Carrefour wine fair 2008: Bring your own glass?

By Jim Boyce

Carrefour held its October wine fair in Beijing last night. As in the past, it drew a strong turnout and featured:

  • Samples from hundreds of wines from several dozen distributors;
  • Discounts on all bottles;
  • Chinese and expatriates sipping wine and buying in bulk – you could say both shoppers and shopping carts were fully loaded.

I tried forty wines and in the end bought three (see Southern exposure). As for the event, I found it fun, but somewhat sloppy, and suggest three easy ways that Carrefour and the wine distributors could make the next one in Beijing even better.

Glasses: Clean some
The event ran from 6 PM to midnight, but the glasses ran out around 8 PM, which meant shifting to small paper or plastic cups. The thing is, glasses far outnumbered patrons, but no system seemed in place to gather the dirty ones and clean them (the glasses, not the patrons). Instead, they sat at the serving stations for hours, creating a mess and being primarily used for spittoons. Speaking of which…

Spittoons: Get some
The average distributor has heaps at its office, but I guess no one thought to bring them, which meant patrons spat and dumped unwanted wine into the aforementioned dirty glasses or, much worse, the ice buckets. Call me crazy, but I doubt any winery wants to be associated with bottles pulled from dirty slushy backwash, especially when a bucket, pail, or other makeshift container is easy to buy (we were in Carrefour, after all).

Prices: Know them
I visited several tables staffed by three or four people handling less than a dozen wines, and found not one person who could tell me the price of even one of the bottles.

Again, I enjoyed the event, but a few simple things – cleaning glasses, getting spittoons, knowing prices – would make the next one even better for consumers and distributors.

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  1. Hi Matt,

    They had the same system here, but either they didn’t prepare enough glasses or they didn’t have much control of people grabbing new ones, because I saw a dozen or two empty dirty glasses on many of the serving tables. That meant people who came later ended up using paper and plastic cups, which isn’t that big of a deal, but something that could easily be prevented and ensure people had a better time and bought more wine.

    Cheers, Jim

  2. Did the Carrefour wine tasting in Shenzhen last year–quite fun. Not being a connoisseur, I didn’t mind drinking every glass. It did get sloppy…especially after they stopped serving and my group grabbed several opened bottles and kept drinking for a few more hours.

    As for the glasses, they gave us one glass and just kept pouring into it unless you asked for a new one.

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