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  • James Lord

Don’t judge a book by its cover (or a wine by its label)

This week, my team and I were fortunate to experience a wine-tasting event/class in Montclair, NJ, an upscale boutique liquor shop. As we entered, we were greeted by multiple employees who all seemed more than happy to try to assist us. As soon as they identified our group, they quickly introduced us to Bart, the person who would run our event for the evening.



My team and I first noticed how Wes was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Later we learned it was one of his “good” t-shirts 😊. Moments later, we became dazzled by his knowledge and expertise in many facets of the wine industry. Geography, grapes, region, vine age, placement in relation to the sun, soil geology, and the list goes on… Bart was an expert in his field. He spent time traveling the world to the places where their boutique wines are made. He knew the history of the vineyard owners. His passion and understanding of the industry were better than anyone I’ve ever met.


We later learned that Bart grew up as a musician. After college, he began working part-time as a delivery driver for this boutique liquor store. As the owners saw potential in him, they invested in his training and development. Soon afterward, Bart became the head of international sales for the shop, which has multiple locations in the NJ area.


Not only did the shop owner know better than to judge a book by its cover, but so did we. My team and I quickly appreciated his expertise instead of caring about his flip-flops. Unfortunately, there are still people today who care more about the brand of shoes you wear or the tattoos on your arm than the value you bring.


Judge books (and people) by the value they deliver – not by how they appear at first glance. Most of the smartest and likable people I know have never been in a beauty pageant or a fashion show. And if you're buying wine, trust the experts like Bart...not the label on the bottle.


(Bart isn’t his real name – but the story is true)

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