The most powerful wine buyer in the world, Costco's lead wine buyer Annette Alvarez-Peters doesn't understand why wine is any different than toilet paper. This weekend CNBC ran a special called "The Costco Craze: Inside The Warehouse Giant," which featured Alvarez-Peters in what might as well have been a six-minute segment on wine ignorance. Here's a preview:
Alvarez-Peters: "Is it more special than clothing, is it more special than televisions? I don't think so."
CNBC's Carl Quintanilla: "Certainly it's different than toilet paper? Or different that tin foil?"
Quintanilla: "Because it's personal."
Alvarez-Peters: "People can look at it that way. But at the end of the day, it's a beverage."
That's who is charge of over one billion dollars in wine sales per year, selling "more wine than almost any retailer in the world." She is also in charge of setting prices on wines that affect most of the country's small wine retailers, as well as heading a team of seventeen international and domestic buyers. But what's the big deal? Wine is, like, the same as selling a bunch of TVs.
Eater SF says the saddest part about all of this is that Costco's former buyer, David Andrew, was a real wine lover. He left in 2003. In an America with more wine professionals than ever before, Costco didn't see a reason to replace him with a wine buyer and wine educator that actually knew anything about wine. In fact, before Alvarez-Peters landed the job, she worked as a buyer in Costco's auto parts division. But what's the difference, right?
To the video:
Two readers comment on this post:
I applaud this decision by Costco.
I also think that Alvare-Peters is a lot more savvy than she is being given credit for.
In an era where wine has been commoditized and "democratized" (the consequence of which is its availability at Walmart, Target and Costco) it is right to consider it as a consumer good and not some magic potion wrapped in bullshit spin and story.
I hope this is the first step towards a time when rational appraisal of wine quality replaces the current asinine approach.
It's a consumer good and it should be measured based on the same level as toilet paper (does it break up and get my finger dirty when I use it?) or disc brakes (do they last as long and squeal as little as the ones that came with the car?)
But maybe we're all getting our feathers ruffled for nothing, because it may just be that the "common man" (who likely shops at Costco) drinks a different kind of wine (and for different reasons) than us bourgeois.... [http://www.leaderpost.com/life/Wine+common/6539149/story.html]
Another reader has a different take:
It is not uncommon these days for major wine buyers to seemingly have never had a glass before. Many wine buyers from major grocery chains were once buyers for say, home supplies. With these same stores hiring wine professionals at the retail level, it becomes a frustrating experience for those viewing wine as more than a commodity.