Stocking a range of unusual, lesser-known wines could pay off for licensees this summer, according to some of Scotland’s biggest wine wholesalers.
While popular and well-established grape varieties are expected to continue to prove popular in Scotland’s bars and pubs in the coming months, suppliers said that consumers are increasingly looking for something new and different from their wine.
Amy Ledger, marketing manager at Continental Wine & Food (CWF), said the firm has been “starting to see a little more experimentation with wine choices”, adding that “consumers are more willing to try something different within their price range”.
Ledger pointed to wines such as Barbera from Piemonte, which she said has “emerged from the shadows of Barolo and Barbaresco” as a potentially popular choice this year, as well as Fiano and Falanghina from the south of Italy.
“The rich ripe fruit makes them perfect partners for many dishes with cheese and with shellfish,” she said.
Lighter varietals such as Verdejo, Petit Manseng and Grenache Blanc could also be worth investigating, according to Toby Sigouin, wine buyer at Inverarity Morton.
“Consumers are finally turning their backs on the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio and other familiar varietals and really do want to find diversity and interest in the wines they are drinking,” said Sigouin.
And while popular wines such as Prosecco and Sauvignon Blanc are likely to remain big sellers this summer, David Sutherland, managing director of Sutherland Bros, said he expected to see “an increasing interest in more unusual white grape varieties such as Albarino, Gavi and Vinho Verde”.
With the lower drink drive limit continuing to impact trade across Scotland, licensees have been advised to consider stocking at least one non-alcoholic wine.
Dan Harwood, brand activation manager for alcohol-free wine Eisberg, said the category has grown 44% in value terms in the course of the past year.
“People choosing not to drink alcohol don’t stop socialising or seeing friends,” said Harwood.
“As a result, non-drinkers are looking for an alternative that helps them feel part of social occasions.”
Of course, customers are unlikely to order a new or unusual wine if they don’t know the outlet is stocking it.
Ledger, at CWF, stressed the importance of communicating the full range of wine on offer to customers.
“The marketing and promotion of wine in the pub is the key to ensuring buoyant sales success,” she said.
“This process begins the moment the customer walks through the door and point of sale and promotional material have an important part to play.”
Ledger recommended activity such as a ‘wine of the week’ promotion, or offering to match wine with food, as two ways to promote different wines in an outlet.
The presentation of the wine list itself can also make a big difference to which wines customers are ordering.
Sutherland, at Sutherland Bros, said:
“Move away from the traditional wine list layout of white wines, red wines followed by rose and sparkling with traditional boring tasting notes.
“Move towards a more stylistic wine list with simple, short tasting notes which the consumer can relate to.”
If in doubt, a conversation with their wholesaler can help a licensee to make sure they have their wine offer right, according to Sigouin, at Inverarity Morton.
“Speak to your account manager and give them as much information as you can in terms of your customer profile, average spend and food offer,” he said.
“From there they should be able to prepare a wine list that suits the place, the clientele and the menu and hits the right price point.”