A couple of years back, the straight talking, Janet Street–Porter posed the question:
“is wine that costs less than £3.00 being consumed for its taste, or simply as a legal alternative to recreational drugs? …We don’t treat alcoholic drinks with any respect. They are simply a means to an end.”
For the vast majority, I suspect she is probably right. If we had catered to the ‘lowest common denominator’ from the outset, I might now be employing a manager/bouncer and be checking on progress from a villa in Antibes. However I love being part of the wine business, it’s totally beguiling, full of fascinating people; vignerons, suppliers, writers, van- drivers, all with a story to tell. And happily, the lovely people who have become regular customers, do not fall into the ‘highest %abv/lowest price category’, they/you (and I) are like-minded individuals, who do care about their food and drink, its provenance and what it tastes like.
So, after 6 (mostly) enjoyable years as a physical shop, championing interesting wines from small producers, we came to the conclusion that to be viable, would mean massively dumbing down (which was never going to be an option), or evolving into a different entity and not compromising our integrity – hence the ‘wine club’. The obvious advantage in not having shop premises would, to us, be an immediate – and huge reduction in overheads, hitherto made up primarily of rent, business rates and stock held. Those elusive commodities, time and money, could be freed up. I’d be more mobile, getting to tastings much more frequently and ok – doing more cycling.
More importantly, it looked like there were significant advantages to customers; Convenience. Queen Street is anything but convenient when it comes to parking and carrying wine. The wines chosen by us would reflect seasonality, be refreshingly different, the choices we make could be tweaked to cater for your own preferences, with the odd ‘curved ball’ thrown in to keep you on your toes. If bought ‘by the case’ the wines you like would be on hand, negating emergency trips to the corner shop, possibly with dire consequences.
I have always felt that on-line wine buying is a rather sterile, impersonal experience
– and often more about skilled marketing than any genuine interest or enthusiasm for wine. Where I believe we would differ, is by knowing many of you in the first instance and your tastes, we’d have a much more informed idea of what you like. I would in most cases deliver personally too, which should allow for better communication.
Furthermore, as a subscriber, you would receive invitations to regular Tasting events. The world of wine is gloriously social, so let’s make the most of it!