The Grapevine

Deceptive Practices in Retail Wine Shops

July 25th, 2017

Watch your shelf talkers and other signage. Be careful that laziness can’t be interpreted as deceptiveness – and for heaven’s sake, Don’t Be Deceptive! [level-members]

We just came across an article from a bit more than a year ago about findings in Connecticut of widespread misleading wine store signage. I have no doubt that there are some unscrupulous wine merchants in the world, but 90% seems pretty unlikely. So what gives? Laziness and inattention is my guess.  

Many of the claims revolve around “wines being advertised that aren’t being sold.” In other words, your shelf talker is describing ratings for the vintage of the century and what you’ve got on the shelf is … not that vintage.

It’s easy to see why this happens – staff not trained to make the switch or you simply not wanting to have to create a new sign.

But as overzealous as the Connecticut charges sound, signs talking up vintages that aren’t on the shelf really are misleading. Worse, they a huge turn-off to the sophisticated customers you want most to please. (We’ve seen this on restaurant wine lists much more frequently than we have in wine shops, I have to say.)

So guard against this. You might even create a standardized shelf talker format that includes space for ratings of older vintages and the ability to note that the current vintage hasn’t been rated yet. (Though you still want to update that as soon as the ratings are available.)