Food & Wine Pros
Move over sommeliers, hello wine concierges (and curators)!
The news that London’s latest impossibly glitzy Russian-owned wine shop Hedonism aims to offer a ‘personal, concierge-like approach‘ according to an interview its CEO Tatiana Fokina gave the wine magazine Decanter, doesn’t come as a total surprise. The C-word has been creeping into the wine world for a while.
When I was in Bordeaux back in June I met the head sommelier of the Grand Hotel Jean-Michel Thomas (right) who with his four colleagues offers a wine concierge service to the establishment's well heeled guests. Apart from one to one tastings his services include advising customers how to set up a cellar (and even a winery), how to invest in wine (“people don’t believe in banks any more”) and conducted visits to the top chateaux. Basically anything they want. (You can see a video about it here or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org)
At Hedonism which, as wine buyer Alastair Viner told the Drinks Business, offers a level of service where "nothing is too difficult” the 12-strong team includes Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, French and Italian speakers, who are all available to visit clients in their homes.
Entering 'wine concierges' into Google I find dozens of search results - most, of course, in the states who are always ahead of the pack when it comes to riding a trend: Fine Wine Concierge, The Wine Concierge who has been bright enough to take out a registered trademark and Custom Wine Concierge which offers tours of Northern Californian wine country by private jet, helicopter or limousine, are three examples.
Hand in hand with concierges goes today’s other current buzzword 'curation' - professionals who pick out wines of particular interest to their clients from the millions out there. In China one entrepreneur has set up his own social wine curation club where members swop tips and can keep track on the progress of wines in their cellar. Another company Empire State Cellars is ‘curating’ a luxury wine portfolio for export to Shanghai. (Oddly a search for 'curate' on Google UK still brings up a reference to the curate’s egg - very British!)
None of these services is new, of course - they just have a different name. Merchants have bought wine for wealthy clients and monitored their cellars for years. Industry professionals have always offered private wine classes on demand and holiday companies exclusive wine tours. But with the increasing number of super-rich who need their leisure as well organised for them as their business lives it looks like wine appreciation is being taken to another level. I suspect the C-words are here to stay.
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