Sainsbury's: still on top form

26 January, 2007

Sainsbury's drinks division proved it could remain at the top of its game after picking up another heap of awards. Not only was it Supermarket of the Year at OLN's Drinks Retailing Awards in February, it won the most gold medals of any supermarket at the International Wine Challenge.

Celebrations continued at Christmas when sales of its Taste the ­Difference Vintage Champagne rocketed after the bubbly came top in Which? magazine's blind taste test.

The Taste the Difference brand was extended into wine , with 30 wines adopting the name as a replacement for the old Classic ­Selection fine wine label and, in September, another beer - a Franconian-style dark lager - was added to the same label's beer range (created with London's Meantime Brewery). The So Organic brand, already present in the wine category, was introduced to beer and spirits through a Fairtrade white rum and a West Country cider.

This year will see a revamp of the drinks department with new signage and layout and improved shelf-edge labels to help with customer education and service. Following a trial of the new look in three stores, there are plans to roll it out into others over the course of the year.

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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