Challenge Your Wine Merchant – James Melendez


Often wine merchants want to carry wines that sell.  I think many but no all are receptive to hear what their customers wants–some even paternalistic.  The paternalism is that “father knows best” but there is a relationship of wine merchant and customer and it is a dialogue.  The dialogue is being keen enough to understand customer needs and to also from the merchant point of view be willing to sell interesting wines–wines that don’t get a lot of shelf space or attention.

Many of the world’s wine regions are producing high quality wines and deserve a spot on a wine shelf at wine merchants world wide.  Coming back from Radici del Sud–what did I want first thing–wines from Puglia and other southern Italian wine regions.  I went to my favourite grocer which has well what can best be described as eclectic?  Perhaps I am being too nice–it is incoherent–there I said it.  I asked for a Fiano, Negroamaro, Aglianico or Primitivo–the answer was simple—no, no, no and no.  I was offered substitutes which I offered a polite “no.”  I asked for wine merchant if they could bring them in—of course–no feedback.  My job and yes I do buy wines is that I want a specific region.  I have fallen in love with southern Italian wines for sometime and I believe they have been ready for the world stage for some time.

Wine merchants and even the paternalistic ones will have to be listening to their customer base.  Today more than ever is a large online presence and I think many people are going to devote themselves to buying online solely if they feel there needs are not being met.   Online wine retailers also offer ease of shopping–so there is that competitive pressure.

I believe as a wine writer, wine judge, wine educator and wine videographer and wine consumer it is my obligation to ask for what I want to see at a retailer–online or off.  Why not take that posture yourself–ask for the wines you want to see at your favourite wine merchant.



Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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