Why do you drink what you drink? Well, there's always quality, which we try to keep first and foremost. But we also have a firm belief in the 'story' behind a product. So we carry Hook & Ladder wines because we love the idea of Cecil DeLoach still crafting excellent Russian River Valley creations (even if someone else owns his name). And we love Tito's Vodka because it's an American-made-in Texas!-small-batch spirit. And we love the weird and nearly undecipherable stories behind the names of our Maine Beer Co brews.
Notes From All Over
We sell some fairly unusual wines. Among our current favorites are a red blend from Portugal, a nice fizzy Lambrusco, Italian Pecorino and Vermentino, crisp Ugni Blanc from France, and a delicious Chenin Blanc blend from South Africa. I'd give pretty good odds that most wine drinkers aren't familiar with all of those. And yet.....our customers buy these wines-and other 'unknowns'- a LOT. Why?
I grew up in and around a small town (very small, ~400 people). It didn't have a supermarket, per se, just a little store called the Super Value. Run by a local family, the Super Value had an old-fashioned butcher and a decent selection of groceries, all at pretty good prices. What made the store special-at least in my memories-was the friendly helpful attitude of everyone there. They knew your name, knew what you wanted, and generally treated all the customers as though they were genuinely glad you were there. In retrospect, I think they should have called the store Friendly Value.
We sincerely hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th. On this most American of holidays, we hope you were surrounded by family, good friends, good food, and maybe some good beer and wine, too? I noticed that our craft beer sales were through the roof this week, so I suspect a lot of us were tipping a glass of something cool, crisp, and emphatically American. I also had a couple of customers who walked into the store, looked around, and said, more or less, "Oh. You only have fancy beer." Huh? We have a lot of local and regional beer. A few imports.
We sell a LOT of organic and/or sustainably-produced wines. Increasingly, our customers really care about how and where their beverages are produced. Many extend this concern to their food supply. Does this sound like you? If so, you might want to check out an article in July's Atlantic: How Junk Food Can Help End Obesity. Sound a little too good to be true? Well....David Freedman, over the course of several pages, proceeds to demonize the 'wholesome', i.e. unprocessed, food movement.
At Pour Richard's, we are heartily in favor of alternative packaging, especially if it's eco-friendly, cost-effective, or both. We currently sell 2-carefully vetted-box wines, and another in Tetrapack. But what about wine packaged like Coca Cola, in PET plastic bottles?
There was an interesting segment on NPR this week about Backsberg Estate Cellars, South Africa's first carbon-neutral winery.
Ever have a Frostie? Bubble Up? Big Red? Probably not. Most supermarkets stock Coke, Pepsi, and other Coke and Pepsi products, so consumers don't even know they have other options.
And yet, not that long ago, there were hundreds of local and regional soda companies. Made in small batches with ingredients you could pronounce, these sodas sold because they were tasty.
Imagine. No focus groups. No major marketing campaign. No unpronounceable list of ingredients. Just soda that tastes good enough to drink.
You probably think that Prohibition ended with the signing of the 21st amendment in 1933? It's true that you no longer need to make gin in your bathtub, sure, but Massachusetts' Blue Laws, a hangover from either Prohibition or our Puritan ancestors -maybe both?-have us wondering just how 'free' we are to consume alcohol in this state. For example, you are definitely NOT free to try a sample of wine at a Whole Foods event.
The craft distilling scene has exploded in the last few years. It seems like every week we hear about another new gin, rum, whiskey. They're from Vermont. Texas. Virginia. And many right here at home: we sell Bully Boy from Southie, Wire Works Gin from West Roxbury, Privateer Rum from Ipswich. And too many more to list. They are great, authentic, and interesting spirits. They are at the heart of our 'Never Drink Ordinary' credo.
We love our rose-mostly dry, mostly French- but also sweet, bubbly, Italian, Spanish...We have fizzy rose from Chile, great rose Champagne, even a rose Port. And our customers, once they get over the notion that we are trying to serve them White Zinfandel(!), like and buy rose, too. But for much of the wine-drinking public, the image of rose remains: 1) Mateus, 2) Lancer's, and 3) White Zin.