Inspiring Indies: Bier Huis

09 November, 2015

Former TV executive David Jones opened his beer shop in the West Yorkshire town of Ossett in November 2011, with the aim of giving beer fans a go-to store for northern brews where they could park easily.

With 2,600 shops across the UK, each designed to cater for its local market and be a community hub, Spar’s trading managers for wine, Nick Jones and Daphne Teremetz, have got their work cut out.

Many of the biggest names in BWS started at the bottom. They explain why it is so important to nurture new talent. Christine Boggis reports

Beer: Cheers to Brazil

06 November, 2015

Not everything is quite what it seems. Sitting at a terrace table, taking in mountain views, surrounded by thesort of buildings you see dripping with snow on Christmas cards, it would be easy to think you were in Switzerland or southern Germany. The truth is you are some 6,000 miles away. This is not alpine Europe but Latin America, more precisely a town in Brazil just a couple of hours’ drive from the teeming metropolis of São Paulo.

Sparkling Wine: Bubbling Under

06 November, 2015

The juggernaut of fizzy popularity that is Prosecco is having another good year.

In the enlightened society we live in, it goes without saying that we want our wines to be made by happy, decently paid workers living in sustainable communities where their children can be educated and they get the health and social care they need. Or does it?

There’s no denying the seismic effects Aldi’s inexorable rise – and its growing focus on wine – have had on drinks retailing in general and the big four supermarkets in particular.

It would be overstating things to suggest that Conviviality Retail’s acquisition of Matthew Clark is a game-changer for the drinks industry, but there’s no question that it has catapulted the company previously known only as the owner of Bargain Booze and related brands into a new era.

Satirical website the Daily Mash has invented a spoof academy, the Institute for Studies, to provide expert comment for its fictional reports. It probably wasn’t inspired by the Institute for Alcohol Studies, but it does say something about the media’s craving for a white-coated boffin to shore up their stories.

As the economy finds its feet again and UK consumers start to loosen their purse strings a little, drinks suppliers and retailers are looking forward to an exciting Christmas, with fingers crossed all round for bumper sales.

At Christmas, one must quote Cliff Richard. And as Sir Cliff so correctly informed us in his 1988 number one Mistletoe & Wine, “it’s a time for giving”.

The forecast is in – and it looks like the cider market is going to be cloudy this autumn.

Vermouth: A Bond Revived

08 October, 2015

Shaken or stirred, vermouth is the drink to be seen with this season.

Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” Those were the immortal words of Doc Brown to Marty McFly, as he powered up the flux capacitor and headed from 1985 to October 21, 2015, in Back to the Future Part II.

Sales of premium wine are soaring in multiple grocers and struggling convenience stores are in danger of being left behind, new data has revealed.

Restraint is not a word readily associated with the USA, the land of Man v Food, Muscle Beach and skyscrapers galore.

What about Cava?

10 September, 2015

The past few years have seen Cava passed over like the ugly step-sister to Prosecco’s Cinderella, looking on while Italy’s flavour-of-the-decade fizz goes from strength to strength.

Think Halloween is just for children and Americans? Think again. As the spookiest season of the year approaches, eerie events, terrifying tours and frightening festivals are creeping up all over the country — and the potential to boost profits is petrifying.

Bartending experience gained when he was an anthropology student propelled Nick Bell into the world of drinks retailing.

Drinks companies are fighting hard to keep their products on supermarket shelves as grocers refocus on brands that are core to consumers in the BWS aisle.

Laura Jewell has amassed a rare bank of knowledge over a 25-year career that has spanned wholesale to convenience and, of course, the mighty Tesco.

Portugal has enjoyed a magnificent year in the consumer press and, after many a false dawn, it may finally be set for its time in the sun.

Liquid Cocaine, Blood Clot, Redheaded Slut, Screaming Nazi... this is not a list of emerging heavy metal bands, but just a few examples of the on-trade trend known as shooters.

Everyone agrees the “big night in” is a big opportunity – but what exactly is it, how does it differ from a quiet night in, and how can retailers make the most of it?

The Devon town of Plymouth was without a specialist wine merchant for 25 years before retailer and wine lounge Le Vignoble opened in 2012, according to its owner, Yannick Loué.

Supermarkets’ recent headline-grabbing range culls are just the latest in a long series of changes that have rocked the trade and forced suppliers to take a hard look at the way they do business.

Competitive rivalry is one thing, but when it comes to Oddbins and Majestic the battle lines are more barbed than most, intensified by a series of public spats and showdowns.

"If you’d told me five years ago I would be in this position now I wouldn’t have believed you.” At just 27, Lidl UK’s head of beers, wines and spirits, Ben Hulme is by far the youngest person in OLN’s 100 Most Influential People In Wine list.

There was a time a few years back when a week didn’t go by without a ginger- flavoured launch. The scene has quietened down a bit, but ginger has become a cocktail staple and suppliers say consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palates mean they are even more likely to favour the fiery root’s flavour.

Wimbledon, strawberries and cream, seaside staycations, cricket, festivals, sunshine and rain are all part of the delicious cocktail that is the Great British Summer.

It seems a little unfair to say the shine has gone off a category that is growing at a whopping 36% year on year – but there does seem to be less of a buzz around “speers” these days.

Five years after Peter Snowman (right) and Nick Davis opened the tiny shop under Snowman’s home in Bristol with a few crates of cider, a wing and a prayer, it is going from strength to strength.

While in the north Prosecco continues to make the Italian wine market fizz, at the southern end of Italy, people are getting excited about Sicily.

It’s more than a decade since vodka staked its claim as the nation’s spirit of choice, ousting gin from the Office of National Statistics’ basket of goods used to measure consumer price inflation – and it has dominated the spirits market ever since.

Sales flagging? Struggling to attract younger drinkers? Looking for a magic cure-all to revive your brand? We’ve got the answer: just add fruit.

Who's the daddy?

18 June, 2015

Fathers have a tough gig: burdened by long hours and no pay, they find themselves replaced in their marriages by 50 Shades of Grey, surrounded by toddlers that act like a blender without a lid and teenagers that steal their credit cards and pout a lot. 

The Lancaster Wine Company has been open just two years and has already chalked up one of OLN’s Drinks Retailing Awards – it was named Newcomer of the Year in 2014.

Wholesale changes

17 April, 2015

The pre-Christmas rush will have an extra level of hassle for suppliers and many drinks retailers this year. The government has chosen the last three months of the year to start implementing the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme. Any trade supplier or wholesaler of alcohol will have to apply to join the scheme between October 1 and December 31, even though it won’t come into full operation until 2017.

There were 253 premium bottled ale launches in the past year (IRI) and a leading brewer has warned that too much innovation could damage the category.

Spring has finally sprung, and the UK is bathing in temperatures 7°C above the April average thanks to a plume of hot air sweeping in from Spain.

World lager is flying off shelves, outperforming all other beer categories and emerging as the star performer.

Craft is the buzzword of our times. From Kirsty Allsop crocheting cushion covers on Channel 4 to artisan bakers and the thriving small-batch gin market, consumers are looking for all things handmade and homespun.

The Good Spirits Company makes a real specialism of spirits in its central Glasgow shop and its extensive and in-depth online range.

Rioja 'n' roll

10 April, 2015

Rioja is the rock star of the UK wine trade. Everyone knows its name, everyone rates its quality and it’s a chart-topper in terms of consumer awareness, better known than Marlborough in New Zealand and Barossa in Australia, and sitting  alongside Côtes du Rhône and Chianti in the top five best-known wine regions, according to Wine Intelligence.

England's finest

10 April, 2015

The British have bestowed many wonders upon the world: chocolate bars, penicillin, football, TV, the worldwide web, David Attenborough, cricket, bulldogs, the theories of Darwin and the plays of Shakespeare to name but a few.

Age of innovation

07 April, 2015

Diageo has launched a golden ale, a fruity cider and a white rum and now competes in virtually every BWS category imaginable.

When is enough enough?

07 April, 2015

The Responsibility Deal between the drinks industry and the UK government has come under fire from academics pouring scorn on the apparently successful pledge by the industry to strip a billion units from the market.

Long time coming

07 April, 2015

Following the opening of Brewdog’s first Bottledog outlet last year, news that Oddbins has unveiled a dedicated beer store in London lays open the possibility that we shall soon see national chains of beer shops, a scenario inconceivable when the idea of specialist beer retailing was pioneered four decades ago.

It’s generally accepted in the wine business that the current rebirth of Oddbins is a force for good. When people are expressing that opinion they’re prone to refer to a “golden age”, starting some time in the early 1980s and running well into the following decade. And when they do the name of Steve Daniel isn’t usually very far away.

Over the past decade German wine has shed its excess baggage like a celebrity on a fad diet, leaving behind the frumpy hausfrau image of the Liebfraumilch and Hock generation.

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Breaking up with Burgundy

Making my way through the recent tranche of Burgundy tastings for the much-hyped 2015 vintage, I found myself experiencing a moment of guilt.


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