People choose to buy a bottle of wine for one of six reasons. Do you know which reason is most important to the people at your tastings? This article is going to show you how to figure that out. Understanding how an individual taster makes their buying decision will supercharge your business and increase your revenue per person. It’s powerful information, so read on.

A wine consultant’s job is to use their expert knowledge to help someone select a bottle. But, it’s about more than asking if the taster likes the wine. There’s more nuance than simply telling a taster the stats about that vintage. Good wine consultants have a lot in common with great teachers. Let me explain.

Meet the Tasters Where They Are

I took calculus three times. I took it twice with the same teacher. Both times I received a ‘D’. Just by chance, on my third attempt, I had a different teacher. With that teacher, I got an “A”.

I remember the aha moment in that third attempt. It was fairly early on in the class too. My second teacher said one sentence that my first teacher never uttered. And, it was after that one sentence that everything fell into place. That’s the power of great teaching. If the first teacher had said that one sentence during my first attempt at calculus, I think I would have gotten an ‘A’ the first time.

Many teachers present the material the way my first calculus teacher did. They teach in the way it makes sense to them. Or they teach in a way that doesn’t acknowledge the newbie status of the learner. They simply recite the material and you will either sink or swim. That way of teaching offers no real value over what someone could get from a book. That’s not great teaching if it’s teaching at all.

On the other hand, great teachers do what my second teacher did. They teach in the way the students need to hear the material. And, great wine consultants tell tasters about the wine in the way that the taster needs to hear about the wine.

Top tier wine consultants talk about wine in language that makes people want to learn more, drink more and buy more. That language will be different for each person. But there are ways you can get clues that will help unlock the world of wine for each individual taster in the same way that my second teacher unlocked the world of calculus for me.

Avoid Confusing Wine Terms

For most wine tasters, complex or confusing terms are out. I went through a list of wine terms while researching for this article. There were hundreds of them. My suggestion is to use these glossaries as a way to understand what not to say.

Let’s take the word structure as an example. To people in the wine biz, it means the balance between acidity, sweetness, tannin, and acid. But, what does structure mean for a sweet Port versus a dry Riesling? The “balance” is totally different for each of these wines, although they could be outstanding in their own ways. That “good structure” means different things for different wines could be confusing to a wine novice. It could even be confusing to an enthusiast.

Instead, use simple descriptors to help build a structure profile you can use to select a wine. Sour means acid. Bitter might mean tannin. And sweet and fruity are obvious.

Using fancy words that don’t make sense to your audience is not good consulting. In fact, if you are using confusing language, you are not consulting at all. But giving expert advice in plain, clear and simple language is part of top tier consulting.

The Buyer Types

If you’ve read other articles on this blog, you’ve likely read about the Genome 6 wine buyer segmentation. We think it’s great! It can give you direction about what a specific buyer needs to hear.

There are six categories in this segmentation. We will only cover the ones you’re most likely to encounter as a wine consultant. But, we’ll also cover the buyer type that might be a feather in your cap: the overwhelmed wine drinker.

The Enthusiast

Let’s start with the enthusiast. This person is already a wine explorer. They have likely tried a number of wines. What they are looking for is new things, wines they haven’t tried before. You don’t have to show them a new varietal necessarily. It can be a unique blend, a unique year, a unique winemaking process.

You don’t have to pour ‘out of the box’ wines to get this buyer interested. You just have to put a unique spin on what’s in the bottle.

Finding out what’s unique about your wines may take a bit of research. Our suggestion is to start by learning about the vineyard management or the winemaking techniques used. You want to find an angle that makes the wine feel special, unique, even handcrafted. People will pay more for items that seem artisanal, where they get a sense of the people behind the product.

The average price per bottle this wine buyer spends is $13. Consider this the floor of your sales price. Since you’re showing them a special wine, a higher price is warranted. Where else can they try what you have? And, they will be happy to spend this money with you. Each time they taste that bottle, they are experiencing the unique quality in that wine. You exposed them to this new world, and they will appreciate you for it.

The Image Seeker

Let’s consider the image seeker next. This buyer wants to impress their friends by being the first to know about a wine trend. They want to take the amazing bottle you sell to them to a party and use it as small talk. In short, they want their wine purchases to impress others. This buyer type is usually less educated about wine, so the research will be easier than for the more educated enthusiast. 

The key to attracting this buyer is to think in superlatives. In what aspects is this wine the best? Were the best grapes used? Did it win the highest award? Is someone involved in making the wine the best at something? Is the wine from a very prestigious location? Is it the most expensive in your lineup? Is it rare? Is it a reserve or estate wine? I think you get the idea here. You need the wine to seem impressive to get this buyer interested.  

Trends also interest this buyer. In the same way you thought about how and where this wine is the best, think about how it represents something new or trendy. Give the buyer that story they can tell about how they are on top of the trends, and you’ll have sold that bottle.

This buyer spends $12 per bottle, on average. But you’re selling them more than a bottle. This wine comes with a story for use at their next dinner party. The work and research you do to build that story is the reason they’ll pay a premium for your wine. It’s also the reason they’ll buy from you over and over again.

The Newly Engaged

Newly engaged wine drinkers will appreciate your sharing your wine knowledge with them. Just like wine enthusiasts, they are wine explorers. They just don’t have much experience tasting yet.

You may not need to do additional research for this buyer. Your foundational wine knowledge might suffice. But the goal for this drinker is to help them understand how the wine they’re tasting fits into the world of wine. How should they think about it? Why was this style made? What did the grape growing and winemaking process look like? These are all pieces of information you likely have on hand. Sharing this kind of basic wine knowledge will help you build loyalty with this buyer type.

In terms of getting them to buy, show them how a wine they haven’t tasted represents the next step in their wine journey. You may want to save a wine as an added freebie for this purpose. Surprise them by having them taste a wine they weren’t expecting. Perhaps it’s a wine that hasn’t been released yet. Or maybe you can interest them in a reserve wine if it will broaden their palate and experience.

Newcomers also spend about $13 per bottle on average. But, this isn’t an average wine you’re selling them. You’re selling them knowledge in a bottle. That’s why they will be willing to pay the premium.

The Overwhelmed

What if you encounter an overwhelmed taster? They may be a hard sale to get. But, since wine overwhelm is a real problem for them, you will develop a very loyal customer if you can solve this problem for them.

Overwhelm is when people feel that something is impossible, or at least too hard. In this case, they feel it is too hard to select a wine. Or, perhaps they are afraid of selecting the wrong wine. Be their guide to the right wine.

Keep your explanations and information to a minimum with this buyer. Since they are already overwhelmed, the last thing they need is more information. Instead, after assessing their palate and budget, select the wine you think best. Keep it simple.

These buyers only spend $9 on average per bottle. But because you’re so helpful, they are likely to spend that $9 with you over and over. You are a problem-solver for them, and this builds loyalty.

This may not be the most lucrative group to sell to. But it’s likely that you can expect a premium over their everyday bottle price too. See a sale to a person in this group as a very big feather in your cap.

We won’t cover the last two groups in this article: price-driven and brand loyal. It’s unlikely that folks in these groups are regular wine tasters.

Determining a Taster’s Wine Buying Style

How do you discover a person’s buying style? You simply ask. If the tasting is going well, and they seem amenable to the wine you might ask, “What would you do with this wine?” Then, match their response to one of the buying segments we discussed. Make sure your question is open-ended. You don’t want a yes/no response here.

If they are silent, feel free to prompt them. Say something like, “I had a friend that would always buy trendy wines like this one. Have you ever done that?” That will at least get a response that you can use to find which segment fits them most closely.

Wine consultants need three kinds of knowledge. First, they need foundational wine knowledge. They need to understand the world of wine. Second, they need to understand what’s in the bottle they’re selling. How was it made and what’s special about it? Third, they need to understand the wine drinkers that taste with them.

Understanding the people that taste with you is the hard part. They are probably a stranger that you know nothing about yet. However, there are tools you can use that will give you enough clues to understand their buying style. At VineTutor, our job is to develop tools that help you do just that.

Check out our Buyer Match tool which matches specific bottles to the segments we described above. There are over 4,000 bottles included in this tool. One of these bottles will surely meet the needs of your tasters.

You may not sell these specific bottles. But you can use this extensive list to help you understand the kinds of bottles to suggest to specific kinds of buyers. That kind of understanding will make an inestimable difference in the scale and quality of your wine consulting.

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