Archive - September, 2009

A devilishly good day

A quick post to point you to the results of the fun wine and food experiment I helped to organise yesterday for Casillero del Diablo, the well known Chilean wine brand.

I’m always looking for interesting new ways brands can promote wine and reach out to new audiences, and when I had the opportunity to create an event for a wine brand like this I knew it could be amazing. The team at Cube put on a great event at The Kitchen run by Michelin-starred chef Thierry Laborde, and my role was to document, host and share some of that event with the wider world.

The event itself was really made a success by the three bloggers who were invited to taste the Casillero del Diablo wines and come up with dishes to match them – then cook them in time for a taste-off with the judges: winemaker Marcelo Papa, chef Thierry Laborde and Carol Emmas from Harpers. The three bloggers were Signe Johansen (@scandilicious), Linda Williams (@goodshoeday) and Louis Villard (@spiltwine).

I managed to use a whole range of ‘social’ tools on the day, but the star was really Posterous – an amazing tool for combining your event content. Check it out! Visit the site to see the videos (using Qik from my mobile), audio interview (using AudioBoo), photos (using Flickr) and the twitter stream (using ScribbleLive) – all toold you should definitely consider using too.

Enjoy!

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Spot the wine blog – updated

How would you like to share a glass of wine with 700 potential new readers of your wine blog?

The Wine Gang have offered me the opportunity to showcase a small number of UK bloggers at their upcoming The Wine Gang Christmas Fair on November 7th, 2009 at Vinopolis. In exchange for spreading the word about their event (which I would have done gladly) and a little blog building expertise, I am being given the opportunity to bring 3-5 bloggers along to the show with me to taste the wines and showcase wine blogging to a community of wine lovers.

The Blog Spot

I have a small area in the show where we can set up our laptops with free wifi (for us, not the general public I’m afraid), power and the space to speak to wine lovers about our blogs, our views on wine and what they can learn about wine from bloggers. This is called the ‘Blog Spot

I believe that this is a great opportunity for bloggers and readers;

  • Bloggers can meet their potential target audience and find out about what interests them, what sites they read (if any), what motivates their wine buying and what wine lovers really think of wine blogging. These blogs will be exhibiting alongside some of the biggest names in UK wine retail as well as distributors, brands and generic bodies. It is an amazing opportunity to create a brand new audience for your blog content
  • Wine consumers can learn what motivates bloggers to go to the efforts of maintaining a blog, usually for no reward (except appearing at wine tastings) and what their particular passion is. It is an easy way to find some great new sources of wine information to complement their own wine buying research and maybe even new friends to share experiences with.

Want to come along and feature your blog?

1. Who is eligible?

If you are based in the UK and write a blog on any topic, but include wine regularly (but not necessarily exclusively) then you qualify. This offer is open to wine bloggers, food bloggers, travel bloggers and anyone else who likes to talk about and share their thoughts on wine.

2. What do you need to do?

Create a post on your own blog in the next 10 days (published before midnight, Tuesday 6th October, 2009) on the subject of “Buy Smarter and Drink Better Wines” (The Wine Gang strapline). Interpret this as you like! You can write in your own style, in the context of your own blog and for your audience, even produce a video or any other format content, but we want to hear what YOU think about how consumers can learn more about wine and improve their appreciation of better wines.

Most importantly, you need to link back to this post and to the new The Wine Gang Live blog so I know that you have written it (it wouldn’t hurt to leave me a comment or notify me on twitter as well, just in case).

All participating posts will be read, and The Wine Gang and I will select from these the ‘best’ entries. Unfortunately I can’t give strict criteria as I want to leave you free to interpret the brief as widely as possible, but we are looking for creativity, a good sense of how wine appreciation can be improved and of course for those ideas that can encourage more people to enjoy wine, responsibly!

I will also try to feature as many as possible of these posts on The Wine Gang Live blog at: http://thewineganglive.com

Those selected will be notified before October the 12th so you can make plans to be at the show, but please put Saturday November 7th, 2009 in your diaries now!

I hope you agree that this is a fun and exciting opportunity for wine bloggers and wine blogging, and I look forward to reading your posts.

UPDATE 06/10/2009: Today was the deadline for submissions, but I have been too busy to remind people about it. I already have a number of candidates, but I would like to spread the word a little further, so I am extending the deadline to the end of this week (ending on Sunday 11th October). Due consideration will be given to those who did get their posts up for the original deadline, of course!

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Biodynamic tasting with BB&R

Tonight we taste three biodynamic wines from the Berry Bros & Rudd stable:

2007 Mâcon, Les Héretieres du Comte Lafon, Burgundy
2006 Vacqueyras, Garrigues, Domaine Montirius, Rhône
2006 L’As, Coteaux du Languedoc, Mas Conscience

I will be tasting these wines, led by @winematters, with a group in BB&R’s cellars in London and groups around the country. Check below for all the twitter details I know, and leave yours if I’ve missed you out.

We are using the platform at tastelive.com (put together by Bin Ends Wine and still developing all the cool features we need for interactive online tastings) so check it out and register there.

For a bit more information, check this video (apologies it got cut off, but twitvid failed me)

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Participants:
BB&R Cellars
@thirstforwine
@winematters
@gastro1
@cowfish
@laissezfare
@oliverthring
@digitalmaverick

London
@wine90
@thewinesleuth

Edinburgh
@madamevin
@whiteandred
@thefinewineman
@lintably

Isle of Wight
@benjamindyer
@MattandCat
@mark32i5b
@wighthandman

Around the country
@loudmouthman
@bigbluemeanie

A wine buying social experiment

Money coins
Image by CascadeAndSTAN via Flickr

A month ago I mentioned that I have been impressed by the potential of the wine newsletter sent by The Wine Gang. I am excited to say that I have done a deal with them for the Wine Conversation to give away 5 free subscriptions to their newsletter, worth £20 per year.

However, being an inquisitive and social chap, I thought I’d do it in my own way and seeing what we can learn from it.

My contention is that the best wine sites (& newsletters) need to balance learning with buying advice.

I believe that this newsletter, arranging its reviews not by style or region, but by retailer, makes it much easier to use it to buy better wines, and thus encourage subscribers to try new wines and even trade up with confidence. Most importantly, it can be used without making you change where you currently buy your wines (but you can).

So, here’s what I’m thinking (for stage 1): …

At £20 per year, the cost of the subscription works out to £1.67 per month

I’m looking for 5 people who would like to receive the newsletter (and browse the archives) of The Wine Gang (FREE), and all I ask is that you commit to answering this question: “how have you saved £1.67 (or more)“?

  • It could be that you know you spend £6.99 on a decent bottle of wine, but you find two worth £5.99 you really enjoyed drinking
  • It could be that you discover a wine you might have considered buying rated poorly, so you bought something else & saved that money?
  • It could be that you found a wine worthy of giving as a gift that cost less than you expected
  • Maybe it saved you buying another wine book (I hope not too many, they need love too)?
  • Or maybe it is something else … there must be other things worth £1.67
  • Or maybe you didn’t – and I’d like to know that too

I’d like to hear your thoughts (especially as this month they rated the wines of Majestic who just reduced their minimum purchase to 6 bottles). I’d love to know if YOU, wine drinkers, found value in this product. I’d like to share those experiences on this blog and on twitter.

Stage 2 will involve drinking some of your favourites together, maybe sharing the moment online, but I’ll save that for another day – but The Wine Gang are organising a Christmas Wine Tasting event so watch this space

So, who wants to test this out?

Leave me a comment below and I’ll see how many volunteers I get and the decide how to apportion the subscriptions.

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The case of Majestic’s big small announcement

I just heard via two sources on Twitter (isn’t it great?) that Majestic are about to radically change their business model and potentially make them an even greater player in the world of wine retailing.

Now Majestic’s minimum purchase it to be halved to only 6 bottles

Until now, Majestic required consumers to buy a minimum of 12 bottles at a time. Their “warehouse” model of large stores, plenty parking and knowledgable staff had  made them a favourite of keen wine drinkers.

However, the vast majority of UK wine drinkers do not buy 12 bottles at a time. Most buy 1 bottle for a specific evening, or maybe 2-3 if on a promotion. This made them a ‘specialist’ as opposed to a regular ‘wine shop’ in the minds of most consumers.

The theory has been that by buying in larger quantities, you could take advantage of more volume deals and get a better price overall for your wine. In practice I wonder quite how much better that price was unless you were really picking the promoted lines, but …

Despite targeting a relatively small number of wine drinkers, Majestic has been enormously successful in the last few years, especially if you compare them to their peers; Oddbins, Wine Rack/Threshers and pretty much any other high street wine retail name. It makes a BIG difference to have 1 customer walk into your shop and buy 12 bottles with an average price around £6-£8 and therefore spending £70-£100 instead of them walking out with a single bottle, no matter how expensive.

… spare a thought for the independent wine merchant struggling to survive

Now Majestic’s minimum purchase it to be halved to only 6 bottles. Clever, or crazy?

  • On one side, getting consumers to move up to buying 6 bottles is easier than jumping from 3 to 12.
  • It means that the wine consumer on a budget who already buys at Majestic might feel less guilty about going back to the store to “only” buy 6
  • Many modern flats do not have space for storing 12 bottles at a time (sad to say)
  • Majestic is obviously hoping that their “£2 off per bottle if you buy 2 or more” type discounts will encourage shoppers to buy more than 6 anyway (I always seemed to buy more than 12 I admit)

However, it risks upsetting the delicate balance they have achieved that has made them successful.

12 bottles was not a ‘legal’ requirement, at least not once you could mix & match your own. It was simply the business saying “you will buy 12 bottles or we won’t sell to you”.

People accepted that, in part because 12 bottles was a psychologically significant number (as the number of bottles in a standard case measure). How will consumers react to this being changed? Happy that it is now “only” 6? Or will they wonder why they have to buy 6 at all, and why they can’t just buy 3, or 1?

Also, I’m certain there were those who bought extra bottles to fill their 12 bottle quota. What happens to those purchases?

It is a bold move that will hopefully attract some of those customers who like wine and knew of Majestic but for whom 12 bottles and the thought of £75-a-visit were a substantial barrier.

Let’s also hope it encourages more consumers to make wine drinking a more planned activity.  A little research can make the appreciation of the wine so much greater.

Finally, spare a thought for the independent wine merchant struggling to survive in your town, village or high street. This potentially makes their life even harder, but maybe you could learn about new wines with Majestic’s offers and education, then go exploring the wines of smaller wineries and regions with the help of your local merchant?

Good luck in your wine adventures!

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