Right off the bat, I know this sounds crazy. I’ve spent the time to research and write about wine and I am STILL willing to allow someone else to shop for me?!? Well, HELL YES I am!
Of course, there are some rules to this practice:
- I don’t shop for wine in a grocery, a pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens) or Walmart. There’s no one to talk about wine there anyway! On top of that, when I see people struggling to pick a wine in those places, I often just shop for THEM.
- I don’t need someone to shop for me when I already know what I need. When I am in the mood for 2-Buck Chuck, I just go get it!
- I come prepared. I know what type of wine or from what wine region I’d like to try. I also know a price range in which I want to spend. Just because I don’t know the store’s inventory, doesn’t mean I don’t know the difference between a $6 bottle of Barefoot Muscato and a $50 bottle of Penfolds.
- I make sure I vet my potential wine buyer. I love to talk about wine, I love to hear other people’s experiences, but most of all I love to see people COME ALIVE when they are talking about wine. These are the people I let buy wine for me. Best thing is, these people exist in stores like Total Wine, at Trader Joes, but especially small wine shops! When these people know that you are willing to engage them, they will very often go the extra mile to give you a great bottle.
- I allow myself to be vetted as a buyer. I am not afraid to be wrong about wine and I don’t go into these environments with an ego. In fact, I am often downright sweet! I engage without “showing off” about what I believe/know. My goal in getting someone to shop for me is for them to use their insider knowledge for my benefit. Allowing the wine clerk to learn about me through a positive engagement also allows him to learn my taste in wine that much better. Win-win when I walk out with great social engagement AND the perfect bottle of Cab Franc!
These rules served me well just this past weekend for Valentine’s Day. I have a small, specialized wine shop in my town and using these rules, I walked out with an amazing Bordeaux blend made locally. As a woman, it usually never works out when someone else shops for me. However, unlike jeans and shoes, a good bottle of wine ALWAYS fits me!