Indies cautious about on-trade reopening

Some merchants are happy to play a waiting game rather than jump back into serving drinks for on-premise consumption. Others feel they have little option but to reopen.

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bright ideas

Huddersfield wine merchant Kwas gives its art club members a challenge by asking them to come up with designs for wine labels.

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tried and tested

The wines that floated our boat in June: orange wine you could drink by the pint, mesmerising unoaked Malbec and Chardonnay from Muscadet country.

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the burning question

What changes have independent wine merchants made to their shops and working practices to maintain social distancing and keep staff and customers safe? Four indies tell us their stories.

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couriers: what a smashing service

Lockdown has resulted in a boom in local and national deliveries for wine merchants, and now more than ever indies are relying on couriers to help them get orders to customers on time and in perfect condition. But the familiar problems with lost consignments and broken bottles have not gone away.

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scrap these useless VI-1 forms

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association says European producers will face €300 to €400 of extra costs for every wine they export to the UK. Read how the post-Brexit arrangements will affect indies – and how you can contact your MP.

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merchant profile: bottles of worcester

Bottles of Worcester has just celebrated its fifth birthday, but owner Richard Everton’s wine trade career stretches back far beyond that. Like his father Don Everton, he captained the local rugby side, and has taken almost as many knocks in his business life as he did in his sporting days.

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interview: DAVID GLEAVE MW

Liberty Wines boss David Gleave believes that independents have a good chance of hanging on to some of their bigger-spending new customers, but warns that the multiples are likely to provide stiffer competition in the post-Covid era.

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keeping it personal

Sunny Hodge, of Diogenes the Dog in south London, launched a ‘phone sommelier’ service to keep his customers investigating wines like Texan Malbec and Polish stickies. The scheme wasn’t an unqualified success, but it has helped the business maintain a bond with customers that might otherwise have started to fray.

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comings & GOINGS

D Byrne, the legendary Clitheroe independent, has temporarily vacated its famous King Street shop and is operating from a warehouse for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.

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act natural

Do organic and natural wines need certificates and badges to impress eco-conscious consumers? David Williams hears opinions on both sides of the argument.

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just williams

The wine trade has found digital ways of adapting to lockdown. Some have been pretty successful. But in the longer term, the “generous rectangle” of a screen is no substitute for real human contact.

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David Williams

non vintage, non issue

Blending wines from different years isn’t a problem for winemakers in Champagne, or for Port producers. So why should non vintage be such a taboo for still wines, asks guest columnist Robert Mason.

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