Wine consumption in Colombia has increased by almost 30% in the last year and that’s partly why so many high-end wine stores keep popping up around Bogotá. The Wine Store is a prime example. But I wonder…who is their toughest competition: large chain supermarkets like Carrefour and Exito or the uneducated wine consumer. The former have done a great deal to make wine accessible to the average consumer – but the world of wine is so much more than cheap wine. And life’s too short to drink really cheap wine.
So, The Wine Store has chosen to take on uneducated consumers and is doing its share to create a thriving market by offering wine tastings for only $10,000 (about $5 USD). They used to offer tastings for a lot more but realized that they can attract a larger and more diverse audience by lowering the price. It seems like a foolproof marketing strategy to me and it must be working because business is good and the tastings are nearly always fully booked.
To begin with, the store’s set-up is really appealing with wines separated by geographical location, nice lighting, a small delicatessen and a handpicked collection of cookbooks for sale. There is also a comfortable lounge where you can have a drink and share a plate of cheeses and cured meats. The most important part, though, is the friendly unpretentious staff who like to talk about booze…I mean, fine wine and liquor.
I had never had time to attend a tasting (wine, beer or liquor), or I’d call to reserve a spot and there’d be no spaces left. Well, I finally made it to a sherry tasting and realized what I’d been missing.
Once everyone started to arrive, we were shown to a special room upstairs where 3 tasting glasses and sliced baguettes were waiting for us. Among our fellow tasters were a group of young single women, middle-aged couples, and groups of friends and co-workers all roughly between the ages of 25 and 50, and ready to taste some fortified wines from Spain.
For this tasting, we had a wine representative and critic who also happens to be a Sherry Ambassador (aka a full-blown Sherry encyclopedia trained in Jerez, Spain). We learned all kinds of fun facts about this fortified wine and three of its main styles (manzanilla, fino and oloroso). Then we tasted and analyzed each one, and all for $10,000. The Wine Store is offering an incredible service here and, at the end of the day, it’s a win-win situation because what they’re really doing is cultivating educated long-term consumers.
It must not be an easy job to try and train the palate of Colombia’s avid beer and aguardiente drinkers, but I can’t think of a better way of doing it than this. Not only is it educational but also a really nice way to spend an evening, sharing a few drinks with friends and broadening ones oenophilic tendencies in the process.
Of course, prices are a bit higher than in the huge chain stores but that’s a sacrifice that wine lovers make, at least once in a while. On the bright side, you can use your $10,000 entry fee towards a bottle of one of the wines tasted.
Calle 81 # 10-50, Bogotá
(57 1) 610 4240