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Selling wine might appear to be more daunting than beer, but help is at hand Wine consumption is increasing at a greater rate than beer, spirits and...

Selling wine might appear to be more daunting than beer, but help is at hand

Wine consumption is increasing at a greater rate than beer, spirits and soft drinks, but it's the one category that many licensees are still struggling to understand.

Given its increasing importance, the pub companies are working hard to help their tenants and lessees make the most of the opportunity that wine presents.

Punch Taverns has just updated its annual wine list in a bid to make wine more accessible and help pubs capitalise on the sector's continuing growth.

The Wine List 2006-07 includes 360 different wines from around the world, each with their own tasting notes and codings, alongside tips and information on creating a new wine list from scratch.

Personalised wine menus

Claire Archer, Punch's category manager for non-beer items, said: "Our support package has everything a licensee needs to sell wine confidently and effectively. We can offer helpful information on grape varieties, countries of origin and which wines complement particular types of food. We can even provide free personalised wine menus for pubs placing regular orders.

"Our overall aim with wine is to provide retailers with a choice of superb products, which their customers are demanding, all at very competitive prices. In addition, there is plenty of factual support in the areas that underpin success in promoting and selling wine in pubs."

For retailers that don't currently sell wine, Archer suggests building up the offering slowly, starting with some of the single serve bottles "that guarantee freshness every time".

Serving from cabinet or font

"As volumes start to grow, retailers can try boxed wines from Stowells, which we will install free of charge as either a cabinet or font on the bar," she adds.

Another recommendation for retailers is to upsize their wine serve to 250ml glasses.

"Upsizing works for the consumer and the retailer," says Archer. "Research shows that people want their wine in a larger glass so they get the full benefit of the aroma, and the colour is shown to its best advantage.

"They can swirl the wine in the glass, drink it more easily and with greater pleasure, and get an overall perception of greater value for money. "For the retailer, upsizing is more profitable. We include a profit comparison in our wine brochure, which shows in black and white that 250ml servings can make on average up to £37 extra on a given product, per week, versus the standard 175ml option."

As pubs grow their wines, the next step is to move away from boxed wines to bottled and a complete wine list.

This is where Punch's Wine Options initiative comes in and matches a pub to one of a number of wine lists, according to their trading style and customer base.

Archer explains: "Wine Options is a proven range of successful wine lists that will work in different contexts. Retailers just need to consider the reasons customers choose to visit their pub and what sort of drinking experience they are looking for."

Time for Wine initiative

Greene King wine consultant and independent winegrower Tony Trembath has spent the past few months devising the pub group's new Time for Wine initiative.

There are six Time for Wine packages for licensees to choose from, according to the one that works best for them.

For example, option A is a selection of just three wines with broad appeal, including a medium white, a dry white and a fresh red, while the more diverse option D is better suited to a food-led business serving more adventurous customers. This list contains seven whites, five reds, one rosé and a sparkling wine.

"Perhaps the most important aspect of selling wine is to ensure the pub is wine-friendly," says Trembath.

"This means giving customers the confidence to purchase wine and this is easily achieved by ensuring that the wines on offer are fresh and visible to the eye, with clear pricing and description."

He has the following advice for licensees: "Introduce more New World wines and experiment through Wines of the Month chalkboards. If a wine becomes popular, it can be added to the main wine list.

"Licensees should also seriously consider trading up and selling better, more-expensive wines at a reasonable price, using cash margin rather than the normal percentage margin. This is a win for the customer and a win for the licensee, as sales and profit increase."

Punch's top tips for increasing wine sales

l Display wine creatively and prominently

l Let customers know what you have, not only behind the bar but also at tables,

via wine lists and around the pub on

blackboards. It's important to remember that a large percentage of wine drinkers won't even visit the bar

l Develop promotions. Keep them simple and appropriate for your target market.

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