IF operators haven’t compiled their Christmas wine lists by now, they’d better get cracking.
The importance of planning festive wine offers early was emphasised by wine brands and suppliers last week as SLTN sought views on how to make the most of wine during the party season.
Not only will this give licensees the opportunity to stock up for the season, they advised, but the chance to create a list that offers consumers both choice and quality at various price points.
Wholesaler Continental Wine & Food (CWF) urged licensees to tap into the service offered by their suppliers in this regard.
“Your wine suppliers are there to help you assess your business and clientele and give constructive guidance with your wine choices,” said trading and marketing controller Vicky Lee.
“They have the latest information on what consumers are looking for at their fingertips which should further assist you with putting a wine list together.
“Be objective in your brief and they should support you with recommendations that can ensure your wine list hits all the right notes.
“For example, if you have a particular sale price of a wine by the glass or bottle in mind, together with a margin aspiration, calculate that back to the price you wish to pay for the bottle. This will save you a great deal of sourcing and selection time.”
It’s also worth mixing the list up a little at this time of year, according to Bill Roberts, general manager at E&J Gallo Winery, with consumers often in the mood to try something new.
“When considering a festive wine list, there are a few key ways to maximise sales and ensure there is something available for all tastes over the Christmas period,” he said.
“Plan your Christmas wine list well in advance and order early to make sure you have enough stock to see you through the Christmas period.
“Take this opportunity to refresh and revamp your wine list, adding new lines and omitting those that may not have sold well throughout the year. It is important that customers do not see the same offering time and again.”
Matthew Clark is offering similar advice, with wine development specialist Frances Bentley urging operators to consider laying on a shorter list than normal. “The festive wine list should be more concise than the standard wine list, offering a good selection of food friendly wines, Champagne and sparkling wines,” she said.
“The list should have a balance of red, white and sparkling wines. There should also be a rosé, dessert wine and Port selection as well.”
With the on-trade frequented at Christmas by consumers who don’t often visit pubs and restaurants at other times of the year, suppliers emphasised the role big brands can play. Lee James of Pernod Ricard, whose wines include Australia’s Jacob’s Creek and Campo Viejo from Spain, said branded wines offer “reassurance” to many people.
“Consumers will often default to a wine they know and trust when looking to impress friends or colleagues, or reduce potential embarrassment around the wine purchasing decision,” he said.
“Stock a range of premium branded wines to realise this profit opportunity at a time when your outlet is experiencing increased footfall.”
While brands may provide reassurance to some consumers, others will be looking to celebrate Christmas in traditional style – with Champagne or sparkling wines.
“Despite the difficult economic climate, consumers will continue to include Champagne in their repertoire this Christmas and New Year,” added James at PRUK, which owns the GH Mumm and Perrier Jouet brands.
“Figures show December sales accounted for 12% of total Champagne last year, and in the off-trade research into Christmas shopping habits reveals consumers view it as a fridge staple.
“Occasion is a key driver for purchasing behaviour and at this time of year shoppers report that they look for a bit of luxury and for wines to add to the occasion.”
Away from fizz, suppliers also said there was an opportunity for operators to boost sales by matching wine with dishes on festive menus.
“Food and wine matching is an effective tool that can be used to engage with customers around Christmas time,” said Roberts at Gallo.
“Recommending a pairing for each dish on your menu makes it much easier for customers to select a wine, and in turn they are more likely to purchase.”
Matthew Clark also acknowledged the potential in food and wine matching, but Bentley said it was also important that operators “feature wines which your customers enjoy throughout the year, but maybe a different brand”.
Bentley’s last word came on perhaps the single biggest issue facing wine buyers at the moment – price.
“Consumers have become price conscious over the last few years, so it is important to offer a good selection of price points on the menu, as well as wines to up-sell,” she said.
From stocking up to food matching, balancing lists to promoting fizz, there’s no shortage of factors operators must weigh up to ensure their festive list is a hit with consumers this year.
Christmas wine tips
Review your range and stock the right wines at the right prices.
Stock the best sellers – consumers will opt for well-known brands offering value for money.
CATER for different tastes, from sweet to dry, fruity to full-bodied.
OFFER light styles – some consumers will look for lower-strength wines at this time of year.
Source: Accolade Wines