In an exclusive interview with Tom van der Neut, Business Unit Controller at Lanchester Wines, we discuss the opportunity to make profitable adjustments to your wine list over the festive period.

The Christmas season signals parties and celebrations, a time for pushing the boat out and enhancing 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 or a Domaine Moutard Methode Traditionelle Blanc de Blancs suit the celebratory style, but without massively impacting budgets, making these ideal welcome drinks 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.

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. Not forgetting, of course, that Champagne is not just for Christmas.


Retrain staff on their wine range to encourage more upselling

Keeping staff abreast of your wine list throughout the entire year is key to wine sales, and this should be amplified in the run up to Christmas. You or your supplier should take time to taste through a handful of key wines with staff and discuss their merits, some food pairings and a few notes to create a short, interesting and profitable ‘story’ for the customer.

Regular staff wine training cultivates knowledge while instilling confidence and credibility when discussing and recommending wines – customers, more often than not, look to the server for guidance. Training enables your staff to speak about wine with authority and assists in building trust among customers. It also ensures your team feels invested in by the business.