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ADVERTISING: Advertorial — Helping you find wine

by GEORGE BALLING/the Dinner Party
| September 14, 2022 1:00 AM

It is one of our most frequent requests and has been since we opened the shop 15 years ago. Some are easier than others but we always do our best when we get asked, “Can you find this wine for me?” The challenge has been greater over recent months as COVID related supply interruptions have made it difficult and slow going to get some wines even when we do find the source for them. Here are some pointers though when you are on the hunt for a specific bottle.

You are always welcome to stop in the shop and ask us in person or even call us at 208-765-5653 and ask us about the wine you are after. It is even better though to email us at george@thedinnerpartyshop.com. This not only helps us keep track of your request but also provides a reminder to follow up with our sources for the wine.

One of the most important things to know is how Idaho Liquor Law impacts our ability to get wine for you. Idaho is a three-tier state which is a complex term but basically means that if the wine does not come into the state through an Idaho licensed distributor, we are not allowed to carry the wine or even get it for you. Having said that though, we do business with most every distributor in the state, including those located far away in Southern Idaho so if the wine does make it into the state, we will be able to get it for you.

This surprises our customers many times but we do not have minimum orders, we can get you one or as many bottles as you like based on the stock at the distributor. It is good for you to know though that with trucking and other issues things are moving slowly now so give yourself ample lead time if you need the wine by a specific date.

The best wineries and importers to work with when we go on the hunt for a bottle you are looking to acquire have a “tab” on their website that lists their distributors in specific states across the country. It makes the search far more efficient and we are able to track the wine down more quickly for you. A good way for you to help with the speed of any search is to let us know if you had the wine somewhere locally, this tips us off that the wine is already in the state, and because of our relationships with restaurants around town and the whole region we can often call them and inquire about their source for your wine.

Many of you have snapped a picture of the bottle which is always helpful. Here is another pointer though, take a picture of both the front and back label. If the wine is made here in the states but is either a second label of a larger winery or a “brand” they have developed outside of their main estate wines the back label will identify the producing winery which we will likely know. If the wine is imported the back label will show the name of the importer. Because we keep great relationships with importers from across the country many times, we will know the distributor they work with here in Idaho. It also gives us an additional source for distributor information as even if the winery doesn’t list distributors the importer may.

Many wineries don’t distribute all of the wine they make. It is a very common practice for wineries to hold back some of their prized productions for either their wine clubs or they designate them as “winery only.” We understand this approach, they are in the business of selling wine as well and the bottle they sell direct to consumers from their winery is the most profitable for them. So, even though we may have some wine from the winery that makes the bottle you are searching for, we may not be able to get all of the different wines they make.

Finally, there are some wines concentrated on the higher end of the price spectrum that are allocated. There is only a certain amount we can get in any year. The allocation happens at a specific time of the year either in the Spring or Fall and wine can either sell out very quickly, and some times is reserved by customers who regularly buy the wine. This does limit our ability to get some of the higher end bottlings.

We have tracked down some fairly obscure wines for many of you over the years, even one time a sparkling natural wine from Slovenia! We are always happy to look for wine for you, contact us and we will do our best.

• • •

George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the Dinner Party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The Dinner Party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018.

George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop.

You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop or visit www.thedinnerpartyshop.com.

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