Unusual Grapes Make Wine A Global Playground—And Your Store A Destination

 
 
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There’s a veritable wine-buying renaissance happening in the U.S. Though international grapes still dominate the shelves, interspersed are under-the-radar varieties and regions hailing from Croatia to Uruguay and everywhere in between. At the same time, consumers are becoming more adventurous with their wine drinking, looking to merchants for guidance in their thirst for discovery.

While the allure of European wine often centers on imagery of vineyards and estates, such as seen here at Livio Felluga in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the ascent of New World wines ushered in the Era of the Grape. In short, Americans (still) commonly think about wines by grape first. So when selling wines of unusual origin or pedigree, it makes sense to key on grapes first, then place, technique or special aspect.

While the allure of European wine often centers on imagery of vineyards and estates, such as seen here at Livio Felluga in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the ascent of New World wines ushered in the Era of the Grape. In short, Americans (still) commonly think about wines by grape first. So when selling wines of unusual origin or pedigree, it makes sense to key on grapes first, then place, technique or special aspect.

This plethora of well-made wine from unusual grape varieties and regions is particularly advantageous for small, independent retailers looking for ways to stand out from the average superstore. Creative selections give guests a reason to return. “We carry a lot of unusual grapes,” says Jed Boyar, the buyer at Dandelion Wine Shop in Brooklyn, NY. Not only can these wines draw in customers, but the more personal, hands-on sales approach—one that the big stores just can’t offer—is the key to moving these unfamiliar items as well as developing a rapport with the customer. “The only way you can turn someone on to something new is to communicate with them,” Boyar adds. “When you do help them discover a new region or a new grape, now you’ve really added to that relationship with that person.” Because they lack the recognition of international varieties, these under-the-radar wines are typically less expensive as well, giving the consumer better value for their money.

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KEN SCHWARTZ