When I first gained an off license in 1997 I didn’t know very much about wine, but I did have a former director Peter Dominic as a customer. He gave me a great deal of encouragement when it came to building our range and how to manage the display of bottles with cork closures. He even lent me the Peter Dominic guide to selling wine. So reading what a retailer with 30 years experience has to say is interesting to say the least.

“I have no idea about wine. I can sell it up to a certain price bracket, but after that we are confused about what to do with it.” 

For convenience store operators understanding wine beyond the basic range and promotions is a challenge. So many grapes, so many styles, so many countries and so many reasons that customers have for buying something better than the £5 or £6 bottle.

I found that I needed to significantly improve my knowledge of the wines we stocked, a tough task having to regularly taste a bottle of wine. I also joined a local wine club where each month I and 60 plus other people who were interested in the product of the vine would taste 6 to 8 related wines. These tastings were tutored by wine educators, specialist retailers or Masters of Wine. The big learn for me though was understanding the reaction of the other members of the club. With almost every wine we tried a third would like it and a third wouldn’t, a very helpful piece of market intelligence.

A regular question I was asked was about which wine would go with a particular meal. A useful app to help is Plonk. It covers the types grapes, wines, food matching and much else. Another interesting website is Wine Pages and their wine appreciation course is worth investigating.

Stocking and selling higher priced wine is about the knowledge and confidence gained from learning about this most enjoyable product category. I do have a happy journey!