The perfect time to embrace the vine

Special attention should be given to wine ranges in the coming weeks

Festive wine

WITH the weather worsening and the nights drawing in, it can only mean one thing: another Scottish winter is on the way.

And with the festive period fast-approaching, prudent operators’ thoughts will already have turned to how they can make the most of the busy month of December.

Wine is a good place to start.

The marketing of wine in the pub is the key to ensuring buoyant sales success.

As the category’s popularity continues to grow, suppliers say, with some careful consideration, operators can cash in this festive season – providing they give careful consideration to their range.

“Planning in advance is the key to a successful festive season and keeping things simple will pay dividends,” said Continental Wine & Food’s (CWF) wine development manager, Nick Tatham.

“The marketing and promotion of wine in the pub is the key to ensuring buoyant sales success.

“This process begins the moment the customer walks through the door and point of sale and promotional material have an important part to play.”

The importance of marketing was also highlighted by Leslie Somerville, Enotria & Coe’s director of sales in Scotland and the north east.

He said: “It’s vital to get the wines on show as customers do buy with their eyes; increase the listings available by the glass and with this increase the price points so there are more premium options.”

A team which is enthusiastic about the wines on offer is also important, said Somerville. “Get the staff enthused on the range through training and you will see a growth in sales – understanding food matching and up-selling is key,” he said.

As ever, partnering the right wine with dishes on the menu can have a positive impact on sales.

Somerville advised offering wine flights at a set price for busy times to help with stock management as well as “giving a great food and wine matching experience”.

The significance of pairing food with a corresponding wine was reinforced by Tatham of CWF, who said operators with a narrower knowledge of the category can still make appropriate pairings as there’s plenty information available – either from suppliers or the internet.

“Menus should always give wine matching suggestions; many people are afraid to ask advice for fear of betraying their ignorance or indeed of mispronouncing the names,” he said.

“A list of suggestions for each dish on a menu and brief descriptions of the wine will help address this.

“There is also the opportunity to match several courses within one meal, ie. aperitif, starter, main and pudding, for example.”

As some customers will change their drinks choices over the festive season, firms said operators should consider including some different wines on their lists.

Enotria & Coe’s Somerville observed that the Christmas period invariably sees a “resurgence of the French classic wines from Champagne, white Burgundy and Bordeaux”.

“We are also seeing growth across Italian wines like Barolo and Amarone as the value for money is so great – especially if you serve by the glass and utilise wine preservation systems.”

Festive favourite Prosecco is also expected to remain popular, said Tatham of CWF.

However, he predicted a move towards “the Brut style as more consumers look for Prosecco which is a little drier than the normal extra dry style which has been the biggest seller in recent years”.

There are now many excellent wines which are ideal for the autumn and winter seasons.

Also gaining traction amongst drinkers is the appassimento-style wine (made using overripe partially dried grapes), according to Tatham, who said: “Amarone is, of course, the grandfather of this style of winemaking and is the original and best.

“However, there are now many excellent wines offering great value for money available to operators, which are ideal for the autumn and winter seasons with their rich, warming fruit-driven style.”