another (eeek!) wine shop yesterday. I needed to condense three stops into one (flowers, cheese, and wine) and they were all available at said wine shop. I respect the owner of this place, so I will spare the name for his sake. BUT… I will definitely email him to let him know of my experience.
I walked in, and ordered my cheese and charcuterie. While I waited for my order to be filled, I browsed the store. A fellow, let’s call him “Dave,” approached me and asked me if I needed help. I thought that a Loire white was in order for my 1st course that evening, so I asked Dave to point me in the direction of where they carry their Sancerre and Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire. He not only looked at me like I had two heads, but corrected my pronunciation of Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc. I wasn’t annoyed, just humored. I found what I was looking for (a SB from “Quincy” pronounced “CAN-SEE” goodness forbid you are ever tested on French pronunciation) and he immediately shook his head no. He assumed that I would want something with more fruit, less mineral tones. I replied that I enjoy wines from this region and he seemed to have an issue with his eyes just then, because they seemed to roll as though HE was annoyed. Whatever.
**A quick aside… I have heard many times how “intimidating” or “pretentious” wine shops can be. I am usually not in agreement with this thought. However, at this point of my visit to this wine shop, I understood that. Dave was one of those unapproachable WINE SNOBS!**
I was then in search of a wine for courses 2 and 3. I didn’t want to ask Dave where they kept their Burgundy for fear that he would expect me to ask the exact region that I was looking for. I found two wines that intrigued me that were within my budget. A 2005 Monthelie (Pierre Morey) and a 2004 Santenay (Bruno Colin.) I was familiar with white wines from Bruno Colin but never tried the Santenay. Knowing what I know about the 2004 vs 2005 vintages, I was torn between the two. I figured that the 2004 is probably a better wine to open today while the 2005 is a better vintage but not as approachable now. I wasn’t sure of the vintages specific to either region, so I decided to ask the resident expert, giving him a chance to redeem himself. He looked at me, and made a “poo-poo” face at the Monthelie. And then said that the Bruno Colin is much better. I asked why, and he replied “It’s Burgundy… sometimes they get it right, but most of the time, they don’t!” (JB are you reading this?) As I started to ask more details, he walked away from me. I was still standing there, two bottles of wine in my hands. I was in shock.
**Another aside… The minute that one feels THAT disgusted with a job that he starts treating the livelihood of the business (in this case the customer) with such disrespect, he must know to leave, right then and there. Dave may have had the French accent down, he may have known a little bit about what his typical customers want, but he certainly did not get a chance to know me. That is 50% of the sale right there – actually understanding why the customer is shopping that day and getting to know what they like. Who the heck cares what DAVE likes. I am not buying the wine for him!**
I am very disappointed to say that I did still purchase my products, but not before I vowed to speak to the owner of the shop and write nasty post about Dave. My family and friends that I dined with last night heard this story and then asked jokingly if I stormed back into the shop and said “Do YOU know who I AM!!!?? Do YOU know who I WORK for!?” I laughed and said no… But could you imagine? Dave would have been mortified! I wish I was witty enough to come up with a French phrase now that describes what I think of him. Oh well – you get the point!
More on food next time!