With the explosion of the Food Network and reality food shows, celebrity chefs and the organic food movement over the last fifteen years, the idea of “Buy Local” has worked its way into the popular psyche, at least in name. We as a nation have been doing our best to buy local, source better quality and to eat healthier. The benefits are self-evident. Of course there’s a large segment of the population that’s still perfectly content to eat fast food from the chains and that may never change. If you’ve bothered to read this far I doubt that you’re one of those people. Within the wine industry there’s been a parallel movement taking place; one that distinguishes artisanal or naturally produced wine from the commercial swill that fills so many of the big box stores, grocery stores and wine warehouses. Today, we have access to more producers and better wines than any time in history. So given the demand for better food by consumers why is there still a large disconnect (after all, wine is an agricultural product) between many of those consumers when it comes to shopping with and supporting their local wine merchant?
Here are some reasons I think you should:
Better quality – Independent wine retailer deal in smaller volume and tend to carry small artisanal producers who produce wine of a much higher quality that never make it into the chains due to their economy of scale. You might not see all the “brands” you’re accustomed to in one of the chains but what may be lacking in sheer volume will be made up in quality. What you will get is new wines from places you may never have heard of made by people dedicated to the land and to their craft, not to mention a variety of new taste experiences. This ties nicely into the next reason…
Better Service – Nine out of ten times if you can even find someone to help you in a big box store you’re lucky. Chances are if you do they’ve not that well informed about the wines they carry. In an independent wine shop you’ll find passionate people who care about the wines they represent. They’re usually knowledgeable and enthusiastic about wine and are willing to work with you to find wines that suit your individual tastes and palates and tell you a great story about the wine itself. It’s a place you can build a relationship with over time and rest assured that they will be steering you in the right direction, whether it’s an inexpensive weeknight wine for dinner or a special occasion or gift.
Better Experience and Education – In addition to carrying better quality wine and knowledgeable staff most independent wine retailer hold regular tasting events and host wine dinners with winery staff or wine makers. They’re a great way to expand your knowledge of wine and to meet like-minded wine lovers.
And don’t forget, by supporting local wine retailer you’re also helping to support the local community where their dollars are back into the local economy through purchasing or by supporting charitable causes and events. This helps to build strong healthy, diverse neighborhoods and communities.