Last week I worked a distributor event, standing behind a table pouring my company's wines to retail and restaurant wine buyers, waitstaff, sales reps, and other trade/industry people. This is always a pleasure for me, as I thoroughly enjoy interacting with people who get a kick out of wine and looking to explore and educate themselves. It's also a fantastic way for me to get a feel for what distributor sales managers and reps are experiencing, as well as getting an understanding of the needs, knowledge, and challenges facing retailers and restaurateurs. Anyone at the “supplier level” — a.k.a., the top tier of the three-tier system — should work events such as this a few times a year (as well as spend time “on the ground”) to better understand their customers.
This particular tasting was in New Jersey — my home state — and though I've been doing NJ shows for over 15 years, I'm always stunned that no one spits. Ever. There are spit buckets at every table, but they're used only for pouring out the contents of a glass. For whatever reason, NJ people believe spitting at a wine tasting is rude; I've not experienced this, at the trade level, in any other market in the United States. How people can taste dozens of wine, not spit, and still remain standing — much less, drive home — boggles my mind.
But I digress …
Every time I work one of these shows, I learn a few things, meet new people, and usually, have at least one experience or interaction that makes me shake my head. At this show, the head-shaking moment came unexpectedly, while speaking with an otherwise very smart, personable retailer. [Read more...]