The Grapevine

Luke Richardson is the sommelier at wine bar Le Di-Vin in Edinburgh. In his column for SLTN he shares his thoughts on all things wine-related and answers your questions about wine. If you have a question for Luke email it to

Hello again all!

Following on from my last column, I thought this time I would look at other ways to improve sales and cashflow for when we can all finally return to serving.

Last time, I talked about listing a premium offering of one of the zeitgeist grape varieties, Malbec and Viognier, to give your customers the option to splash out a little to celebrate a return to normality.

This time, I thought that some suggestions for other wines to list might be helpful.

In between the lockdowns, we noticed that sales in the wine bar were, on average, a little higher and we saw that we were selling slightly more premium wines. People that would normally enjoy a fairly versatile but cost-effective Chilean Sauvignon Blanc were buying the occasional bottle of Sancerre, or Prosecco drinkers the odd bottle of Champagne. In my opinion, it would be worth talking to your suppliers to see if they have any deals on these slightly more premium wines, as traditionally they take a while longer to shift, and currently I imagine that there is a lot of stock sitting on shelves – a good time to make a deal!

So, if your customer normally drinks New World Sauvignon Blanc, a good ‘upgrade’ would be either a Sancerre or a Pouilly Fumé. If you were after a bit more accessible fruit, then maybe a Menetou-Salon from just over the other side of the Loire Valley.

If the customer prefers an unoaked Chardonnay, then Chablis is an easy up-sell, but also a really good Soave from someone like Pieropan would also deliver good citrus minerality.

If they prefer a little oak in their Chardonnay, one step up would be the wines of Limoux – generally very high quality for the price and, more often than not, using old oak for a softer flavour profile. Another slightly more premium offering would be a Saint Aubin Blanc from Burgundy – this commune loops around the back of both Puligny- and Chassagne- Montrachet, some of the most sought-after Chardonnay land in the whole world, and stylistically the wines are halfway between the taut and crisp style of Puligny and the rich and generous style of Chassagne. My suggestion would be to ask for these wines on SOR (sale or return) if you have a concern about moving them on in a timely fashion.

Once we’re allowed to return, the aim of the game will be to inject as high a cashflow as possible into our businesses. There are plenty more options so I’ll continue next time!

In the meantime, happy researching!