Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wine Newsletters

I was reading Karen MacNeil's excellent book, "The Wine Bible" recently. This is a great book for people who want to learn about wine from A to Z, and it's especially good for beginning wine connoisseurs. In her section on how to pick the right wine shop she writes "In my experience the best wine shops are those with newsletters. By a newsletter, I don't mean a price list. I mean a real newsletter that describes wines well enough so that you have a pretty good idea of what they taste like. Reading a shop's newsletter is not only a painless way to make new wine discoveries, but just reading the thing will give you a sense of the personality of the shop and whether or not it has a style and an approach you like." This is valuable advice, and over the past months I've been visiting various wine stores to examine and assess their newsletters.

Surprisingly many, perhaps most, wines stores do not have newsletters at all. Or they use some generic newsletter that doesn't give any store-specific information. Other wine stores offer catalogue type things, rather than a newsletter. One, in particular, was huge (24 or more pages) and used at least 15 different fonts and a horrible color scheme of red and green. It was appalling to read -- busy and nauseating -- but the real kicker was that the store had neglected to put its address anywhere in the catalogue!!! We couldn't go there even if we wanted to!

As a freelance writer who has done numerous newsletters in the past, I take particularly great interest in this phenomena. Why don't stores invest in this sort of marketing? Why do they feel that it is something that they can give to their high school kid to do? Given a choice of a wine shop with an informative, engaging newsletter and one without, I'd go to the one with the newsletter because I would feel that I'm getting something extra. Why aren't ALL wine stores investing in professional help with this? [Of course, I have a vested interest - I'd like to be the professional help.] Own a wine store? Want a professional newsletter? Email me.


Blogger knowlengr said...

It's odd that there aren't more wine newsletters. There's plenty happening in the blogosphere. Early on, when burst on the scene, the lively text accompanying the descriptions was half the fun. But as with many small businesses, the creative and production aspects of newsletter creation may require a different sort of skill than what it takes to run a wine shop. I'm trying to recall how Trader Joe presents their wines in their circulars (No wine in NY TJ stores). It would be a pity if wine news had to be drunk from Big Retail jars.

10:53 PM  

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