The Grapevine

How to Replace Robert Parker and Wine Spectator

February 2nd, 2016

Sure, some people prefer to be told what to think. It’s so much easier than thinking for yourself. But that’s not the kind of customer you should build your wine business around. [level-members]

You probably feel pressured into putting reviews and scores on at least some wines on your shelves. People love that stamp of approval and validation. But those numbers are, in the long run, a bad thing for most wine drinkers.

They’re bad because they become not just the authority and “the truth,” but they do so in an intimidating way.

Your goal should be to help your customers figure out what they like as individuals – not what they are supposed to like or what the wine steward at the hippest restaurant in San Francisco likes.

What they enjoy is what matters. So you need not only to help them find the wines that fit them best, you need to convince them that it doesn’t matter what the Spectator or anyone else says. It doesn’t even matter what you say! What matters is what they think of the wine and whether they enjoyed it.

 Which isn’t to say that your advice isn’t worth listening to or  that the Spectator isn’t worth reading. But all “authority figures” should be viewed as guides who you can look to for new ideas and different perspectives. Take what works for you and discard the rest.

If you can convince them to do that – and convince them that their opinion is really the only one that matters – you’ll have a customer for life. In other words, they need to buy wine for themselves, not their neighbors, their boss or their in-laws.