Merry time for quality wine

An on-trend wine list coupled with effective food pairing can boost sales

CHRISTMAS sees family and friends catching up and celebrating the festivities in the on-trade – and, with many of them likely to order a glass of wine or a bottle of fizz, operators would be wise to make sure their range covers all bases.

That was the view shared by wine suppliers, who told SLTN the right list can boost profits over the season.

“A good wine range offers licensees the opportunity to maximise their potential sales and broaden their audience, giving customers the chance to experience something new,” said Dan Harwood, head of wine education at Halewood Wines & Spirits.

“Operators should ensure their wine range is always tailored to the festive period due to the great opportunity that Christmas presents; lots more customers, all of whom are in the mood for a celebration.

“This means that offering more sparkling wines, such as Prosecco, will cater to an audience who feels like popping a cork or two – and therefore generate more sales.”

The popularity of Prosecco was also recognised by Andrew Nunney of Accolade Wines, who said its “sweeter taste and broad appeal” means it can drive sales for licensees.

But he also highlighted the opportunity to bolster wine sales with effective food pairings. He said: “Publicans should offer a selection of wines that pair well with their Christmas menus.

“Similarly, licensees should signpost sensible wine pairings on the food menu. For example, meats traditionally eaten at Christmas lunch pair well with full-bodied reds such as Kumala Reserve Malbec, or lighter fish dishes, such as traditional Christmas prawn cocktail, pair well with Mud House New Zealand Sauvignon.”

Beyond food pairings, Nunney advised operators to aim for “simplicity and breadth”.

“Focus on the most-loved styles and a tiered approach to satisfy different occasions and consumer tastes,” he said, adding, “operators should offer wine by the glass, especially during the festive period”.

“This will help engage customers who previously may not have chosen wine when ordering,” he said.

Ultimately, however, preparation is crucial, reckons Amy Giacobbi of Continental Wine & Food.

“Planning in advance is the key to a successful festive season and keeping things simple will pay dividends,” she said.

Giacobbi stressed that the trade must be prepared “for this increase in footfall in terms of staff, stock and efficiency”, warning that customers will be put off by long waiting times.