The retailer is road-testing a number of new formats across four stores, including a fresh approach to emphasising a wine’s style.
Although wines are still divided into white or red and country of origin, Sainsbury’s has additionally categorised every wine into one of six styles, denoted by a coloured disc on shelf edges.
The three white wine categories are crisp and delicate, which is identified by a light green disc, soft and fruity (dark green), and complex and elegant (turquoise).
The reds are broken down into light and fruity, denoted by a red motif, smooth and mellow (purple), and rich and complex (blue).
Shelf edges also include a brief tasting description and a food-matching tip.
For example, Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Shiraz, which sits in the smooth and mellow category, has the recommendation to “try with peppered steak”, and crisp and delicate Makutu Bay Sauvignon Blanc is “perfect with herby pork sausages”.
The pilot labelling system is an extension of a wine style guide Sainsbury’s launched in November 2008 for its own-label wines.
The range was split into seven styles – four for white and three for red – with coloured stickers appearing on bottles and with screwcap closures in the corresponding colour.
In a further trial, rosé wines have been grouped together in a separate bay, each carrying simply a pink sticker or one which denotes either of the six styles, such as soft and fruity for Mateus Rosé.
Champagne and sparkling wine has also been housed in a separate unit, either with a grey sticker saying “sparkling”, or with one of the style profiles, such as soft and fruity for Valdo Prosecco.
A separate bay called Top Bottles features what Sainsbury’s hails as its bestselling wines, including Blossom Hill Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay and Piat d’Or Merlot.
Senior wine buyer Julian Dyer said: “We are looking at a range of options, whether that’s ranging by style or not. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t be right.
"We are trying to do different things around the fixture and range. We’ll be launching some game?-changing stuff later this year.”