The supermarket has introduced tasting areas into wine aisles where customers can buy a glass of wine along with boards of cheese, meat and bread.
The concept originally trialled in Aylesbury, Kingston and Cambridge, then was tweaked and introduced in 12 more shops this spring.
Buyer Nick Room told OLN: “The initial feedback is good and has encouraged us to extend it out. We have big ideas as far as that goes.”
Waitrose has also overhauled its wine range, including growing its mid-tier own-label, and expanding its Spanish offer.
The supermarket has cut back some of its South American lines to make room – including wines from Argentina and Uruguay. It has also cut out single facings “to make sure customers can see the wines” and improved POS and signage.
“We are trying to make it easier for customers to shop,” said Room. “The wall of wine, as it is often called, is a very difficult way for people to navigate and we are trying to give them better pointers. It’s not revolutionary, more a way of enhancing what we have already done.”
Waitrose Provence Rosé (£9.29), a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault from Côtes de Provence, has joined a mid-tier own-label range of about 18 wines priced from £7.99-£9.49.
The range started out with benchmark wines such as Rioja, Bordeaux and Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, but the retailer is now looking to expand with some more unusual listings, such as a Hungarian Pinot Grigio and a Romanian Pinot Noir.
Buyer Nick Room told OLN: “There is the opportunity with this mid-tier range to push the boat out a little bit to areas which aren’t that well known and that gives us the licence to do something a bit different. If it has got our name on it it encourages people to try it.”
The mid-tier range sits between Waitrose’s entry-level own-label and higher-end In Partnership With, which can go up to £30. The supermarket has also expanded its food own-label Seriously into dessert wines, with Seriously Peachy from Waitrose Pacherenc du Vic Bihl 2012 Madiran (£10.99 for 37.5cl).
Waitrose has also expanded its Spanish range with 10 new lines – including Pedra Viva 2013 Priorat (£10.99), Centellito del Sur Syrah 2013 Jumilla (£7.99) and Waitrose brand Viña Taboexa Albariño 2013 Rìas Baixas (£9.49).
Buyer Nick Room said: “Spain has been seen as a growth area – it did very well with us last year. We’ve taken a brave appraoch and listed a few things that are slightly top-end in terms of shelf pricing, but nevertheless are very good benchmarks.”
The retailer has also introduced an own-label medium-sweet white wine from Galicia priced at £4.99, in line with a trend towards sweeter styles at entry point.