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Among my "favourite" wine merchants, there is one who always manages to attract my attention. I don't know him personally, I've never been to his shop, I only receive advertising mail from him two or three times a year. The opposite of sophisticated graphics on glossy brochures flutters towards me. They are ordinary A-4 sheets - mostly greyish environmental paper - with a confusing amount of information, poorly scanned pictures and thick arrows.

Advertising mailer from a wine merchant for the rather lower price segment

Usually, such mail goes unread into the wastepaper basket. But not this advertisement, because it is always good for a surprise. Years ago, for example, I discovered a Bordeaux, a so-called everyday wine in the price segment around 10 euros, which has been stored in my cellar ever since, from where I often fetch it, like to display it on larger occasions, occasionally include it in my tastings and also like to recommend it: Parenchère, from Ligueux, in the far east of the Bordelais. I admit, at the time it wasn't the quality of the wine that impressed me (I didn't know the wine at all), but the "good story" that the wine merchant knew how to tell. Namely, how he met the owner of Parenchère at the huge "Vinexpo" in Bordeaux and how a friendship could develop from that. A touching story. Then I simply ordered 12 bottles once and - which is a rarity with spontaneous purchases - and received a very good, then still largely unknown wine. Since then, I have been looking at the mail from this wine merchant.

Château de Parenchère - an excellent Bordeaux for everyday life
I admit, I have never bought anything from him other than this wine Negligence? The wrong offer? Too much competition? The lack of well-known names? Maybe a bit of everything. I guess I also lack the courage to gain further experience in the low-priced wine segment. I have been disappointed too often so far, and I have not believed in "insider tips" for a long time anyway. Either they don't keep their promises, or - poof - they are no longer insider tips (with correspondingly adjusted prices). This is especially true for wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy. So I leave it at the mere thought "you could try it once". Do I miss out on much? I don't know!

But now the wine merchant has caught me again with a story about a particularly good value "Prosecco". It says, among other things: "Sorry, but we have to admit in all honesty that our last offer for a fine Prosecco from Italy was rather a failure!" What retailer would admit that their product is not getting any attention? But it gets even more unusual:... "so we called about 20 good Chlöpfmost customers (Chlöpfmost = disrespectful Swiss-German term for sparkling wines. pz) and asked why our Prosecco offer fell on deaf ears. The answer almost blew us away: Too cheap!!!??"

Advertisement for an ordinary Prosecco from the Veneto region

No, I will not be accused of this: too cheap! So I grabbed it, bought it. Now there are 12 bottles in the cellar of a wine I didn't really want. And? Was it worth it? Well, the wine is not better (but also not worse) than many Prosecco in this price range: light, fruity and - thank God - not too carbonated.

Why am I telling you all this? Quite simply because it is typical how I - the hardened Bordeaux lover and wine collector - am persuaded to buy a product that is unknown to me. There are probably two things that are decisive: 1. trust. I had a good experience once. So I secretly hope it will be repeated. 2. the wine is not just advertised. It is linked to a "story", in this case the story of failure. And the interest is already aroused. Actually, this would be a warning to keep your hands off it. But no, the opposite has happened. The bottles are there, bought!

A cheap or even "cheap" Prosecco% like there are many others

Do others react differently? Am I so atypical? I don't think so. Trust is a precious commodity, especially in the not particularly squeamish wine market. Price comparison is one thing: important from a competitive ideological point of view, but by no means the only decisive factor. Just as important - it seems to me - is trust based on one's own experience. Bad experiences are quickly made in the fight for the cheapest and best product. They propagate themselves incredibly quickly and consistently and can no longer be made good with any price reduction. And the second is history. It seems to me to be even more important. We react to stories much more strongly than we admit. We find ourselves in stories, we define ourselves through stories. We communicate in the form of stories. Why should this be any different when buying wine?

When I wanted to open the first bottle of Prosecco, I noticed a rather unconventional bottle closure. Instead of the usual wire and tin foil or plastic cap, a loosely tied string around the bottle neck and cork. Never seen before.

Cord closure of the Prosecco

I look for an explanation, I ponder the genesis of the product, I try to imagine the circumstances of the bottling, I have the impression of manual labour, I.... In short, I make up stories. They may be true or false, but they become increasingly linked to the new wine in my cellar. And lo and behold. It is suddenly no longer one of many, nor - as in this case - exotic. No, it embodies a story for me. Which I could tell now. But then again, this is "another story".

Yours sincerely, Peter


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