ThinkTank Blog

Bards and Bordeauxs

Posted by Cameron Brown on Mon, Nov 26, 2012
Once upon a time, long long ago, there were only six-packs and kegs. Life was good, and choices were simple: bottles, cans or occasionally funnels. Not long afterward, the cocktail was introduced, ushering new tastes and interesting complexities to the tried-and-true beers of our youth. Back then, there was only moderate consideration given to brand loyalty, and certainly none to the story behind the brand.

I don’t remember when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I started to enjoy wine. It began predictably enough with the Beaujolais and Cabs of CA and admittedly was driven by a mystique for something new, and something that would take some work to get right. Like many people, I like to learn about the things that interest me, so I read, and sampled, and listened to those purportedly most educated in the back stories of the wine process. I have several local shop owners to thank for that knowledge, gleaned over hours of conversations on rainy Saturdays.

Recently, I’ve noticed that the pairing process, one of the Holy Grails of selecting the “right” wine for a meal, has also changed. It’s no longer about trying to recall the direction of sommeliers and columnists; it’s about what my friends and I feel like drinking. The people I see most often are typically talkers – storytellers - and I’m a complete sucker for authentic enthusiasm. I don’t much care what the topic is. When the holder of the conch has energy, I’m hooked. Whether their story includes a new fishing technique, better snow shovel, tequila, way of cooking ribs and yes, wine – draw me in by appealing to my sense of story and I’ll give it a shot.

Lettie Teague writes a solid column in the Wall Street Journal on Saturdays. In a recent piece she tips her hat to the growing reality of wine pairings today. While earlier in the article she treats us to the language that makes a wine columns fun to read: “the 2010 Julien Sunier Regnie, a cru Beaujolais was particularly good – substantial yet lithe,” she later goes on to recall a conversation she had with a wine director at a well reviewed NYC restaurant who focused on pairing wines with the diner, not the food. His conclusion: “More often than not, they cared less about choosing the right match with their food than choosing a wine that came with a good story attached.” And that is how we roll my friends. Time and again, in virtually any circumstance, pairing authenticity with a good back story is the secret to good customer service. Don’t outwit yourself – be real and good things will happen for you and your brand.

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