In The Bag

Strategizing What to Bring on a Sales Call

How Christin Aarons, a sales rep for Rhode Island’s Wine Bros., optimizes her samples bag

Christin Aarons
Photo courtesy of Christin Aarons.

In our series In the Bag, wine and spirits sales reps discuss the bottles they’re tasting with customers today.

Behind every wine sales representative lies a story of passion, persistence, and endless hard work. Christin Aarons’s story involves years of working in the hospitality industry, a two-year winemaking program, and an internship at Charles Smith Wines in Washington. She now sells wine at The Wine Bros., a small, eight-person company located in Rumford, Rhode Island. When not running, hiking, cooking, or chasing after her kids, Aarons can be found pouring glasses of wine, sake, and spirits for her long list of Rhode Island–based clients.

Aarons began at The Wine Bros. in February 2016. “As a small company, we all wear a lot of hats,” she says. “There’s always new stuff to learn and things to do.” For Aarons in particular, this includes sales, event organization, and helping out on the marketing side of the company. “The Wine Bros. is a great place to be,” she says. “We’re all very supportive of one another.” For example, she says, “if someone on our team is in a play, we all go see it together. The company is very family oriented. There are only eight of us total—two employees in the office, two delivery people, and four in sales.”

The Wine Bros. sells beer, wine, sake, spirits, cider, and soda. Aarons explains that the company has a particular focus on smaller, independent producers and places a huge emphasis on organic and biodynamic farmers—Wine Bros. works extensively, and directly, with Zev Rovine and Indie Wineries, as well as with many natural wine producers. Although Aarons tends to see wine as her particular specialty, she makes sure she’s educated on all of her company’s products so that she can service her accounts as effectively as possible. Her accounts are both on- and off-premise and range throughout the entire state.

Aarons starts an average day by waking up early and getting her two kids ready for school. She’s generally out of the house by 8:30, drops her girls off, drives to her farthest account of the day, and then slowly makes her way back to home base. Visiting accounts, tasting buyers on new items, answering phone calls, and responding to emails occupies her until 5 pm. After dinner, family time, and getting her daughters to bed, she resumes her work, sending off final emails and getting her schedule ready for the next day—including prepping her samples bag.

“I have a full bag every week,” says Aarons. “I really focus on bringing that bag to every account [to taste with clients].” Though not everyone is always up for tasting, most of the accounts she works with know when she’ll be out and about and are eager to taste what she has to offer that week. “The bag is generally six [selections], but I’m known for stuffing eight or nine bottles into it.” Working out of a car rather than being on foot makes this much more feasible. Aarons always chooses what goes in her bag herself; there is never any pressure from her company. Generally, she bases her weekly selections on her clients’ needs and then builds her bag accordingly.

Here are the six bottles she’s traveling with today. (The prices listed are The Wine Bros.’ suggested retail prices for the Rhode Island market.)

Bottle 1: Les Rocailles Apremont Blanc, Savoie, France 2016; $17

This wine hails from France’s Savoie region and is produced from 100 percent Jacquère. “We just underwent a vintage change, from ’15 to ’16,” Aarons explains. “No one requested it, but it’s a wine that I tend to love—light, crisp. It’s pretty for Thanksgiving, and it’s not expensive. So I threw it in the bag.”

Bottle 2: Supernatural Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 2014; $20

“The wine is very naturally made and is farmed organically,” Aarons says. This particular cuvée went out of stock for a while, then came back, so The Wine Bros. picked up a bunch more. “It’s a richer, more dense Sauvignon Blanc,” she says, “being that it’s from Hawke’s Bay.” Aarons says that this wine would also be great for Thanksgiving because of its bigger flavors and aromas. “It’s very versatile and different from Marlborough because it’s so much warmer [in Hawke’s Bay],” she says. “I wanted to remind everyone that it’s back in stock.”

Bottle 3: Swick Wine Sec Sièmèfe, Columbia Valley, Washington 2016; $38

Aarons explains that this is the first time Joe Swick has ever released this 100 percent Touriga Nacional wine from Columbia Valley to the market. “We have a few natural wine accounts in the state [of Rhode Island] and they are huge supporters of Joe Swick, who owns this winery,” she says. Aarons mentions that Swick comes to Rhode Island frequently and has many friends in the state. “When he has something new to the market,” she says, “I love to take it out and introduce everyone to it.”

Bottle 4: Sono Montenidoli, Chianti Colli Senesi Il Garrulo, Italy 2014; $27

It’s clear that November’s upcoming holiday had a lot to do with Aarons’s selections this week. “Again,” she says, “this wine would be great with Thanksgiving dinner. The reason I love this one is that it’s completely organic, very hands-off winemaking—a more rustic, old-school-style Chianti.” The blend is traditional for the region, comprising 75 percent Sangiovese and the remaining 25 percent a blend of Canaiolo, Trebbiano, and Malvasia. “The wine has a really beautiful texture,” Aarons says, “and while it’s more rustic and high in acid, it has great depth and length.”

Bottle 5: Nanbu Bijin Umeshu Muto (Plum Sake), Iwate, Japan; $36

Plum sake isn’t generally a big seller for most, Aarons concedes. This ended up in the bag because of a special request from one of her accounts. Aarons says that plum sake is generally made with a very tart variety of plums, followed by the addition of tons of sugar to make it palatable. But, she says, “they make this [sake] in a totally different style, where it’s basically a Junmai sake, and the sweetness comes from the koji rice [not sugar].”

Bottle 6: Yuu Baal Mezcal Joven Espadín, Oaxaca, Mexico; $36

“This is a brand-new mezcal we have in stock,” Aarons says. “It’s from a newer producer, completely Mexican owned.” She explains that Yuu Baal focuses on the different terroirs of the Oaxaca region, highlighting the unique soils and climate conditions of the area. “What I love about this is that it’s pretty affordable for mezcal,” she says. “Smoke is pronounced on the nose, but the palate is fruity and spicy. It’s a great entry-level mezcal for people not used to super-smoky expressions.”

Vicki Denig is a New York-based wine and spirits journalist and wine educator, discovering the world through the lens of a glass, one sip at a time. When not tasting or traveling, she can most likely be found running through Astoria Park or sipping on Cabernet Franc.

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