One of the most important lessons I learned in my ten years of independent real estate sales is the simple fact that agents don’t sell houses. People know within ten seconds of walking through the front door whether or not the home might work for them. The actual job of the agent is searching, selecting, and showing the right types of homes in neighborhoods the client desires (or needs to be aware of) and then facilitating the sale. Houses, not agents, sell houses.
When I first arrived at IWM, I believed there would be a many similarities between the real estate and the wine industries, and though there are certainly many common areas, I’m finding there aren’t as many as I’d imagined. The most obvious aspect of difference is the sheer volume of product available. In real estate, a client generally has four or five acceptable neighborhoods at most, with may be twenty five to forty homes, and probably only ten that match in the proper price point. In wine, there are hundreds—even thousands—of choices.
If I let wine sell wine, however, my clients may never get around to the producer I know they’d like. In Italy alone there are 20 regions containing 36 DOCG appellations, with over 300 DOC designations, and literally thousands of producers spread all over the map. Most producers offer multiple bottlings, styles, and price points with dramatic variations between vintages; navigating this terrain with an MLS key and an afternoon won’t even scratch the surface. Granted, some of our clients know exactly what they want; they keep track of the arriving allocations and make selections based on their own knowledge (and their PM’s suggestions), but even then, part of my job involves challenging that knowledge and perhaps guiding clients to new experiences, untried varietals, or new and different producers. Other clients need a lot of guidance—brief overviews of grape attributes, regional specialties, and anecdotes on producer history and vinification techniques. Then, of course, buying a wine isn’t as big a commitment as buying a house. On the other hand, I want my clients to like what I suggest.
In real estate, knowing the market and serving client needs is paramount; that much at least remains the same in both industries. Good agents watch their city like a hawk. They know the up-and-coming neighborhoods, recognize good buys when they see one, and can visualize the renovations needed at a glance. They take the speculation out of the game by providing comparative market analysis, appreciation and resale trends. They stick with you through the process and are there during inspections, mortgage applications, and generally show up at the closing with a gift in hand. Now that I think of it, that’s a lot like how we work.
Selling wine, though, is just a lot more fun.
Posted on | January 4, 2011 | Written by Michael Greeson | No Comments
It has been brought to my attention that my once oversized work trousers are bursting at the seams. After weeks of indulging in decadent feasts and a great deal of Piedmontese wine, I realized that it was time to turn it down a notch. As a result, those long weekday nights spent inhaling malted marshmallow chocolate cake after a gigantic piece of La Frieda beef are on indefinite hiatus. I’ve decided to add something of a diet to my diminutive list of New Year’s resolutions. Consequently, I’ve instituted an amorphous plan to patiently ease into this lifestyle overhaul by coming up with an amalgamation of baby-steps that will provide me with a desirable physique and healthy mind.
However, when a man embarks upon such lowly dieting enterprise, which he seldom does, he must nonetheless remain aware of his intolerance to persuasion. As Oscar Wilde once said, “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” And so, in short, I have. Every successful diet begins with one last gluttonous soiree and to kick off my 2011 New Year’s resolution I whipped up something really nice: caramelized banana pancakes that I served with IWM’s Forteto della Luja Moscato d’Asti. (We’ve embedded a link to click.)
Glory! The effervescent sweetness in the wine danced perfectly with the rich, fluffy texture of the warm cakes. An unexpected pairing, it nevertheless was a delightful change from the standard celebratory mimosas, and with a low ABV, I was still fresh enough to hit the gym!
Happy New Year from Italian Wine Merchants, and best of luck to you and all of your clever resolutions!
To celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, I went to a BYOB sushi restaurant with some friends, and everyone was generous enough to bring several bottles of sparkling wines from different countries. It was interesting (and delicious) to compare Prosecco vs. Cava vs. Champagne, all paired with different kinds of sushi rolls.
The meal was fantastic, but I think we all over estimated the amount of food and wine that we could all consume, so we ended up bringing a lot back home. So the question becomes what to do with leftover Champagne? Champagne is such a special drink that you don’t want to waste it, but you also don’t want to turn it into something that’s any less glorious than in its pure form. So here is my idea for a glamorous after New Year’s Champagne meal.
To start, I am going to prepare a Champagne Risotto. Risotto needs a lot of liquid to soften and cook, so why not make part of that liquid Champagne? You can add some vegetables of your choice, but I think this recipe with asparagus and prosciutto from the Food Network sounds amazing. (Link embeded, but you can also click here.)
The main dish will be chicken with truffles and a Champagne sauce, which I found on Epicurious. This is definitely a way to transform what could be an average meal into something amazing. Depending on my budget after the holidays, I might have to leave out the truffles and substitue porcini, but I’m saving by re-using the Champagne! (Click here too.)
For dessert: Champagne truffles. There are several different methods and variations on how to make them, some easier than others; this one that I found on Free Recipes looks both manageable and yummy. You can make them in advance as well, and they will surely impress your dinner guests. It’s an example of an easy recipe that will be delicious no matter what. (Final spot to click.)
This meal will be a great way to start off my year, and hopefully set the precedent for how I will be dining in 2011. Do you have any culinary tricks or savory secrets in how you use your leftover bubbly?
If there is an equivalent to the Grinch for New Year’s Eve, I am she. I never understand why anyone would want to pay double at clubs and restaurants to celebrate the beginning of a “new” year. Time being relative, thinking that there is a “new” year is a concept that I find quite hysterical. I also fail to comprehend how thousands of people think it’s a magical idea to stand in the middle of Times Square for twelve hours plus, usually in freezing temperatures, with no access to bathrooms and much threat of being squished to near suffocation.
There is, however, one very wonderful aspect to this holiday. So wonderful, in fact, that it makes all of the drudgery of New Year’s traditions worth it. And that wonderful thing would be sparkling wine. Champagne often claims the primary place as the drink of festivity, mostly due to great marketing during the Industrial Revolution. But in addition to Champagne, we can enjoy sparkling wine from other parts of the world. Cava is a favorite of mine from Spain. I also truly enjoy the fresh, fruit-forward yet citrusy aspects of Italy’s Prosecco. Being totally enamored with Riesling, I am overjoyed to see this grape being produced in Lombardia in a frizzante style, and I absolutely love the avant-garde creation Frecciarossa 2008 Riesling Frizzante Nai. Another wonderful Italian sparkling for the season would be the Bruno Giacosa 2004 Spumante Brut, made from Pinot Noir and vinified in the méthode champenoise technique, which makes it similar to Champagne with the second fermentation in the bottle. (Click here for IWM’s full list of Champagnes, Proseccos and other sparklers.)
I realize my opinions on New Year’s Eve are rather harsh. Maybe I need to travel and spend New Year’s in other countries to experience the same holiday with some different cultural traditions. But I do know, no matter where I go to celebrate, there will always be bubbly! And for that, I’m delighted. Sparkling, even.
On a day like this when the wind howls at my window and the snow piles up at my doorstep, I yearn for my favorite wintry drinks: Port, Amarone, even a hot toddy. To be perfectly honest, I would not normally choose a Barbera for drinking in December; if I were given a choice, I would probably decide on a heavier wine with more tannic structure, like a Bordeaux or Cote-Rotie. But this particular Barbera is Aldo Conterno’s 2007 Barbera d’Alba Conca Tre Pile (Editor’s note: that link is to the 2006 because the ’07 is yet to be put on our website). This is Barbera from a Piemonte master. Today, even in the midst of the snowpocalypse, I am only too happy to be drinking Barbera
I became a loyal fan of Poderi Aldo Conterno when I first joined IWM back in 2007. My first taste of the 2000 Barolo Granbussia Riserva was certainly an unforgettable experience; however, at $250 a bottle, it is not an experience that I can regularly repeat. But the Conca Tre Pile at less than $40 falls solidly under the category of “affordable luxury” for many people. My first impression of this wine was that it was a bit closed. (Although to be fair, none of the glasses in my apartment allow for proper swirling!) The nose, while very pretty, was not really jumping out of the glass, so I set it aside for a while and got to work on making dinner. After all, what is a good wine without good food to complement it?
An hour later, I sat down with a steaming plate of my improvised version of bucatini all’amatriciana and returned to my wine glass. The nose was much more aromatic and pronounced now, showing lots of dark, almost prune-like fruit. In fact, the fruit showed a much darker character than I would have expected from a Barbera. On the palate, the wine expressed its typical vibrant acidity along with a slight earthy undertone, pairing well with the smoky and tangy tomato sauce and making my mouth water for another bite of pasta with every sip. On the finish, this Barbera was uncommonly tannic; this is mostly due to its aging in barrique for twelve months, but the tannins were undoubtedly magnified by the heat from the crushed chilies in my pasta sauce.
At the end of the meal, my plate was cleaned and my cup drained, and I’d had a wholly satisfying experience. The 2007 Conca Tre Pile, while not an overly complex or thought-provoking wine, is a welcome addition a simple meal–whatever the season.
« go back — keep looking »