If you’ve ever traveled in Abruzzi or the Auvergne and stayed in a farmhouse hotel where you were told that the house-wine was made by the brother-in-law of the bartender, you know that it’s an eye-opening experience to drink fresh wine at the source. And if you drank it freely and loved it, and felt great, you might have wondered why the same kind of wine never seems quite as good in the U.S. The reason is heat and abuse.
To be fair, most of the damage to wine happens long before it arrives in wine shops. But if they care about their customers, wine retailers have an obligation, at the very least, to refuse to accept delivery of heat damaged wine. No benefit comes to a “fine” wine in the “special wine vault” of an upscale Manhattan wine shop, if it was already cooked when it arrived at the store.
The hot trucks, hot shipping containers, and hot liquor warehouses that are the norm in the wine distribution system are inexcusable in the twenty-first century. The refrigerated systems that can protect wine from heat at every link in the chain of events that gets it from winery to consumer add only about $3.00 per case to the wholesale price. But retailers almost never check for evidence of damage, so it’s not surprising how much cooked wine finds its way into consumers’ glasses.
At Moore Brothers we’ll never sidestep or backpedal or obfuscate or compromise on this subject. All of the space in a Moore Brothers store is kept at 56 degrees (with the exception of our New York event space), even overnight in August. Every wine gets the same careful treatment – our $11 Côtes-du-Rhône, no less than our $150 Puligny-Montrachet is worthy of proper storage.
At Moore Brothers, our situation is unique: we don’t buy wine outside of our own supply chain. We can guarantee that everything you buy here was picked-up, consolidated, shipped, warehoused, and delivered to us in perfect conditions of temperature-control. And the wine just might taste the way you remember it in Abruzzi.
We happily admit that 56 degrees isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect shopping environment, no matter how good the service. We have nice fleece jackets from Land’s End in three sizes and colors for customers to use. Speaking for myself, 56 degrees isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect working environment either (we’re big fans of silk long-johns and flannel lined khakis). Besides, it’s expensive to maintain it in the summer. But there’s no other way to do it right.
A happy customer once wrote to me that “…drinking Moore Brothers wine is like drinking Evian…when you’re used to Philadelphia tap water.” In the end, it’s simple. The store where you buy is totally committed to offering you great wine in perfect condition; or it isn’t.