Independent wine shops still have a bit of a problem with women. It’s a fact that’s borne out by some recent Wine Intelligence research, which we report on the front page of the October edition.
Not all independents, of course. Especially not the ones run by women. But still too many. When Wine Intelligence questioned wine drinkers who don’t tend to buy from indies, 11% of women said they felt intimidated about venturing inside, compared to 6% of men.
Wine has a habit of being quite a blokey subject, especially at the more specialist end of the spectrum, and this can be reflected in the store environment. For some men, a dark, cavernous and untidy wine shop is retail nirvana. Some women enjoy these places too, but research has generally shown that they prefer shops with good lighting and room to move around freely. Sofas and coffee may well help too, but we’re already venturing close to gender stereotyping, so let’s not push the point any further.
The age-old problem with many casual wine drinkers – men and women – is that they sometimes feel unqualified to venture into a “proper” wine shop: they fear their lack of knowledge will be exposed, and humiliation will follow. The reality is, of course, that independents welcome such consumers with open arms. It’s their job to guide them towards wines they had perhaps never encountered before, within budget, and to gradually open up a world of new options.
Independents are, almost without exception, nice people. Helpful people. People people. The trouble is, not everyone recognises it.