The trouble with supermarket wine aisles….

Picture the scene, you’ve just turned out of aisle 9 tinned fruit and jams and next comes aisle 10 – wine, you want to buy a nice bottle of something to go along with Sunday lunch, so after negotiating your trolley ungracefully into position, what do you see ? usually there’s about half a dozen or so people staring blankly at the rows of bottles, maybe picking one up reading the back label then putting it in their trolley only to reach back a few seconds later and put it back on the shelf.

Supermarket wine aisles can be daunting to some especially those with little wine knowledge or experience who only want to find a reasonable bottle to drink with their evening meal. To others it’s just somewhere to pick up the cheapest bottle of red or white on offer not really caring where it comes from or what it is.

Quite often I get comments like ‘had a lovely bottle of wine last night’ and when I ask what it was they shrug and say ‘don’t know but it was red’, other comments I’ve had are along the lines ‘think it was Australian or was it French, not really sure but it tasted good’ Now there’s nothing wrong with this attitude they seemed quite happy but what happens if someone generally wants to pick a nice bottle instead of blindly picking the cheapest on the shelf. Many a time I’ve tried to help by suggesting an alternative or just steering them in the right direction, sometimes they’re grateful other times I see them go straight back to their original cheapest option.

This is where supermarkets could try a lot harder to help. All of the stores split their aisles into red, white, rose and sparkling and generally a section of shelving is divided into various countries, now this is where it needs improving. Most supermarkets already have a number rating for wines ranging from dry to sweet but why not in each country section have some basic information about typical grape varieties, maybe a map showing the different wine regions. For some of the popular bestsellers have a little write-up along side the bottles, this is all pretty basic stuff that would make the wine aisles a little more interesting or else you might as well have a row of bottles with blank labels.

Another little gripe of mine is the helpfulness of the assistants in the wine aisles, ok, I know that the person is not a wine expert and probably half the time doesn’t work in that particular aisle but I do expect a better response, as happened the other day to the question have you got anymore South African Chenin Blanc ‘dunno mate, hang on a minute’ then proceeded to look in the Australian section.

Listen I know it’s a supermarket and not a wine merchant/outlet but it’s where a lot of people buy their wines. A little more thought into giving a little more general wine information would definitely add to the supermarket wine buying experience.

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2 thoughts on “The trouble with supermarket wine aisles….

  1. Much like wine lists in restaurants, people shop for wine in supermarkets primarily by price – looking for the red or yellow coloured tickets (of which I too am guilty as my ‘top-up’ wine comes from there).

    I’m at a slightly different perspective to yourself – without a doubt there are many small value add ‘easy-win’ things that could be done to drive passion for wine in the supermarket sector (RIP Tesco wine community) but, having pondered this a while back, wine is a commodity in the store just like anything else they sell. Would we then need to have shelf labels extolling the virtue of Warburtons bread over Hovis? Where do you stop?

    For them it makes absolute sense to sell cheaper lines faster and in greater volume than more premium wines where they potentially make less mark up. To get some cross-pollination they could perhaps stock all of the Sauv Blancs in one place so people can trade across brands/countries easily but, you could then argue that regionality becomes even more lost.

    I might actually lay as much blame with the consumer here as, if they can’t remember the name/country/colour of a wine that they apparently liked then either the wine wasn’t truly memorable enough to buy again, or they are just not in to the details as you or I perhaps may be.

    Interesting debate though.
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done Dave. I am with you in everything you say. Worth also considering the fact that generally it can be better – not perfect – but better depending on the management culture of the particular supermarket.

    For example, Waitrose probably at the top end in terms of wine knowledge & service. Iceland at the bottom. Lidl/Aldi near bottom. Asda. The Coop. Then Morrisons with Sainsbury’s ahead of Tesco. Of course these are my arbitrary standings. But the point is that it can be better if the management put some thought into it.

    And if the retailer can’t be bothered to train the staff at least provide the customer with readily available information so an informed choice can be made. The Lidl Wine Cellar / Hugh Bamford approach, while, not by any means perfect, is a commendable start in point of sale information & merchandising.

    Anyway Dave well said for what you’ve written up. Cheers.

    Like

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