Notes From All Over

Bread (and Beer and Vodka) of Life

More and more often, we are seeing customers requesting gluten-free options. Some are gluten-sensitive, others have full-blown celiac disease, and yet others have merely chosen a gluten-free lifestyle. Whatever the reason for the change, it requires some different choices when it comes to beverage shopping.

Other than wine (an obvious choice...grapes don't contain any wheat proteins) we did not initially have that many choices for the gluten-free customer. But we're listening! And we've found some great alternative beverages AND some useful info.

What's The Point of a Discount?

One of the suppliers we see at Pour Richard's (They'll be nameless-you'll see why) has the most peculiar pricing policy. There's the 'frontline', which almost nobody pays. Then there are assorted 'discounts', depending on the quantity purchased, but if you ask, sometimes you can get that price on less quantity. There are free goods deals: 1 free case on a 5 case purchase, etc. Lastly, there is the end-of-fiscal price: crazy stuff like 6 free bottles on 6 purchased bottles.

Wine Cellars (What's The Point?)

Maybe your house has a palatial wine cellar, with high-end racks and a state of
the art temp and humidity control system? Or maybe it doesn't, and your setup looks
more like mine: some racks in a cool corner of the basement. Whatever. Even if it
looks like the 'closet cellar' pictured above, it's still a cellar. And a cellar
Why? Why NOT? For the convenience of not having to run out to the store every time
you're having guests. To know, when you're stuck in traffic, that you can go straight

Does A Bear Drink Vodka in the Woods?
bear drinking

Why do you drink what you drink? Well, there's always quality, which we try to keep first and foremost. But we also have a firm belief in the 'story' behind a product. So we carry Hook & Ladder wines because we love the idea of Cecil DeLoach still crafting excellent Russian River Valley creations (even if someone else owns his name). And we love Tito's Vodka because it's an American-made-in Texas!-small-batch spirit. And we love the weird and nearly undecipherable stories behind the names of our Maine Beer Co brews.

What's in a Name? (And does it still taste good if you've never heard of it?)
Bunches of Grapes

We sell some fairly unusual wines. Among our current favorites are a red blend from Portugal, a nice fizzy Lambrusco, Italian Pecorino and Vermentino, crisp Ugni Blanc from France, and a delicious Chenin Blanc blend from South Africa. I'd give pretty good odds that most wine drinkers aren't familiar with all of those. And yet.....our customers buy these wines-and other 'unknowns'- a LOT. Why?

Friendly Values
General Store Grocer

I grew up in and around a small town (very small, ~400 people). It didn't have a supermarket, per se, just a little store called the Super Value. Run by a local family, the Super Value had an old-fashioned butcher and a decent selection of groceries, all at pretty good prices. What made the store special-at least in my memories-was the friendly helpful attitude of everyone there. They knew your name, knew what you wanted, and generally treated all the customers as though they were genuinely glad you were there. In retrospect, I think they should have called the store Friendly Value.

When Did Local Become 'Fancy'?
Bub's Beer Bottle

We sincerely hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th. On this most American of holidays, we hope you were surrounded by family, good friends, good food, and maybe some good beer and wine, too? I noticed that our craft beer sales were through the roof this week, so I suspect a lot of us were tipping a glass of something cool, crisp, and emphatically American. I also had a couple of customers who walked into the store, looked around, and said, more or less, "Oh. You only have fancy beer." Huh? We have a lot of local and regional beer. A few imports.

A Big Mac on Every Plate?
Big Mac

We sell a LOT of organic and/or sustainably-produced wines. Increasingly, our customers really care about how and where their beverages are produced. Many extend this concern to their food supply. Does this sound like you? If so, you might want to check out an article in July's Atlantic: How Junk Food Can Help End Obesity. Sound a little too good to be true? Well....David Freedman, over the course of several pages, proceeds to demonize the 'wholesome', i.e. unprocessed, food movement.

Would you Buy Wine in a Plastic Bottle?

At Pour Richard's, we are heartily in favor of alternative packaging, especially if it's eco-friendly, cost-effective, or both. We currently sell 2-carefully vetted-box wines, and another in Tetrapack. But what about wine packaged like Coca Cola, in PET plastic bottles?
There was an interesting segment on NPR this week about Backsberg Estate Cellars, South Africa's first carbon-neutral winery.

Marketing vs Quality

Ever have a Frostie? Bubble Up? Big Red? Probably not. Most supermarkets stock Coke, Pepsi, and other Coke and Pepsi products, so consumers don't even know they have other options.

And yet, not that long ago, there were hundreds of local and regional soda companies. Made in small batches with ingredients you could pronounce, these sodas sold because they were tasty.

Imagine. No focus groups. No major marketing campaign. No unpronounceable list of ingredients. Just soda that tastes good enough to drink.