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Cream of the crop

Christmas is all about creating an eclectic drinks cabinet, so retailers should ensure those indulgent and unusual cream liqueurs are clearly visible.

Drinks trade heavyweights reveal how they made it to the top

Many of the biggest names in BWS started at the bottom. They explain why it is so important to nurture new talent. Christine Boggis reports

Beer: Cheers to Brazil

Not everything is quite what it seems. Sitting at a terrace table, taking in mountain views, surrounded by thesort of buildings you see dripping with snow on Christmas cards, it would be easy to think you were in Switzerland or southern Germany. The truth is you are some 6,000 miles away. This is not alpine Europe but Latin America, more precisely a town in Brazil just a couple of hours’ drive from the teeming metropolis of São Paulo.

Sparkling Wine: Bubbling Under

The juggernaut of fizzy popularity that is Prosecco is having another good year.

Fair Trade: A Matter of Ethics

In the enlightened society we live in, it goes without saying that we want our wines to be made by happy, decently paid workers living in sustainable communities where their children can be educated and they get the health and social care they need. Or does it?

Changing the rules: Big Interview with Aldi buyer Mike James

There’s no denying the seismic effects Aldi’s inexorable rise – and its growing focus on wine – have had on drinks retailing in general and the big four supermarkets in particular.

Beyond retail: what the Matthew Clark deal means for Conviviality

It would be overstating things to suggest that Conviviality Retail’s acquisition of Matthew Clark is a game-changer for the drinks industry, but there’s no question that it has catapulted the company previously known only as the owner of Bargain Booze and related brands into a new era.

Too good to be true? Who is behind anti-alcohol studies

Satirical website the Daily Mash has invented a spoof academy, the Institute for Studies, to provide expert comment for its fictional reports. It probably wasn’t inspired by the Institute for Alcohol Studies, but it does say something about the media’s craving for a white-coated boffin to shore up their stories.

Santa's coming: Your guide to the must-stock drinks this Christmas

As the economy finds its feet again and UK consumers start to loosen their purse strings a little, drinks suppliers and retailers are looking forward to an exciting Christmas, with fingers crossed all round for bumper sales.

All wrapped up: drinks gifts report

At Christmas, one must quote Cliff Richard. And as Sir Cliff so correctly informed us in his 1988 number one Mistletoe & Wine, “it’s a time for giving”.

Cloudy with a chance of cider

The forecast is in – and it looks like the cider market is going to be cloudy this autumn.

Vermouth: A Bond Revived

Shaken or stirred, vermouth is the drink to be seen with this season.

Back to the future: what we predicted for the wine trade 10 years ago

Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” Those were the immortal words of Doc Brown to Marty McFly, as he powered up the flux capacitor and headed from 1985 to October 21, 2015, in Back to the Future Part II.

Convenience stores fail on premium

Sales of premium wine are soaring in multiple grocers and struggling convenience stores are in danger of being left behind, new data has revealed.

California wine: seeds of change

Restraint is not a word readily associated with the USA, the land of Man v Food, Muscle Beach and skyscrapers galore.

What about Cava?

The past few years have seen Cava passed over like the ugly step-sister to Prosecco’s Cinderella, looking on while Italy’s flavour-of-the-decade fizz goes from strength to strength.

Halloween: spooktacular opportunities for drinks

Think Halloween is just for children and Americans? Think again. As the spookiest season of the year approaches, eerie events, terrifying tours and frightening festivals are creeping up all over the country — and the potential to boost profits is petrifying.

Inspiring Independents: Amathus Soho

Bartending experience gained when he was an anthropology student propelled Nick Bell into the world of drinks retailing.

Shelf squeeze: what range rationalisation means for the drinks trade

Drinks companies are fighting hard to keep their products on supermarket shelves as grocers refocus on brands that are core to consumers in the BWS aisle.

Jewell vision: OLN profiles Wine Australia's UK head Laura Jewell MW

Laura Jewell has amassed a rare bank of knowledge over a 25-year career that has spanned wholesale to convenience and, of course, the mighty Tesco.

Portugal's wine – ready to shine?

Portugal has enjoyed a magnificent year in the consumer press and, after many a false dawn, it may finally be set for its time in the sun.

Small wonders: how to cash in on the on-trade's shooter trend

Liquid Cocaine, Blood Clot, Redheaded Slut, Screaming Nazi... this is not a list of emerging heavy metal bands, but just a few examples of the on-trade trend known as shooters.

It's oh so quiet: How to turn a night in into a big occasion

Everyone agrees the “big night in” is a big opportunity – but what exactly is it, how does it differ from a quiet night in, and how can retailers make the most of it?

Inspiring Independent: Le Vignoble

The Devon town of Plymouth was without a specialist wine merchant for 25 years before retailer and wine lounge Le Vignoble opened in 2012, according to its owner, Yannick Loué.

The face of wine is changing: how traditional agencies are rethinking their strategies

Supermarkets’ recent headline-grabbing range culls are just the latest in a long series of changes that have rocked the trade and forced suppliers to take a hard look at the way they do business.

Naked ambition: Oddbins and Majestic draw up battle lines

Competitive rivalry is one thing, but when it comes to Oddbins and Majestic the battle lines are more barbed than most, intensified by a series of public spats and showdowns.

Ben Hulme: The Lidl boy who grew up

"If you’d told me five years ago I would be in this position now I wouldn’t have believed you.” At just 27, Lidl UK’s head of beers, wines and spirits, Ben Hulme is by far the youngest person in OLN’s 100 Most Influential People In Wine list.

Hot spice: the lowdown on ginger drinks

There was a time a few years back when a week didn’t go by without a ginger- flavoured launch. The scene has quietened down a bit, but ginger has become a cocktail staple and suppliers say consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palates mean they are even more likely to favour the fiery root’s flavour.

British summertime: the best drinks to make the most of the season

Wimbledon, strawberries and cream, seaside staycations, cricket, festivals, sunshine and rain are all part of the delicious cocktail that is the Great British Summer.

Fighting spirit: what's happening in the world of spirit beers

It seems a little unfair to say the shine has gone off a category that is growing at a whopping 36% year on year – but there does seem to be less of a buzz around “speers” these days.

Inspiring Indies: Bristol Cider Shop

Five years after Peter Snowman (right) and Nick Davis opened the tiny shop under Snowman’s home in Bristol with a few crates of cider, a wing and a prayer, it is going from strength to strength.

Southern isle: Sicily charms the wine trade

While in the north Prosecco continues to make the Italian wine market fizz, at the southern end of Italy, people are getting excited about Sicily.

Going gloco: How glocalisation is working for vodka

It’s more than a decade since vodka staked its claim as the nation’s spirit of choice, ousting gin from the Office of National Statistics’ basket of goods used to measure consumer price inflation – and it has dominated the spirits market ever since.

Fruit shoots: what's next for fruit cider?

Sales flagging? Struggling to attract younger drinkers? Looking for a magic cure-all to revive your brand? We’ve got the answer: just add fruit.

Who's the daddy?

Fathers have a tough gig: burdened by long hours and no pay, they find themselves replaced in their marriages by 50 Shades of Grey, surrounded by toddlers that act like a blender without a lid and teenagers that steal their credit cards and pout a lot. 

Inspiring Independents: Lancaster Wine Company

The Lancaster Wine Company has been open just two years and has already chalked up one of OLN’s Drinks Retailing Awards – it was named Newcomer of the Year in 2014.

Wholesale changes

The pre-Christmas rush will have an extra level of hassle for suppliers and many drinks retailers this year. The government has chosen the last three months of the year to start implementing the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme. Any trade supplier or wholesaler of alcohol will have to apply to join the scheme between October 1 and December 31, even though it won’t come into full operation until 2017.

Put a lid on it: innovation in PBAs

There were 253 premium bottled ale launches in the past year (IRI) and a leading brewer has warned that too much innovation could damage the category.

Rosé wine: back in business

Spring has finally sprung, and the UK is bathing in temperatures 7°C above the April average thanks to a plume of hot air sweeping in from Spain.

New frontiers for world beer

World lager is flying off shelves, outperforming all other beer categories and emerging as the star performer.

Craft fare: can artisan cider copy beer's success?

Craft is the buzzword of our times. From Kirsty Allsop crocheting cushion covers on Channel 4 to artisan bakers and the thriving small-batch gin market, consumers are looking for all things handmade and homespun.

Inspiring independents: The Good Spirits Company

The Good Spirits Company makes a real specialism of spirits in its central Glasgow shop and its extensive and in-depth online range.

Rioja 'n' roll

Rioja is the rock star of the UK wine trade. Everyone knows its name, everyone rates its quality and it’s a chart-topper in terms of consumer awareness, better known than Marlborough in New Zealand and Barossa in Australia, and sitting  alongside Côtes du Rhône and Chianti in the top five best-known wine regions, according to Wine Intelligence.

England's finest

The British have bestowed many wonders upon the world: chocolate bars, penicillin, football, TV, the worldwide web, David Attenborough, cricket, bulldogs, the theories of Darwin and the plays of Shakespeare to name but a few.

Age of innovation

Diageo has launched a golden ale, a fruity cider and a white rum and now competes in virtually every BWS category imaginable.

When is enough enough?

The Responsibility Deal between the drinks industry and the UK government has come under fire from academics pouring scorn on the apparently successful pledge by the industry to strip a billion units from the market.

Long time coming

Following the opening of Brewdog’s first Bottledog outlet last year, news that Oddbins has unveiled a dedicated beer store in London lays open the possibility that we shall soon see national chains of beer shops, a scenario inconceivable when the idea of specialist beer retailing was pioneered four decades ago.

Steve Daniel: the legend continues

It’s generally accepted in the wine business that the current rebirth of Oddbins is a force for good. When people are expressing that opinion they’re prone to refer to a “golden age”, starting some time in the early 1980s and running well into the following decade. And when they do the name of Steve Daniel isn’t usually very far away.

Fairytale trending: the new-style German wine

Over the past decade German wine has shed its excess baggage like a celebrity on a fad diet, leaving behind the frumpy hausfrau image of the Liebfraumilch and Hock generation.

Name game: the Languedoc's new appellations

Rising prices have forced the Languedoc – the engine room of France’s bulk wine production – to look at more premium offers and establish itself as a top-quality wine region, not a bargain basement.