Thursday, April 3, 2014

Reflections After A Month of Not Buying Wine

In an effort to focus on a back log of samples/aging wine and cut back on expenses, March was a month of abstinence where wine shopping is concerned.  Note that this was simply an exercise in restraint of purchasing, not imbibing.  I mean, the wheels haven't fallen completely off the cart here. 

Interestingly, going a month without shopping for wine yielded some thoughts worth sharing.

First, this was not nearly the sacrifice I had anticipated.  In fact, it wasn't a bother at all.  For someone for whom the action is nearly habitual at this point in life, I sort of figured I'd find myself standing in a wine shop wondering how I got there, embarrassed for a moment before walking out empty-handed.  So, reflecting on the past month, my first question is, why was this so easy?
  1. The retail wine shopping experience has lost much of its romance.  Shops large and small are not the inviting places they used to be.  Increasingly staffed by stoned twenty-somethings who shrug in response to questions, or, worse, staffed by rushed, quota-driven sales people focused on, well, sales.  Shelves are cluttered, disorganized, and depressingly low on inventory.  Maybe this is why consumers who know what they want bypass the ambivalent experience and shop online.
  2. Casual observation of pricing suggests that #6 on my 10 Predictions For Wine in 2014 was correct. I've seen 20% increases on some bottles.  Is the wine getting that much better?  No, it is not.  It's the exact some wine that was on the shelf in February, for crying out loud.
  3. Consolidation of portfolio breadth continues.  That means fewer new offerings and fewer options period.
  4. Thanks to a business-minded approach to #3, there is a lot of crap being peddled out there.  
Taken together, one wonders whether there's anything compelling at all in the market these days.  But there is.  It's just a lot harder to find.  And that's what we'll keep doing here on this blog.

PS- First wine purchased in April?  2011 Columbia Crest Merlot H3.  There's a lot to be said for reliability.

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