19 Nov Customer interview – BELViNi.DE GmbH – Rüdiger Kühnle
If you are looking for your new favourite wine or an unusual drop for your Christmas dinner, then you should definitely visit BELViNi. What began as a small team of wine lovers and blind tastings has now grown into a renowned medium-sized company that has made it to the top of the German wine trade. The love for wine has remained, the knowledge and experience of 16 business years has been added. And even after this long time, the pleasure company from the Dresdner Heide still retains the magic of the beginning.
For all wine lovers and also for all those whose journey into this culinary world is just beginning, the company even publishes its own magazine, has compiled a wine wiki and a wine lexicon. So we raise our glasses and say: „Hooray for so much customer service and commitment!
BELViNi has just been awarded „Best Wine Dealer in Germany“ for the 4th time and is still full of passion and new ideas for the future. After this exciting interview with the managing director Mr. Kühnle even the non-wine drinkers in our team became curious and we are already looking for dates for a wine tasting.
Dear Mr. Kühnle, we are very happy to have this interview with you today. The name of your wine shop BELViNi already radiates a lot of pleasure and well-being. And since Christmas is a very enjoyable time for most people, we have prepared a joint competition to coincide with the upcoming Christmas holidays. But before we get to the great competition surprise – would you like to tell our readers* briefly why you decided to found a company?
The foundation of the company BELViNi has developed from a passion for wine. It all started when our customers could decide by blind tasting which wines were the best for them. Even today, as a pure online wine retailer, the taste of our customers is our priority. With our expertise as winemakers and sommeliers, we are able to respond to our customers‘ wishes with a great deal of expertise and always find the best wine for them. Without the love for wine, however, our success would never have been so great. Our most important motivation is still our passion for wine.
Thank you very much for this interesting insight into the history of our company. In 2003 your first wine shop was opened in the Dresdner Neustadt. What experiences did you have during the start-up phase of BELViNi? Did you have to learn something specific to be successful with your shop?
We started with a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm and wanted to share our enthusiasm for great and enjoyable wines. Therefore, communication with our customers was the first priority. How do you best communicate wine and wine enjoyment? We asked ourselves such questions. Of course, wine lives above all from social gatherings and not from collector’s bottles costing hundreds of euros. That’s why tasting has always been a very important part of our work. When we left the stationary trade, the tasting shifted to our company team, where we continue to live the spirit of the beginnings and incorporate it into our wine texts, the magazine Rebzeilen, our updated internet presence and into the entire marketing.
That sounds very good, we think. BELViNi has also already received many prestigious awards. Apart from the quality and selection of your products, what do you attach particular importance to?
As already mentioned, everything started with a focus on the customer’s taste. Initially very pragmatically in open blind tastings, which finally led to the formulation of our maxim: the worm should not taste good to the angler, but to the fish. When putting together our assortment, this entails an uncompromising and professional selection of products.
As we can see, your passion for wine and customer service is close to your heart. Not only in your wine lexicon, but especially in your wine wiki you will inform interested people about any questions that arise in relation to wine. How do you find the right fine wine and what distinguishes a wine with good taste?
Wine has a lot to do with knowledge. In the context of wine one often speaks of „acquainted taste“, i.e. learned taste. Accordingly, providing the customer with information and knowledge about wine is to a certain extent a natural side effect. Few products arouse as much curiosity as wine. And you never stop learning – even after almost twenty years in the wine business, new perspectives and undreamt-of vastness are opening up in terms of the preparation, origin and taste of wine.
In this way you can go from being a wine lover to a wine connoisseur. In your magazine, too, you open up the worlds of wine enjoyment to your readers* and invite them to discover this exciting and interesting world. Who would you like to take to this world of pleasure and invite to a wine tasting?
Our magazine Rebzeilen certainly has one of the most original names you can give a wine magazine. It is here that we bring all our inspiration to bear, making it a particularly important means of communication with our customers. For us as wine lovers, great personalities from the world of wine are particularly interesting discussion partners. But if the aim is to introduce someone new to the world of wine enjoyment, I can think of people who I like and who have only a rough idea of what wine is like. Tasting together – whether in a professional setting or privately over a relaxed dinner – is the best way to make the special characteristics of certain wines understandable. Especially young people often start with inferior, mostly sweet wines and thus develop a dubious view of this highly complex natural product. Accordingly, it is also our responsibility as wine connoisseurs to steer the enjoyment of wine in a sensible, cultivated direction. In addition, I am a representative of „up-selling“, also in the figurative sense: if you appreciate a good wine, you should also taste a very good wine and then look out for products of a century’s vintage. Basically, however, it’s always about the curiosity and enthusiasm that you want to convey.
In any case, you have awakened curiosity with us. You have already collected over 2700 reviews with AUSGEZEICHNET.ORG in the last 5 years. What role does customer feedback play for you as a company?
Especially as an online retailer you are constantly confronted with customer feedback. This is sometimes frustrating if the reviews or comments are purely emotional and based on misunderstandings. In general, however, one can say that the feedback is a great incentive to bring the service even more to the fore and to constantly improve it. Therefore our support team plays an important role. You can get advice from trained sommeliers by phone. Customer wishes are taken very seriously and are specifically incorporated into the further development of our company.
Very exemplary, because customer satisfaction also comes from customer orientation. Evaluations do not only convince potential customers, they usually also facilitate communication with existing customers. How do you react to reviews, especially when one of them is negative?
In the case of a negative evaluation, it is important to remain objective and clear up any possible misunderstandings. If the rating is justifiably negative, we will of course do everything in our power to satisfy our customers nevertheless. In most cases, these are factors over which we have no direct influence – shipping, wine faults, individual perception, etc. – but which we can usually convert into a positive buying experience with obliging concessions.
But fortunately the positive outweighs the negative: What do you consider to be part of a good bottle of wine – especially during the winter time?
In the end, this depends very much on the wine. A dry and spicy champagne is one of the most festive drinks you can imagine. Together with fresh oysters – a real treat. Sweet wines – Riesling Beerenauslese, ice wines and finely tart Spätlese from Germany or noble Sauternes from Bordeaux, mighty Port wine from Portugal or a juicy Banyuls from the south of France are also part of the festive season for me. I recommend fine desserts such as crème brulée, the finest spiced pastries or blue cheese. Of course, the atmosphere has to be right, too. A well-ripened bottle of red wine – Bordeaux, Cahors, Barolo, Priorat or a Shiraz of old vines from Australia – tastes best in convivial company with friends and family. A juicy entrecôte or fine game dishes should not be missing. On the first day of Christmas we have a juicy Christmas goose with dumplings or spaetzle and red cabbage. A velvety Primitivo from Apulia or a noble red Burgundy goes well with it.
This way you can enjoy winter in a culinary way. What else can your fans look forward to in the future? Are there any special activities you have planned?
In the future we would like to respond even more to specific customer wishes. Special occasions and dishes are in the foreground. Our customers ask themselves which wines they can serve on festive occasions such as Christmas or on more private occasions such as a wedding. Seasonal and regional cuisine also plays an increasingly important role in connection with wine. We want to react to such trends and meet our consumers with a website designed to suit the theme. Furthermore, with our new wine evenings in Berlin, we would like to close the circle to a certain extent and „resume“ direct contact with our customers. Not only wine lovers and wine merchants come together at an exuberant dinner – of course with good wine and freshly prepared food accompaniment – but also with a wide range of other events. At this unique event you will also get to know our friendly winemakers. Together we will spend a nice evening in a friendly atmosphere. Because that is what wine is all about in the end.
That sounds very nice and like a great vision for the future.
Many thanks for this exciting insight into the world of wines and the great interview, dear Mr. Kühnle. We thank you for providing us with this great prize and wish you all the best.