Using Scores to Sell Wine: Hate It, But Here’s How To Do It
Well, how do you sell wine? For many of us, we’d love for folks to have a conversation with someone knowledgeable about what they’re buying. But, it’s the 21st century. I’m a realist. So that doesn’t happen, much, if ever. So wineries use scores to sell wine. Usually they don’t do a very good job of it though, luckily for those of us who really have an uneven relationship with scores themselves. Here’s an example, if you wanted to grab some easy sales, of what you might do-branding be damned perhaps.
Hi guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. So if you can see that little label there on the top it says 91 out of 100. That’s kind of what made this wine interesting to me. This is a French wine. It’s a combination of grenache and syrah. It was imported into Oakland. Quite honestly I don’t think many of the mechanisms here matter all that much, but I did think this little Robert Parker sticker that they flopped onto this was a good example of what happens when you have an international winery that has a very, very limited amount of space here on the label. How do you convince American wine consumers to drink your wine if you’re French but you’re not from one of the major regions that people are actually going to recognize. This sticker might be one of the reasons.
There’s a couple things that go on here. First, there’s a number of us that hate the fact that scores sell wine so much, but we also have to be realistic that we live in the 21st century. Most wine is sold on premise. It’s mostly consumed … Something like 98% of wine is consumed within 48 hours of its purchase. Almost all of it is sold without a face-to-face conversation between somebody who knows what’s in the bottle versus somebody who’s looking for something. Still, having a good local wine store and talking to people and getting some understanding about like, “Hey I really like that. Can you suggest something similar” is kind of in my opinion a good compliment to something like I do with my wine club where I’m trying to educate people about both individual bottles of wine that show up but also wine regions and styles and all that kind of stuff that goes into it. That’s why we write such lengthy Wine Club newsletters from scratch.
In any case, if you’re going to be realistic about it as a winery that people aren’t going to able to sell this for you, how do you sell it on the bottle? Unfortunately, one of the main … maybe the main reason or way that people buy wine is by points. A lot of our friends simply go down the wine aisle and they buy the first 90-point wine that they see for the cheapest, or a 98-point wine for 20 bucks or under kind of thing. That’s where this falls in, and I think it’s, if we’re being realistic about it, you need to sell wine to be able to stay in business, and so this is a French winery that in this case did this right. Although I don’t love the idea of flopping scores on every single bottle because I don’t think that’s necessarily the best way to do that, I do think it does give you some idea about what the quality in play is. There are at least a reasonable expectation of what’s in the bottle that’s going to be actually good and drinkable.
In any case, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I don’t love scores. We don’t post them for everything. I don’t think that all the scoring done is completely appropriate with how it’s done. I think spectator does the best job if you’re interested because it is blind and there is more than one person, but in any case, I think it’s something that consumers can learn a lot from. So once again, Mark Aselstine. Have a good one.
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