ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I'm on several mailing lists from wine shops I purchase from, but somehow I always seem to miss out. I get an e-mail talking about this superb wine, I have to have it, so I log in to buy it, but of course it's all sold out, so I go to a few other stores ... gone. It's too aggravating. My question is, do people get e-mails like this and buy a case because they can afford it? Is there any etiquette around this topic? If the wine is "limited," shouldn't people limit themselves to a few bottles?

—Tim, Lacey, Wash.

Dear Tim,

That's a tough one. Retailers sometimes get their hands on a limited amount of a low-supply, high-demand wine. Instead of putting the wine on the shelf, many retailers like to reward their best customers with an opportunity to purchase it first. Customers don't limit themselves to how much they can purchase; it's up to the retailer to decide if a wine should be allocated. Sadly, there is little "etiquette" when it comes to our free market system and things like supply and demand.

The best advice I can give you is to develop a good rapport with the wine shop. Be specific about what kind of wines and which producers you're hunting down. See if next time they'll set some aside for you. The stronger relationship you have with your wine shop, the more likely they'll cater to your desires.

If that doesn't help, and you begin to suspect that the wine shop is using these e-mails as a "bait and switch" or that they simply don't care about your aggravation, it's time to find another wine shop.

—Dr. Vinny


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