Friday, September 19, 2008


Sometimes I surf Wine Blogs like laying out newspapers from various parts of the world, and mine the information strewn out before me. Thanks again to Tom Wark of Fermentation for turning me on to the latest article in the Sommelier Journal, entitled Navigating the Three-Tier System, by Master of Wine Robert Bath. I’ve spoken to you about various aspects of my job, the behind-the-scenes stuff, and this article certainly paints a more vivid picture for wine consumers.

I have this feeling that I am one of those Rock’Em-Sock’Em Robots (probably the red one) everyday at work, mainly because as the wine buyer for a “bridge” store, I have to not only be conscious of what my competition is doing, but the folks across the river are doing too. Especially in this day-and-age, price is the biggest selling point to worry about, and here in the Wild-Wild-West of Kentucky, it’s a quickdraw, shoot-‘em-up.

You never know what a customer is going to ask for, because the wine publications out there do not pay attention to what wines are available nationally. Many of the wines listed in Spectator, Parker and the others are more-than-likely available in the major metropolitan areas like NYC and LA, yet here in the Midwest, you’re S.O.L. And much of it is due to the 3-tier system put in place after the repeal of Prohibition and still going strong today. In Robert Bath’s article, he details the difficulty sommeliers face in navigating the stogy, archaic landscape of the system, and in its aging largesse, the system is growing rickety and obsolete.

What this means for the wine consumer is anyone’s guess. However, the push for online wine sales grows, what with the increasing amount of consumer-driven lawsuits challenging state laws, as well as and the Wall Street Journal entering the direct-to-consumers wine business. Tomorrow is a whole new day.

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