Bogotá Wine Culture and educating the Colombian consumer

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. 

Tasting glasses set up for Fino, Manzanilla and Oloroso sherry

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.

Sherry tasting with wine critic and author Jose Rafael Arango

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.

Get a heads up on The Wine Store’s tasting schedule by signing up for their newsletter here. You can also follow The Wine Store on Facebook and Twitter.

The Wine Store

Calle 81 # 10-50, Bogotá

(57 1) 610 4240

A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine. - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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9 Responses to Bogotá Wine Culture and educating the Colombian consumer

  1. Paul says:

    Another great post. I´ll have to keep this in mind for a birthday present in the future!

    Paul
    http://www.seecolombia.travel/blog

  2. Alex Owen says:

    What I’ve found with our beer, Sierra del Tigre, is that although Colombians until now have not been exposed to good ale, most instantly recognise the difference between ours and others that they might have tried. That is to say that one doesn’t necesarily need a developed palate to be able to appreciate fine offerings. I’m at the moment expanding our range of wines in the pub hoping to be able to do my bit for the current ‘wine revolution’, if we might put it in such strong terms…

    You should swing by Britannia at some point and do a beer tasting – it’s free :-D

    • When you say “our beer”…does that mean it’s brewed at Britannia? I definitely need to go for the fish and chips and beer! I totally agree that you don’t necessarily need a developed palate to appreciate fine offerings, but it helps to have the opportunity to taste a variety of beer or wine to decide for onself what is good and what’s not so good. Then you kind of start to decide for yourself what you like in a beer or wine and what you want to avoid. I used to take wine tasting classes in Miami and the guy that taught it would always sneak in a really awful wine and just wait for us to say what we didn’t like about it…until finally he’d admit it was like a $5 bottle jajaja…it’s a good way to learn ;)

  3. yesid peerz says:

    hola me encanto el sito es fantástico ya tuve la oportunidad de ir, quizá quieran conocer otro sitio similar o tal vez mejor, se llama VITTIS queda en la Cr. 11 # 84 – 40 Int. 5 muy cerca, hacen bastantes eventos como catas y cursos, espero se puedan acercar y conocerlo.
    saludos.

    • Hola Yesid! Gracias por el comentario. Que bueno que existan mas y mas lugares como The Wine Store para poder educar al consumidor colombiano y disfrutar de mas vinos. Voy a ir a conocer a VITTIS. Mil gracias por el dato.
      Cheers!
      Diana

      • Carlos Triana says:

        Estupendo! ya se que cuando vengo a Colombia, tengo un sitio mas para ir a catar y comprar vinos. Muchas gracias por el dato de vittis. Precisamente buscando por internet un sitio para catar y comprar buenos vinos me entere de este. Muchas gracias,
        Carlos T, cheers too!

    • F Reinoso says:

      La idea del Wine Store es buena pero es un pesar el servicio tan malo, mediocre y descortés de los que atienden. De acuerdo con Yesid: Vittis es inmensamente superior en atención, decoración y selección. Tienen mucho que aprender los de Wine Store sobre cuidar al cliente.

  4. Pingback: Bogotá Wine Culture and educating the Colombian consumer – Bogota Eats and Drinks | The Wine Store

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