One of the many pleasures of my job as a wine sales rep is the one-on-one interaction with my customers, or customers-to-be. I enjoy getting to know the buyers at wine stores, restaurants, and bars - sometimes they are tough nuts to crack, other times we'll get on great on our first meeting. Some customers I'll just sit down with for long tastings and talk wine; one customer recently, a chef and restaurateur in Brooklyn, sat me down at the bar and sent out food and wine, and came out and told me stories of his life as a chef, and how he'd gotten 4 stars in the New York Times as a young man; I've sat in the kitchen of another restaurant, a small restaurant in Brooklyn, as the owner did the prep for the evening's service; I've even been asked to develop a full wine program for one bar, where I also bartend a couple of nights a week as the program is launched!
Today something really cool happened at a tasting. I was at a wine store in Brooklyn, a beautiful, large, wine boutique, tasting through six wines from my portfolio with the owner, an Italian man. I was quite pleased with his reaction to most of the wines, he was taking his time tasting them, and he was making lots of notes on the tasting sheet. I poured him a glass of the last wine in the tasting, an organic, unfiltered wine called Penta, from Pago del Vicario in Castilla in Spain. He looked at the wine, and then started to smell it. He spent a long time with his nose in the glass before he took a sip. He didn't say anything, just kept going back to the wine. Eventually he told me that it reminded him of the cherries that his grandfather grew in Sardinia. He was vividly remembering one time when he climbed up a cherry tree and sat there for hours, picking the fruit and eating it, still warm from the sun! He ate so many cherries that day that he couldn't eat anything for two days. I was thrilled that he had such a powerful memory evoked by the glass of wine that I poured him. Sure, I want to sell him some wine, and I hope he'll become a good customer, but sometimes these intangible things make the job worth it beyond a paycheck.
(photo by =Lau÷l÷ on Flickr)