Seven Things They Hate About You

You think your wine merchant likes you? Respects your taste? Is interested in your opinions? Maybe, but consider whether you have ever strained their patience by one or more of the following behaviors: Gotcha! Every shop has a few customers who seem less interested in buying a bottle of wine than in proving they know more about wine than the owner does. Maybe they do. Does that make their behavior any less offensive? Gotcha! Part 2 Owners, beware the customer who asks innocently if you stock Guigal's 1989 Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune "La Turque" (retailing for around $450 a bottle, if there's a drop left outside the winery), because when you say "No," for sure they're going to ask, "Why not?" Gotcha! Part 3 As above, but this time when you say "No," they say, "Why not? It got a 94 in Wine Spectator," as if Wine Spectator (or Robert Parker, or Stephen Tanzer, or . . . ) is the world's ultimate authority on wine.

These are what shop owners have to put up with from aficionados, real and self-styled. Less experienced buyers have more excuse for their peccadillos, but then there are more of them, too. . . . You like Costco so much? So shop there! It's becoming increasingly more common for shoppers to try to extort discounts from retailers by pointing out that Costco and other discount wine sellers sometimes offer lower prices. This ignores the cost of the service people go to a specialty shop for in the first place. "Do you have . . . ?" This opening is followed by one of several alternatives: (a) a long, thoughtful pause, while the questioner's gaze is directed slightly over the salesperson's left shoulder; or, if interrupted, the further information that (b) "it had a red label," or (c) "I think it was from Italy," or, often, (d) "it was right here in this box last week." "Does this wine age well?" The customer doesn't really want to know; but they think that if the $10 wine they propose to drink tonight would age well, then it must be better than the $10 wine next to it on the shelf. "That reminds me of something interesting that happened to us in Dijon. . . . " And indeed, maybe it was interesting; but why did the shopper have to think of it when their checkbook's already open and there are three other people behind them in line?

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