There may only be 229 grand sommeliers in the world, but Amazon may be giving them all a run for their money. Buying wine is a tricky task, and what do you really know about how woody or mineral-y you actually like your wine? Whether the answer is “very little” or “a lot,” you may still benefit from Amazon’s newest service — a free phone consultation with certified sommeliers. Don’t worry — you won’t be speaking to a robot (because some jobs have to stay sacred). But for now, the service is only available in Japan and in Japanese in the narrow time window between noon and 5 p.m.
To prevent customers from having to hold in perpetuity, the system will allow prospective wine buyers to leave their numbers with Amazon, whereupon a sommelier will actually give them a ring. There’s no set waiting time, though a spokeswoman for Amazon Japan notes, “It depends on how busy the sommeliers are, but typically we believe that they will be able to call back in a few minutes.” When Sam Byford of The Verge tried the service, he says that he was contacted in just a matter of seconds.
You can ask your certified sommelier anything you’d ask a wine expert at a fine dining establishment — what beverages pair well with these foods? What special Japanese varietal would the sommelier recommend? How’s the South African grape this year? Any one of the 8,000 types of wine Amazon Japan offers (and delivers) is fair game, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
As per Byford’s first hand experience, the sommelier’s advice was “helpful and easy to understand. She explained the process by which Japanese wine is made, and the palate that makers tend to go for, and that the results tend to be quite light by Western standards.” And to round out the customer service experience, some of Amazon’s sommeliers will send follow-up emails to the conversation, because you can’t possibly be expected to remember all those unfamiliar, foreign names by yourself.
So give a rouse, non-Japanese Amazon customers. This service sounds like one we’d enjoy the world over.