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Giles Cooke MW, marketing director at Alliance Wine

Published:  11 August, 2011

Giles Cooke MW, marketing director at Alliance Wine, blogs on the on-trade opportunities in selling wines by the glass.

Paradoxically, we believe that there are opportunities to up-sell, create more choice and "theatre" in the on-trade by increasing the range of by the glass even in the most gloomy of economic times. The evidence is there to show that during tough times, businesses both in the on-trade and in retail, that convince the consumer that they have their best interests at heart continue to flourish whilst those that stagnate and "hang on" simply flounder.


It's not an option to just keep ramping up the gross profit requirement so operators need to be more creative and improving breadth and reach of the by the glass programme is one of the most effective ways to do this. Those willing to take a lower GP but a higher cash margin and in the process offer their customers a special experience will be rewarded with return business, improved stock turnover, cleaner cash flows - not to mention the theatre and excitement of letting customers try something that they might not usually go for.


Genuinely fine wine is so much more accessible now with the advent and increasing use of preservation systems and in times when people may be reluctant to splurge the cash on a whole bottle, it offers the wine lover a chance to try a great wine at a price that they can justify. As prices of fine Bordeaux continue to look out of the reach of mortals, this style of service might be one of the few times when we get to taste these wines.


By the glass with genuinely fine wine is more relevant to London as it continues to exist within something of its own economic bubble but the lessons to be learned are relevant to all sectors of the trade and whilst it may not be commerically prudent to be opening bottles of First Growth Bordeaux in fast moving bar/restaurant environments, there is still much that can be done to encourage operators and, in turn, consumers to choose more premium wines by the glass.


Alliance is also rolling out carafe programmes that takes this concept a step further and allows the consumer to not only try wines from a wider, deeper range but also to share each wine - thereby increasing the theatre, showing a more responsbile attitude to alcohol consumption and improving average sale and cash margins.


Like the relationship between haute couture and high street fashion, fine wine by the glass may not be relevant to all but the most wealthy, but the lessons learned and mechanics used will filter down into the mainstream on-trade in a format which hopefully adds variety and genuine choice whilst being beneficial to wine producer, wine distributor, on trade operator and consumer - there is no downside.