We are fast becoming a nation of wine drinkers: while wine sales have risen by 60% in the last ten years, the UK has become the second largest importer of wines in Europe. It’s a trend which seems to be here to stay – with more and more of us opting for the grape over the grain.
Many drinks-sellers have already sought to follow the trend, branching out into selling wines or bringing more variety to their current bottle-offerings, all in the hopes of drawing ever more punters through their doors and persuading them to swap pints for glasses of red or white.
If you’re looking to join those trendy businesses, and capitalize on the changing tastes of your customers, here are five top tips to get you started, and get your business dedicated to the love of wine.
Know Your Market
As with any business plan, you’ll need to know who you’re going to be selling your product to.
Figuring out who will want your wines can be particularly easy if your business is already up and running. Simply have a look around when your bar or shop is bustling and think about the kinds of people who are drawn in by the appeal of your business as it is.
Then, when you’ve figured out who your core customers are, have a look around your local area for businesses doing something similar – pubs or other wine bars with slightly different aesthetics and slightly different USPs. Think about who is being drawn to those other businesses who you never see walking through your doors, and consider how you could re-shape your shop or bar to capture their custom.
Thinking like this, you’ll get to know what is working with your business – which products are selling well to who – and what could work better – which products you could be selling to the rest.
If you don’t have the bricks and mortar yet, work with what you do have. Get to know the areas you are looking to settle down in, visit its pubs and bars and bottle shops and get to know what and how much the locals buy and drink. After a few conversations with the right people, you might just find a you-sized gap in the market.
Cater for all budgets
Once you’re confident that you know your local market – what will sell to who in the local community – think about the money that your customer base is willing to spend on one of your bottles or glasses of wine.
Everyone likes to splash out once in a while so stocking some bottles of fizz will, of course, be a good idea – with some premium quality for those extra-special occasions. But bear in mind that not everyone can afford a bottle of the best every week.
As you tailor your price range, keep in mind that it will need to be inclusive – offering something to every one of your potential customers. Perhaps you’ll have a greater range of under £10 bottles to cater to local students’ sophisticated pre-drinks and perhaps you’ll need a range catering to the older generation– those with refined tastes who are willing to spend a little extra on finer flavours. The details will largely be down to the kind of people who you’ll be targeting – but, as long as you’re catering to a wide range of budgets, you’ll be on the right track.
Learn the basics of wine pairing
If you’re looking to give your wine business a boost, there’s nothing like coming up with a few innovative foods and wine pairings. Showing that you know how best to enjoy your own wines can be a great way to impress your customers, get them enthused with the ways of wine and get them coming right back through your doors on a regular basis.
Figuring out which wines to pair with which foods can, of course, be daunting, but pairing is really only a case of sitting down and enjoying some great food and drink.
As you sip and chew, figure out the flavours at play in your wines and think of which food flavours might compliment or, perhaps, clash with those earthy tones or floral hints. Once you’ve got an idea, try it out – there’s no harm in a little experimentation.
Be prepared to break the guiding rules – such as pairing sweet wines with sweet food. The best pairings can be those which best reflect your own personal tastes.
Keep on Learning
As you grow your wine-selling operation, don’t worry if you feel out of your depth. It can take years for a sommelier, or wine steward, to gain a masterful knowledge of the wines they sell – and many never stop learning.
Immerse yourself in the language and you’ll soon have it off by heart – you’ll soon know your wine from its nose to its legs, understand its bouquet, its body and its balance with a single sip and be able to recommend a bottle based on the tang of its tannins.
As you build your knowledge and become able to offer up ever better opinions on various bottles to your customers, you may just find yourself and your shop or bar becoming a fixture of your high street.
Invest in a Quality Wine Cooler
There’s a lot to think about when storing wines.
To retain their flavour, wines need to be kept at just the right temperature with little or no fluctuations. A little below room temperature and a little above the temperature of a typical refrigerator is the range to aim for, with individual ideals varying dependant on the type of wine in question: Champagne and sparkling wines want to be stored at 7C, while Rosé can handle 12C and a Port or Madeira is best served at 19C.
Then there’s humidity and light. If conditions are too dry, your corks could dry out and allow your wines to oxidize and become spoilt. If your bottles are exposed to too much UV, certain phenolic compounds in your wines might react and ruin the taste.
Luckily, investing in a good quality commercial wine cooler will make your life much easier.
Well equipped to maintain steady temperatures within the ideal wine-storage range, a commercial wine cooler is often also equipped with humidity controls and doors which protect your bottles from harmful UV light.
They are a must-buy for any business looking to get serious about wines. Make sure you make the right choice and invest in the perfect wine fridge for your business today.