Tom van der Neut is Business Unit Controller at Lanchester Wines:
The festive period creates one of the simplest opportunities to make profitable adjustments to your wine list. The Christmas season signals parties and celebrations, a time for pushing the boat out and trading up from everyday drinks. Sparkling wine is the obvious addition to a wine list at Christmas, whether by the glass or by the bottle – perhaps a trade up on the size of bottle, to a magnum or even a jeroboam for extra special celebrations.
Thinking about something to fill the gap in the middle of your existing list of sparkling wines is wise for Christmas – many French or English sparklers fill this opportunity between Prosecco and Champagne perfectly. For example a bottle of London Cru Pinot Gris Sparkling Rose (grapes grown in West Sussex) or a Domaine Moutard Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs (made by a Champagne house in the Champagne style, but with grapes grown in Burgundy) suit the celebratory style, but without massively impacting budgets, making this an ideal welcome drink or toasting fizz.
Affordability and familiarity are always important at the pointy end of a well curated wine list. Consumers may well be watching the pennies this festive season, so in the same way you want to maximise those trading up, you still need to have the easy wins and great wines for those customers watching their budget. This doesn’t necessarily mean buying in an extremely cheap wine especially for that purpose – your flagship house wines should fill that gap already. Commoditising wine will only result in a poor customer experience.
You know your customers better than anyone, so create a Christmas wine list that directly suits their specific tastes – and likewise, if something isn’t working, change it. Perhaps even invite key customers to taste the wines with your merchant before listing. When exploring new ranges and you’ve pretty much confirmed your core list – so after your first or second consultation – it always works incredibly well to invite your top customers to an exclusive tasting of the wines before you finalise your selection. Thus giving your customers a sense of ownership with the festive wine list.
But of course the most important factor for any list at any time of the year is if you don’t list it, customers can’t buy it. By no means are we talking about tying up cash by buying cases and cases of premium wine, but just a small stockholding and a place on the list will be enough to maximise these opportunities when they arise. And, of course, Champagne is not just for Christmas.
For more information on Lanchester Wines and the wines mentioned in this feature, please visit www.lanchesterwines.co.uk