Bet you didn’t see that coming!
Neither did I! If you look back at my articles (you can see many archived here www.colinharknessonwine.com click Articles, that’s if you haven’t got them posted on your bedroom walls, of course?) you’ll see that I’ve always put wine shops before supermarkets when talking about sourcing wine. If you can’t buy directly from the bodegas themselves, the next best thing will always be wine shops.
I still believe this. Wine shop owners (there don’t seem to be many chains here in Spain, I’ve actually never come across one) have a passion for wine – they care. Consequently, they look after their stock; rotate the wines properly; keep a handle on their buying so as not to be left with wines that are creeping past their best; keep abreast of developments in the wine world; attend tastings, certainly nationally, and at times internationally too; read the literature & watch the videos; organise tastings; teach their staff and encourage (sometimes with financial help) assistants to attend courses, take exams, and so on.
Supermarkets, in my view, don’t do much of the above. Most are too big. Wine is just one line, amongst countless others. Yes, some of the larger concerns will have a designated ‘wine buyer’, hopefully with sufficient wine knowledge and expertise, but will they have staff to whom they can diffuse this info? Is there any training of staff in the individual supermarkets – well, I don’t think there are many or much.
To a point I understand this – do the supermarkets train their staff to have greater knowledge about other lines, e.g. which are the best detergents and why; why is one pet food so much more expensive than the one on the shelf nearby; is it best to buy olive oil as young as possible or is it better to wait a year from production. They can’t be expected to employ an expert in every field.
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