Film nights, gourmet burger evenings and even a Douro vs Alentejo blind tasting competition have brought Portugal to life in independent wine merchants.
After the bountiful Christmas period come two words to strike fear into the hearts of drinks retailers: dry January.
Over the past couple of years Banbury-based independent wine merchant and regional wholesaler SH Jones has shocked the trade by buying two established online retailers and the wholesale arm of agency Stevens Garnier.
Talk to a customer about wine and you can bet the topics of grapes and vineyards aren’t too far behind. Have a similar conversation about beer, and the natural ingredients that go into a brew, or the rolling British countryside they’re grown in, might be a bit slower to come up – if they do at all.
October 6, 2001, is a date indelibly etched in the minds of diehard England fans. Dreams of qualifying for the Euro 2002 championships were fading fast as the Three Lions trailed Greece 2-1 at Wembley.
It’s nearly reached that time of year when everything’s sparkling: the fairy lights, the gifts under the Christmas tree, the tinsel – even the wines. And all the indications are that bubbly sales will be sparkling this year too.
Bringing together three of the New World’s most exciting wine-producing countries to debate their similarities and differences was always going to throw up a fascinating exchange of ideas.
Our Christmas Hot List is a guide to the spirits that make the perfect party drinks and are great for gifts.
We talk to the champions of some of the wine regions you might not have heard much about, and ask what makes their wines worth seeking out.
New Year’s Eve is the biggest party of the year, but a night on the tiles can leave revellers needing open-heart surgery on their wallets. Last year a four-course meal at a Giraffe restaurant in London cost £100 on December 31 as opposed to the usual price of around £20 for three courses, while entry to London’s Sky Bar cost £185.
Hedonism Wines is a huge, modern, glitzy wine boutique in London’s Mayfair. Set up by the founder of Russia’s largest mobile phone retailer in late 2012, it covers 700sq m over two floors and lists some 5,500 wines and 2,000 spirits. It is run by chief executive Tatiana Fokina, who has a background in luxury retailing.
The outside of Conviviality Retail’s pilot BB’s Warehouse in Wakefield is adorned with the legend “the best brands at the best prices”. It’s a motto that’s been the guiding principle of the company’s flagship Bargain Booze brand since its first store opened in 1981, but here it’s being pursued in a whole new way for the chain.
Bordeaux is on a mission to prove there is far more to the region than expensive red wines for rich retirees to sip at country clubs.
Drinks are more likely to be given as a present than chocolate or beauty products, and 73% of people bought alcohol as a gift in the past year, according to the William Grant Market Report.
Autumn and apples go together like, well, apple pie and custard, or pork and apple sauce. Keats’s season of mists and mellow fruitfulness calls to mind apple bobbing, toffee apples, and all sorts of other appley delights.
After a bumper 2013, South African wine exports are expected to dip this year – but that is just getting the industry back into the right balance, says Wines of South Africa chief executive Siobhan Thompson.
Advertising guru turned wine producer Sir John Hegarty got tongues wagging and brains working overtime with an incendiary address at the Wine & Spirit Trade Association conference. In these extracts, he tells the trade what it’s doing right – and what it’s getting wrong.
Pierpaolo Petrassi MW presides over a BWS empire that is showing healthy growth and cannot stop winning awards for the dynamism it brings to the grocery channel.
In the drinks trade, the festive season isn’t heralded by silver bells, twinkling lights or even the always-shocking appearance of mince pies in supermarkets on September 1. Instead, the multiples welcome the biggest trading season of the year with the traditional yuletide slashing of prices on port, sparkling wine, liqueurs and other premium products.
Greene King has overtaken John Smith’s supplier Heineken to become the market leader in the off-trade ale category for the first time.
This seven-strong chain has expanded beyond Cambridge to Salisbury, Royston in Hertfordshire and Ampthill in Bedfordshire and has scooped the OLN Drinks Retailing Award for Independent Drinks Retailer of the Year three times.
The market is recovering and off- trade sales are surging as drinkers forgo the pub in favour of a tipple at home, so now might be a good time to open a new store. But if you are considering this there are various legalities you need to be aware of, one of which is a fundamental asset – the premises licence.
Supermarkets do the best job of selling cider, an OLN poll of suppliers has suggested. Seventy-eight per cent said supermarkets were the best cider retailers, while 22% voted for independent off-licences. High street chains, convenience stores, independent wine merchants and farm shops garnered no votes.
The average bottle of wine in the UK off-trade today will set you back £5.34, according to Nielsen – a hefty whack for consumers facing income squeezes, soaring household bills and rising taxes.
One offers “big brands, big savings”, the other “top brands, bottom prices”. They’re the new discounters threatening to make their mark on the alcohol category in the same way that Aldi and Lidl have before them.
“It’s been manic,” says Richard Cochrane of the year since he left Bibendum to take on the role of managing director at Spanish winery Félix Solís Avantis’s newly formed UK subsidiary.
The UK has enjoyed one of the most glorious summers in recent memory and BWS sales have soared as sandal-clad Brits sought refreshment.
RTD producers may not have paid too much attention when Kopparberg branched out from its apple and pear cider variants to launch mixed fruit flavours into the UK market in late 2007.
In 2013 70% of TV sets sold in the UK were classified as big – 26in-32in – and nearly 16% were were “jumbo” – 43in or bigger. This is up 4% from the year before, according to TV Licensing’s annual Telescope report on the nation’s viewing habits.
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