Monday, February 15, 2010

The double edged sword of the wine buzz-word

For those of us whose task it is to sell wine, we have come to rely on a series of "buzz words". We use these words every day. They help us to paint a romanticized picture of a fairly technical process. We assume that members of the trade automatically understand the implications of time on lees, batonnage, french oak, <1 ton/ acre, etc. This is further complicated by the sales "tools" that rattle off this information without paying attention to how closely the buyer is following you. It's almost like sales people just memorize a bunch of facts, blurt them off to sound credible, but are ultimately unable to connect the novice to why these terms are significant.
The only way I got anywhere in this industry was by asking reps to stop and explain every term they just repeated. I either learned something new, or exposed them (unintentionally) for the tools that they were. Whenever I do a sales presentation, I make sure to gauge the buyers understanding, and give them a chance to ask questions. If they can't connect the dots, they're less likely to understand the efforts that have gone into making the wine so special. Remember, you're not selling anything, you're teaching the buyers about your wine. Otherwise, you may as well be throwing in the under-body coating for free.


  1. Some times I think there is a major disconnect in the language of wine. There is the language of the trade you mention and the language of retail. The language of retail seems to be dominated by one question repeated over and over again in retail stores. "How much do you want to spend."

  2. Sooo true Ron. It is amazing how many people never get farther than that, even at high-end establishments. Many wine drinker recent having to learn anything at all.