Wine or label?
April 18, 2009
A couple of days ago I have received a call from the manager of one of the restaurants we supply complaining about one of the wines we supply them with. It took me a few minutes to understand that the complaint was not about the wines itself, but was about the label. There was nothing wrong with the wine but simply the manager thought that because of the label the wine would not sell. I have to precise that the label has nothing wrong, it is simply the combination of a classic wine and a small producer.
This call left me speechless and shocked and the only thing I could say was that if he was not happy about the label I would have arranged for the wine to be taken back. I was also amazed to hear that the manager was happy to pay a bit more for a better label, without even taking into consideration what was inside the bottle. After the conversation, I agreed to take the wine back, I started thinking about the call and I felt disappointed, because, if restaurants, start buying wines by the label, it will be the end of wine as I know it. Restaurants are supposedly the place where customers are guided in their wine purchases and don't look at the label when choosing the wine.
Spending many hours on the road and eating often out, I know that this is not the only case, it is probably the first one that happened to me. I see plenty of restaurants serving plenty of good looking, poor quality, wines and whilst supermarkets that sell plenty of wine by the label, are now starting to stock normal label wines on the shelves to deceive their customers, giving the impression that they are buying a small production wine, restaurants are now going the other direction.
Good looking labels are not the only case where wine is not sold for its quality. A classic example is the Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio is currently the most sold wine and every restaurant has at least one on its wine list, however, many restaurants are selling Pinot Grigio blends that have the only reason in making a cheaper wine, because the other grape is cheaper than the Pinot grigio one, examples are Pinot grigio/cataratto and Pinot grigio/garganega. These wine are not available in Italy and only made for export.
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