WORTHY GRAPES: HOW SUPERMARKETS ARE BECOMING THE GO-TO FOR WINE

In 2018, research company Wine Intelligence asked 1000 New Zealand wine drinkers where they had purchased their wine in the past six months. Well over 90 percent said they had bought wine in a supermarket.

It’s happening – supermarkets are now taking top spot as the local wine shop. Specialty and award-winning wines are no longer just confined to corner wine and liquor shops, the category is carving out its own territory in supermarket aisles giving retailers the opportunity to not only lift their wine game and convenience for shoppers, but also boost their profits.

Previously, supermarkets were the go-to for those looking for a top drop for a low dollar and quality, today, supermarkets have extended their offerings and shelf space to include award-winning and premium wines. This comes as consumers are becoming more self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs wanting varied options and distinctive tastes wrapped up at an affordable price point, and the convenience of being available at their local supermarket.

Myths about supermarket wines include that they only have simple, boring and basic wine offerings, prices are low, and there is no one to guide and give advice on which wine to purchase.

The recent New World Wine Awards saw Matthew Mullins, store manager at New World Newlands become a steward of the awards in a bid to give more team members opportunities to learn more about wine and the retailers’ customer base. “It was a real eye-opener to see what goes into this event as we don’t generally see that side of it working in our stores,” said Mullins. “The integrity of the process is amazing and it ensures that the wines selected really are the best of the best.” The awards provide a reliable mark of quality and assist shoppers in their decision-making. “Any team member in any of our stores, no matter their role or experience with wine, can make a confident recommendation and know wholeheartedly that the customer is getting a top wine at a great price.”

Matthew Mullins, Store Manager, New World Newlands

Retailers aren’t just thriving as wine vendors, according to Nielsen, they are enticing bigger basket sales in the process. “For example, the average consumer spends $47 per trip to the supermarket when they don’t make a wine purchase,” it states in a Nielsen report. “That amount, however, jumps to $75 when the shopper buys wine. Interestingly, the additional $28 isn’t just for wine. In fact, the wine accounts for only about $15. The consumer spends the rest on items that typically pair well with wine, suggesting that selling wine not only diversifies supermarket offerings but goes hand-in-hand with additional sales in the process.”

At this years’ New World Wine Awards, rosé reigned supreme and shows no signs of slowing. Nine rosé wines, including seven still and two sparkling, earned a place in the highly anticipated New World Wine Awards Top 50, and more than 70 rosé wines won a medal in the competition overall.

“This was a phenomenal year for rosé, and one that broke every record in our book,” said chair of judges Jim Harré. “Not only did we receive more rosé entries than ever before – with 110 wines from all over the world, the quality was exceptional, earning the most medals for rosé in the awards’ history.”

Chair of Judges Jim Harré at the 2019 New World Wine Awards

Harré believes this is due to the consumers’ love for rosé continuing to be strong, and that winemakers are responding to that demand. Once seen by many as a passing trend, winemakers now grow and pick their grapes specifically to make rosé and are creating some truly winning wines.

Te Hana Rosé was named the Champion Sparkling wine, a class which also included the Lindauer Classic Rosé among its winners.

A recent study in the USA revealed that although sparkling wine consumption is declining, highly motivated Millennials entering the market are bringing new opportunities.

Wine Intelligence reports found that sparkling wine continues to be an alcoholic beverage associated with special occasions and celebrations. Aside from the challenges to change this, the key focus is on the Millennial consumers who are rapidly becoming the main consumers of sparkling wine. Involvement levels with sparkling wine have been boosted by these motivated Millennials, who are highly involved in the category and more open-minded about their sparkling wine choices.

According to UK retailer Waitrose, the future also lies in alcohol-free drinks, orange wine, personalised spirits and refillable beer bottles which could become the norm. “We’re seeing a market change in attitudes towards drinks,” said Pierpalo Petrassi MW, partner and head of beers wines, spirits and soft drinks at Waitrose. “Many people have a broader repertoire than ever before, and think carefully about what they’re drinking, looking for an experience and a sense of the occasion, company or season.”

Waitrose Beer on Tap

It’s not just about the alcohol, with Waitrose identifying a subtle shift in how people view their evening drink, with the focus more on flavour. “This trend is partly due to prioritising health, but also thanks to non-alcoholic mixers that are innovating and moving upmarket.”

Both Waitrose and New World identify that consumers have a new-found love affair with all things pink and the aisles have seen an explosion of colour.

“Rosé is a style of wine that can be made from many different types of grapes, from many different regions – perhaps that is what makes it so exciting. It is also a really approachable wine, and this year there are lots of great options to choose from,” said Harré.