Un-study Techniques: Wine (or Liquor) Store Archaeology

This is the ninth post in our series about “un-study techniques” for use in wine and spirits studies.  Un-study techniques are all about what to do when you need to study…but you just can’t stand the thought of it. Click here to view our other posts on un-study techniques.

The next time you find yourself wandering the aisles of your favorite wine or liquor store, use that time to do a bit of digging. With the right tools, a bit of liquor store archaeology can lead to a valuable educational find!

Here’s a plan:

  • Decide upon a type of wine or spirit that you want to uncover.
  • Visit a (preferably local) wine or liquor store with a good reputation for knowledgeable staff and selection. Talk to the staff members and see what they can tell you about the store selection and how the product makes its way to the shelves. Ask them for their advice on the products and see what you can learn from them. Caveats: be sure and demonstrate humility and gratitude; and please quit before you are tagged as a stalker or a nuisance.
  • Take note of the price range exhibited for the product you are interested in; and purchase a representative (or otherwise interesting) bottle.
  • Taste the wine/spirit and record your tasting notes.
  • Thoroughly read the information found on the label(s) and packaging. It’s particularly interesting to note the information regarding the producer (winery/distillery), place of origin, and importer.
  • Go online and find the producer and/or importer’s website. See what you can learn from the marketing materials that pop up (which will be hard to miss). However, what you really want to find is information on how the wine or spirit was produced. Wineries often post winemaker’s notes and/or technical sheets. Distilleries often provide a link to “how it’s made” and/or pictures of their tanks and stills. Often, the best place to look for this type of information is on a navigation button that reads “trade materials” or “for the trade.”
  • Your goal is to learn as much as you can about the specific product, and well as the product category, particularly regarding the rules and regulations concerning production.
  • Considering the available price range and the price point of the bottle you bought, what factors do you think contributed to the price of your bottle? Why were the others more or less expensive? What is a specific production technique, age (or lack of it), supply and demand, what the market will bear, creative marketing, quality, reputation—or none of the above?

Happy hunting!

Click here to view our other posts on how to study wine and spirits.

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

One Response to Un-study Techniques: Wine (or Liquor) Store Archaeology

  1. Pingback: Liquor Industry News 03-16-20 | Franklin Liquors

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