TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



wine business

Posted by Torsten 12 Mar 2013

Dear Waitrose,

You are not like every other supermarket. You were the first to sell organic food in the UK. You have a royal warrant to supply the Queen. You are owned by your employees. And through your wine business you have won much respect, including mine.

That is until you sold me a bottle of "Piesporter Michelsberg" under the label of "Legends of Germany" as "one of the most renowned wines of Germany". Admittedly, this has not the same shocking ring to it as labelling horsemeat as beef, nor is it a health risk or illegal. And yet you are misleading your customers, thereby damaging the image of a product you and others have worked hard to restore to former glory: German wine.

Posted by Torsten 31 May 2011

The future of German wine in the UK market. You will not be surprised that this is a topic the Wine Rambler is very interested in. Earlier in May I went to the Delfina Gallery, near London Bridge, to attend the Riesling & Co tasting and the German Wine Question Time panel discussion that aimed to address the topic of how to improve Germany's place in the UK market.

is the time for traditional German wine design over?is the time for traditional German wine design over?

The Riesling & Co agenda is closely linked to this, driven by "a group of dynamic German winemakers who collectively have set themselves the task of reviving the German wine industry across the world." An ambitious mission, and one that also influenced the brief for the panel discussion:

The UK trade has been talking of a Riesling renaissance for the last 10 years, but despite the hype, Germany - arguably the home of the greatest Rieslings worldwide - still hasn’t cracked it. What can the UK trade do to make sure that UK consumers don’t miss out on what Germany has to offer?

Posted by Torsten 13 May 2011

Do we really need another book on "wine myths"? After all, the internet is full of websites debunking the top ten (or other) wine myths, and I have lost count of the number of tiny paperbacks that promise to make you a wine expert or at least save you from the most common misconceptions or myths. Looking at its title you may mistake Benjamin Lewin's latest venture for yet another manifestation of such, in every sense of the word, light reading.

However, just a quick glance into Wine Myths and Reality will tell you it is a rather different animal. Not only is it a, in every sense of the word, substantial book, but also one that actually makes an argument.

Posted by Torsten 07 Feb 2010

It is time again to write up some wine relate news: the juicy, the interesting, the random and all other sorts of miscellaneous wine information the Wine Rambler happened to stumble upon over the past few weeks.

I don't know how this always happens, but again we have a few miscellanies on the wide and, potentially, attractive topic of 'women and wine'. 'Potentially attractive' would perhaps be a good way of referring to something I came across the other day on the website of the Austrian Kronen Zeitung. Every so often you will find men and women stripping in front of a camera, to produce a calendar that supports some good cause (fight against cancer, making money etc.). Recently, the Austrians got a dozen women (almost) naked to support the Austrian wine industry. Personally, I think Austrian wine is good enough not to need that kind of support, but the organiser feels that the calendar will support the marketing of Austria's good wine in a 'modern and personable way'. 'Who', she say, 'would be better suited for this than our own vintner offspring?' So they put twelve (almost, I hasten to add again) naked daughters of vintners in wine related surroundings (vineyards, cellars etc.), decorate them with stockings and all the like and think that this will help to improve the image of Austrian wine. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 05 Nov 2009

While the week comes to an end, it is getting time for some wine news from the Internet: the miscellaneous, the bizarre, the enlightening. Let's start with Spar. 'Spar' means 'save money' in German (and, as I understand, also in several other languages such as Dutch, Danish or Norwegian) and I always took it for a smallish continental food retailer, until I found out that it actually is one of the world's largest. Maybe it is this international aspect of the business that has convinced Spar to go local with regards to wine. In the UK, Spar is now selling wines with the labels translated, well, not into English, but into regional dialects. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 01 Jul 2009

Journalists are sometimes a bit slow. I am just reading an article in the German newspaper Die Welt and they have come to the surprising conclusion that Brits are less likely to buy European wine these days as Sterling is so weak compared to the Euro. I am not quite sure why this article comes out now, after all Sterling was pretty much on par with the Euro around Christmas and has since picked up 17%, but it is true that buying wine from the continent is not as exciting as it was two years ago.

The UK has very high duties and taxes on wine, but if you order only for your personal consumption you do not have to pay these. This means that in 2007 I could import German Riesling for about 50% less than what it would have cost me to buy the same wine in the UK. It is still cheaper now, but not as good value as it was before. However, that is not really news.

One interesting fact though: the UK taxes wine 65 times as much as France. Cheers! [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 16 Jun 2009

Studying history, they say, prepares you for life. So when I was told at university that 18th century Britain pretty much invented sales tactics and classics such as the shop window, that should have prepared me for what I experienced when moving to the UK: Seasonal sale, mid-season sale, in-between season sale and all sorts of promotions started to dominate my life.

Even my local supermarket does them all the time and I do constantly have to face signs offering 40% off on a certain wine. £4.99 instead of £9.99? Sounds tempting - unless you know that the wine may only be worth £4.49, with the price artificially doubled so that it can be sold to you as a 'really good deal'. In an article on discount wine, the Guardian explains how this all works: [read the full post...]