A few of weekends ago I spent a sunny Saturday with two of my girlfriends on an ‘adventure’ not too far from home. We like to pick a location somewhat nearby where we live and spend the day or weekend being tourists in our own neck of the woods. While we’ve explored parts of Portland and Vancouver, B.C. before, this time we stayed fairly close to home, travelling to Anacortes and up Chuckanut Drive to Bellingham.
Our stop in between those cities was a lovely small town (just two bends in the road) named Edison where we ate lunch at the Edison Tavern – great bar food! – and wandered through a gallery and a small gourmet food shop, Slough Food. Slough Food (pronounced “slow”) is the kind of place at which I love to purchase wine. Their selection is small, but based on the other items available in the store – specialty foodie items, meats and cheeses produced both locally and from abroad – you know it’s the kind of place where each wine is tasted and approved before it’s placed on the shelves. See their philosophy here.
The other thing I really liked about Slough Food’s wine selection was their variety of price points. The wine I purchased, the Masciarelli 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, sold for $9.99, but there were plenty of bottles in the $20 range and on up.
The wine shop closest to my house doesn’t carry any wine under $20. The owner told me that he can’t turn a profit on bottles priced lower than that and he doesn’t want to waste his shelf space on wines that don’t turn a profit. As the wife of a retail business owner, I understand that profit margins mean everything, but I can’t help feeling like my town’s only wine shop is missing an entire category of shoppers, me included.
I much prefer the Loss-Leader sales philosophy: get people in the door with an item that may not bring in a large profit, but hook them as a regular customer with your customer service and knowledge of your products. Of the 100 or so places that wine shop owner has for wine bottles, 4 spots could be dedicated to rotating wines at the $10-15 price point. If I knew I could always find a boutique and interesting wine around that price at that wine shop, and I could talk to the owner about the wine’s tasting properties and why that wine is special and unique enough to have a coveted space his shelves, I would frequent that store regularly. And, because of the relationship I would build with that wine shop, I would become a regular customer and purchase my more expensive wines there too whenever I needed a hostess gift, birthday present, or wine for entertaining. But that’s not the case. I purchase my special, higher-priced wines from the grocery store because I don’t have that relationship with that wine shop and there isn’t another in our town.
So obviously I was excited to see the wine selection at Slough Food. When I asked about the Montepulciano, they told me that the wine was “solid” and that the winery, Masciarelli, has a history (albeit short history – the winery was founded in 1981) of producing reputable wines. Sold!
Every Montepulciano I’ve ever tasted – which has been far too few – I’ve loved. Interestingly enough, I don’t see Montepulcianos on many restaurant wine lists. But when I do, I pounce. The same for seeing them in wine shops. So I had to purchase this wine from Slough Food, and I was happy I did. I liked this Montepulciano as much as the others I have tried.
This being a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC tells me that the wine is made from the Montepulciano red wine grape grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy; the DOC meaning Denominazione di origine controllata or controlled designation of origin, an assignment given for quality assurance.
It’a a medium-bodied, ruby red wine with tastes of berries and spice (my favorite!) and just enough tannins on the finish. It’s really drinkable and well worth $10 if you can find it.