The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Eleventh Hour Lovelies

our holiday sale brims with win

We usually steer clear of outright marketing on our blog, Inside IWM, but today we can’t forbear drawing your attention to our 20% sale that extends to midnight on Sunday. Look through our capacious list of wines, choose your faves, and use the code “pays20” at checkout. Whether you want wine to stock your own cellar, give as gifts, or have on hand for guests, we’ve got you covered–beautifully.

Here’s our full list of 20% off wines. (Click on the hidden link embedded in that sentence.) You want ’em. You got ’em. All the taste, all the quality and all the value, 20% off.

Inside Santa’s Workshop

In the cellar with the hard-working men

Each December, the IWM cellar that sits below our Union Square showroom magically transforms into Santa’s Workshop as our brilliant Cellar Team takes speed and efficiency to new levels.  Many days it’s 50 cases in, 50 cases out, while at the same time the guys in the cellar are busy meticulously sorting and readying hundreds of individual gifts for delivery to lucky recipients.  All of this carefully controlled chaos happens within the cool confines our 60,000-bottle wine cellar. It’s fast, furious, and crowded.

In Santa’s Workshop, hands move so fast that David Blaine and Eric Clapton would be impressed. If I take clients down to see the cellar during December, I’m sure to warn them to keep their hands and feet in tight, or they may be accidentally packed in a box of wine and shipped upstate or across the country.

As a rabid football fan, I watch our guys in the cellar move around each other without even making eye contact, and it reminds me of watching a great offensive line that instinctively knows where every member is shifting as they block. In our cellar, however, this happens for twelve straight hours every day.  I’ve found that the only way to get the Cellar Team to slow down is to bring them a box of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins, although that gives them just a minor pause and then it’s back to full speed.

Gifting should be an enjoyable and personal experience, just as buying wine should in general.  If we can handle everything in between – from budgeting to delivery – then we’re doing our job for our clients.  Our cellar team is all heart, and I think that’s what drives them to greatness, especially during the holidays.  They are the engine of IWM, our finely-tuned orchestra.  And they know how make a 50-pack of Munchkin Donuts completely disappear.

Gentlemen, I raise a toast to you.

Go-To-Wine Tuesday

Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto 2009

Dolcetto is the unsung grape of Piemonte probably because it makes an everyday table wine, appeared most often as a blending grape, and for a long time was considered unsuitable as a standalone varietal.  Growing side by side in the vineyards harvesting Nebbiolo and Barbera, and handled by the same winemakers producing Barolo, Barbaresco, and the like, Dolcetto got a bit lost. Therefore, it can be hard to get excited about the unassuming “little sweet one” that is Dolcetto.

Although Dolcetto needs some introduction, Piemonte’s Bartolo Mascarello needs little: it’s a vineyard that has been in production since 1918 and one of the fiercest traditionalists of Barolo. When the staff sent me home with Mascarello’s ‘09 Dolcetto for review, I happily acquiesced and called a few friends to gather their impressions—there are also perks to go along with being a friend of an employee of IWM.

“What’s this evenings taste?” they asked.

“It’s only a Dolcetto tonight,” I replied.  Only a Dolcetto!  That was my attitude as the cork was pulled and the glasses poured.

Dark, earthy, with a serious balance of acidity and wild berry fruit, this ‘09 bottling shows all the mastery of the Mascarello touch.  Complex in its simplicity and delightfully pleasing with a solid structure and a long healthy finish – my friends were exuberant in their praise and I found myself momentary embarrassed with the casualty of my introductory presentation.  Great wines do not always command large price tags and sometimes the treasures of a region are found not only in their flagship champions, but in the everyday vibrancy of wines made to be consumed, to be enjoyed and explored every day.

Only a Dolcetto, I said.  Only a Dolcetto indeed.

Busy, Busy, Busy Portfolio Managers

One IWM PM wants to help (and eat lunch)

It’s the most wonderful busy time of year!

Every company has its busy time of year, but it seems, for one reason or another, the holiday season keeps everyone at IWM from having lunch. This is my third holiday season at Italian Wine Merchants, and it is definitely the busiest time for us. Some may say, “Ii’s only wine, it can’t be that bad,” but I assure you that working 12-14 hours per day, including Saturdays, with barely enough time for a quick ham and cheese is no joke. As much fun as we have in the office with Christmas music in the background, we take orders very seriously.

Each day I am on the phone with my clients walking them through the wines I think will work for their tastes and gift budgets. Each day I receive a number of spread sheets with detailed instructions on the gift-sending what, who, and how. Each day is another day to put another person with another wine—or twenty. And each day is another chance to mess it up. Knowing what you are doing in this situation is extremely important to maintain fluidity. Know the client, know the wines, know the inventory, know the shipping problems that could occur and know how to enter 100-500 addresses and gifts in one shot, all while providing detailed feedback to the client. Thanks goodness I have my colleague Ally to help me; otherwise it would be overwhelming. There is a great team effort to make sure we get our job done right. from bringing each other’s cards down to the cellar to getting coffees or sandwiches for each other.

There’s always the question: what kind of gift would people like? If you want a sure bet, you should always go with a sparkling, a white and a red—that way, if you don’t know the recipient’s tastes, you know that you got them covered. One of my favorite gifts to recommend is here below:

One bottle each of Villa Sparina Brut NV, Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto 2009, and Vinosia Doceassaje 2007, all packed in our gift basket. It’s a great-looking gift, and the wines are delicious. You can’t miss!

Taking the Stress out of Gift-Giving with Wine

Francesco Vigorito wants to help

It’s holiday time, and many of us are feeling the stress of getting gifts for all our loved ones creeping up on us. We want to find fun, witty gifts that make a statement.   Most of all, we are looking to find gifts that will last a lifetime. I like to give wine. Here’s several reasons why I believe that wine is an all-encompassing gift:

  1. Wine literally can last a lifetime. Take for instance our 1 bottle Barolo Gift Box, a spectacular gift of a wine from one of the premier Barolo producers.  Barolos are the epitome of traditionally styled Italian wine that conveys a sense of terroir and personality found nowhere else in the wine world.  Not to mention these wines have the capacity to age gracefully for 15-40+ years, depending on the producer and vintage. That Wii system is lucky to make it five.
  1. Wine has the ability to inspire conversation and create lasting memories.  The Circo di Tavolo (Dinner for Six) Six Bottle Tasting Pack will do just that.  One sparkler, two whites and two reds makes a spectacular package for entertaining.  Some of my most favorite memories were made when family and friends gathered around a table to eat, drink and make merry.   If you know somebody who likes to entertain, this is the gift.  For food pairing suggestions please email me at and I will be glad to help out! (You can also buy the pack for yourself and give the bottles out individually as hostess gifts. No one will know; I promise.)
  1. Relive the Tuscan experience. Who doesn’t love Tuscany?  Most of us would do anything to return.  The beauty of wine is in its ability to take you places with just one sip. The  Tuscan Trio Three-Bottle Basket makes the memories once lived live again. Even if you can’t get to Toscana, wines from Toscana will transport you—or your lucky gift recipient.

For more holiday suggestions, you can check out our website. Or email me. I want to help you make your holiday season happier. Or more wine-erful, if you will.

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