Getting wine right is easy for publicans - it's just a matter of doing the simple things well.
Taste is central to the drinking experience of wine, and publicans need to consider how they will ensure that they will serve wine fresh and in perfect condition every time. There are a number of options for publicans to consider and many will choose more than one serving format in order to achieve the ideal solution for them:
- single serve bottles - typically 25cl, and now 17.5cl to match the most popular glass sizes, individual bottles offer the perfect solution for pubs with fewer wine sales as they are an easy, hassle-free way to deliver fresh wine. Single serve bottles are also attractive enough to encourage trial when experimenting with new brands or styles or working on a particular promotion.
- draught fonts - offer the convenience of fresh wine every time where speed and high volumes of wine by the glass are important
- draught cabinets - offer the same benefits as draught fonts with the added benefit of an increased number of wine styles available from the Stowells of Chelsea range. The cabinets themselves are also an attractive way to display as well as serve wine
- 75cl bottles - this format accounts for the majority of wine sales and is particularly suited to pubs serving food, though the opportunity exists to promote sales through people sharing a bottle of wine.
Another fundamental issue is to match the wines to the consumers that use the pub. This would seem obvious enough but in the GSJW research only one in four consumers said they were happy with the current wine offer in pubs.
Any type of outlet can build wine sales if they offer what their customers want. Important lessons from the GSJW research were:
- consumers want the reassurance of leading brands like Stowells of Chelsea or Lindemans, and
- consumers want New World wines as well as more traditional countries of origin, with Australia their top choice.
The correct storage of wine will vary depending on the dispense format, but is important - particularly for 75cl bottles - because it can:
- enable the wine to develop to its full potential as it "softens" in the bottle
- prevent premature ageing or oxidation
- preserve the label (for presentation purposes) and
- enable efficient stock ordering and rotation.
Getting service right
Here again the basics are simple - having selected a dispense format that will ensure that the wine is fresh every time, the wine should then be served at the right temperature and in a clean wine glass.
The size of the wine glass used is important. Consumers told the GSJW researchers that their preference was that the standard size for wine by the glass should be 175ml, with250ml for a large glass.
Providing customers with a "decent measure" offers them better value for money and means increased sales and less waste.
The evidence from the GSJW research is that consumers are more likely to buy wine in a pub if they have the confidence that wine is taken "seriously".
The prominence given to wine and the attitude and knowledge of staff will make a real difference as to whether your customers will have that confidence in your pub.
People will often seek guidance when selecting wine - at this point what your staff say and the enthusiasm they display will dictate whether you delight or disappoint your customer.
Suppliers can help Matthew Clark Wholesale, for example, will assist with educational sessions and wine-tastings for staff.
This guidance can extend beyond the education of staff to other means of communication in the pub.
Describing the wines you offer in language that your customers will understand, on blackboards, in wine lists and in menus when matching with food, will also demonstrate your commitment to wine and build sales.
With 85 per cent of the wine drinkers in the UK prepared to drink wine in pubs if the offering is right, there is a huge market of some 18 million people who want publicans to succeed with wine.
Those that are offering what consumers want have learned that keeping and serving wine is about good practice and understanding the basics of category management - and they are enjoying significant and profitable wine sales as a result.
Wine on the increase
Wine consumption in the UK is increasing, and it has been increasing for many years. With around 21 million people in the UK regularly drinking wine the opportunity is enormous. Though wine sales in the on-trade are growing faster than in the off-trade there is no reason to be complacent - there is still much to do to get it right.
To illustrate the gap, in the off-trade nearly 40p in every pound spent on alcohol is spent on wine, but the figure is just 10p in the on-trade.
As the market leader, Grants of St James's Wines (GSJW), the branded wine business of Matthew Clark, is working with the trade to improve the wine offering and increase sales. Having conducted significant research into consumer attitudes and preferences, GSJW has an unrivalled insight into what consumers want and how publicans can meet and exceed consumer expectations.
The answers are reassuringly simple - it is about covering the basics: understand your consumers, match the wine to their preferences and get the quality and service right.
Stowells of Chelsea
Stowells of Chelsea has invested significantly in consumer advertising. This communication has won acclaim and more importantly consumers have recognised the everyday drinking occasions when wine is enjoyed. It is also the first time that any wine brand has featured a pub setting for an advert.
Grants of St James's WinesSimon Russell: 01275 890351Chris Hewin: 01275 890439