It’s almost that time of year again – English Wine Week 2019 is taking place between Sat 25th May – Sun 2nd June. During a week when it seems everyone’s shouting the same thing, we’ve come up with what we think are a few handy suggestions on how to stand out from the crowd.
It may well be the case that there’s no better time to celebrate English Wine – Vineyard plantings are up 160% over the last 10 years, with Wine becoming one of the fastest growing areas of the UK agricultural sector and winemakers becoming more adept at managing the unique challenges of the UK climate – but what can your business do to turn yet another wine-related ‘week’ into a sales (as well as oenological) success?
We spoke to our very own Collette O’Leary, winemaker at Henners Vineyard in East Sussex, about her thoughts on it all.
Don’t Play The ‘English’ Card
“English wine will not survive if it’s just pity purchase or a novelty purchase. People won’t come back and buy another bottle if the wine inside isn’t great.”
It seems like the obvious thing to do, right? – promote English wine because it’s… English! Everyone loves to feel they are supporting something that’s homegrown, but in the long run, we’re not doing English Wine any favours by going down this road. By all means lead with the ‘oh look, it’s English’ thing but why not also try emphasising to your customers that these are brilliant wines from an up-and-coming region that can, and do, compete with some of the best wines in the world? And oh look, it’s English too!
Try Before You Buy
“It’s obviously easier to sell it if your customers have had the chance to taste it first, because they become our best advocates spreading good reviews by word of mouth. Anything that allows people to try it by the glass rather than committing to a whole bottle is a great idea.”
The try before you buy concept isn’t a new one – it’s a proposition that’s worked really well for so many ‘hybrid’ wine merchants – but it continues to be a great idea. If you’re a merchant, you might consider having a couple of bottles of English wine on a ‘tasting stand’ during the week, allowing your customers to discover its quality, without parting with any money at all. For bars and restaurants, don’t be shy in terms of giving out tasters to tempt your guests. The wine certainly stack up so there’s more than reasonable chance that a taste will be enough to convince them to go for a glass or the bottle!
When It Comes To Sparkling Think Food
“People still see sparkling wine as an aperitif, but these wines go really well with food. Particularly seafood, scallops, lobster, oyster, etc.. So if people are thinking of doing any food pairings for a celebration these wines go really well with that, not just as an aperitif. They go particularly well with cheese, especially soft cheese because the acidity cuts through the fat and creaminess. We need to be creative about how people can enjoy these wines.”
This takes a little more organising, but what about an English wine and food pairing night for your customers? Failing that, Collette has just given you some solid pairing recommendations to share with potential English wine drinkers to get you thinking about new ways to position English sparkling wine within your own portfolios. English wine is more than just a patriotic replacement for Champagne: give it the platform it deserves!
While you’re here… why not check out our brand new Henners Native Grace still wines, landing this Summer?
Henners Native Grace Chardonnay 2018
Produced from 100% Chardonnay from rows 78-87, which were identified during ripening and harvest as having outstanding potential for still wine production, with excellent sugar levels, lower acidity levels and displaying wonderful classic Chardonnay fruit flavours including stone fruit, floral and citrus notes.
The Native Grace Rosé is a blend of 75% Pinot Meunier and 25% Pinot Noir with grapes chosen from selected vineyard blocks. Grapes were hand-harvested and Pinot Meunier grapes were loaded into the press and left to macerate overnight before being whole bunch pressed to obtain a beautiful, delicate, pink colour. The grapes were cool fermented in stainless steel, before undergoing malolactic fermentation.