As part of The Buyer’s celebration of one year on the scene, co-founder and Drinks Editor, Peter Dean, indulges himself a little with a look back at lessons learned from one year in the drinks trade
How the drinks trade compares to other businesses, what we should all start doing, enough of the pens! And how you will never meet a nasty winemaker
Unlike my business partner and other half (of The Buyer) Richard Siddle, I have not been in the drinks trade for that long. I have been writing about wine for wine collectors for the past seven years, and organising wine visits on a personal basis for a lot longer but the last 12 months have been my first year completely immersed in the drinks business.
So here’s a few things I’ve learned.
1 Always carry chewing gum
Not in a Sideways way you understand. Gum for after tastings.
I always prided myself on never having to go to the dentist until this year when daily swills of young, acidic wine have taken their toll.
My mouth ached for two days after last year’s English sparkling wine tasting, almost as much as at the end of a 3-day jaunt tasting young Riesling.
The final wine that Dönnhoff poured me was an ice wine that should have sent me into shivers of pleasure, instead it was a paroxysm of pain – I was in my personal version of the dentist scene in Marathon Man.
2 I will never need to buy a pen again
It was a running gag on a press jaunt to Bordeaux for us scribes to be taking notes with pens branded with competing regions.
It’s my small-minded perverse humour perhaps to be at Pape Clement doing shorthand with a pen from Vins de Bourgogne, or Champagne while the lady from the CIVB growled at us.
Guys enough pens already. It’s very kind but we have enough pens!
3 I have seen the other side of London…and lived
Chris Wilson in his round up of the year’s tasting so far, made a good point about the need to branch out and embrace some different, more modern venues for tastings. Agreed. But blimey the venues there are and which the public will never see – an astonishing array of magnificent buildings housing the headquarters of associations, societies, private clubs, hotels. And then there were the lunches and winemaker dinners….
4 I have never met a nasty winemaker
It’s fitting that the wine trade begins and ends with a breed apart. Winemakers are the nicest people on the planet. They can be standing there talking about how the hail has just wiped off half the value of their harvest and they will still be opening a rare cuvée or shrugging it off with a philosophical quip handed down through the generations.
I guess working the outdoors, being creative, and producing a product that is an elixir of life all helps.
5 Blimey you lot are nice!
So, for the past 25 years I have been in the services business, running my own contract publishing business which then became a content marketing agency (Seven) as digital consigned papers and magazines to the past.
I have had 100s of clients across many different industries including fashion, banking, entertainment, insurance, FMCG, government but I can genuinely say that the wine business is made up of the nicest, most generous, fun-loving people of all of those industries.
You don’t make diddly-squat compared to people from those trades, mind.
As someone said to me a year ago at our launch “Welcome to the nickel and dime business.”
6 Everyone needs to get social
There’s the head of a leading PR company (you know who you are!) who, every time I mention social media says “I don’t do social media because I don’t like it.”
The thing with social is that everyone is talking about you and you need to be a part of the conversation. You can also dictate it.
Contrary to some of the opinions expressed by some people on The Buyer site over the past 12 months, social media is as cheap as chips and the best thing is that the person that can be running it for you on an operational level is probably on reception – digi-natives ‘get’ social and are twice as fast as you are at keeping it running.
As someone who sold social media strategies for a living, spend half an hour on Google and you’ll quickly find the basics.
7 There is still a way to go
If you look at the UX of wine, in a lot of cases it is as hard as it could possibly be. Walking into a shop or confronted with a list that is hundreds of items long is daunting, confusing and ultimately limiting for the average customer.
At The Buyer we are excited and inspired by innovative ways of getting over this hurdle whether that’s marketing to and educating the end consumer, or helping those in the trade to do their job more effectively.
So in one year I feel that we have a made a difference. In the coming years we look forward to working with you to have an even greater impact.
Who knows we might even start to earn nickels and quarters.