The beverage business blog from Olly Wehring
If you would like to offer your comments, opinions, suggest topics or just have a good rant, please feel free to email: Olly Wehring.
The LIWF 2010 – Let's get ready to rumble
21 Apr 2010 17:33
There's less than a month to go until this year's London International Wine Fair, and it's shaping up to be quite a good'un, least of all because it's the event's 30th anniversary this year. Take a look here to peruse the first show's calendar – there are a few familiar names.
For those of you who haven't registered, click here.
As usual, just-drinks will be out in force during the three days, so come along and watch us at work at our stand, G10.
We'll also be running our regular daily diary in the run-up to the show, with details of whose doing, showing and offering what in the hall. These diary pieces will start up on 1 May, so get your company's news to us now, by emailing them to email@example.com.
Finally, we're getting very excited about our 'State of the Nation' seminar, which we'll be hosting on the Wednesday. Not only will yours truly be giving his two penn'orth on how the landscape looks in the UK for wine companies, but we'll also have Troy Christensen (president of Constellation Australia and Europe), Simon Thorpe (managing director of Negociants UK) and Daniel King (COO of mySupermarket-Insights) balancing out my ramblings with their knowledgeable insights.
Admission is free, but spaces are limited, so click here for details on how to reserve a place.
We look forward to seeing you.
"But Coke said I could, Ref"
19 Apr 2010 16:51
The Coca-Cola Co has started up its engine for this year's FIFA World Cup tournament in South Africa today, with the launch of the first global TV ad for its namesake brand.
Hats off to the company, it certainly is a rousing advert, with 15 (I've counted) different on-pitch goal celebrations.
In September last year, you may recall, I was lucky enough to visit FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, and hear Coca-Cola's CEO, Muhtar Kent, detail the company's plans in the run-up to – and during - the tournament.
For every goal scored during the tournament and celebrated with a dance, Kent said at the time, Coca-Cola will make a donation to its 'Water for Schools' effort that helps provide schools with access to safe drinking water.
But will this charitable incentive push players to breach the rules? Surely the celebration in the ad when a player uses the corner flag as a microphone deserves a yellow card, for “unsporting behaviour, e.g. extravagant celebrations”?
Happy St Patrick's Day
17 Mar 2010 16:15
A very Happy St Patrick's Day to you all. And how am I going to celebrate this evening? Why, I'm going to a tasting of The Balvenie... which is a Scotch...
Anyway, in honour of all things Irish, we're glad to shed some light on what, I'm sure, has been keeping many of you awake at night for years.
The Daily Express has reported today (17 March) that scientists have been able to pin down exactly why the bubbles in a pint of Guinness sink instead of rise.
By using a “super-fast” camera (very technical) that magnifies the bubbles ten times, members of the Royal Society of Chemistry noticed that bubbles in the centre of the glass rise rapidly, pulling the surrounding liquid with them and setting up a circulating current.
Flowing outwards from the head of a pint of Guinness, the current hit the glass edge and was pushed down.
Bubbles held back by dragging on the side of the glass were caught in the circulation and forced to go with the flow - the wrong way.
If you have any other national holiday-related conundrums you'd like us to look into, please, go away.
Diageo v Bacardi - Tick, tick, tick, tick... BOOM
24 Feb 2010 15:21
Today's top story is certainly a cockle-warmer on a cold, damp Wednesday in February.
Diageo didn't so much fire a warning shot across Bacardi's bows yesterday (23 February), more set about the boat itself... with a bazooka. Not only does Diageo's statement make for an interesting read, but it is also a pretty long one – take a look for yourself here.
This is most unlike Diageo, which usually prefers to play the strong, silent type when it comes to disputes - witness how the firm chose to keep its head when all about it was losing theirs and blaming it on Diageo during last year's Scotland closure row.
A brace of more recent attacks, including one from Bacardi, however, was one poke through the bars too many. I've heard that Diageo was tiring of having to rebut the allegations to each individual who challenged them, choosing instead to give its full (and I mean full) and frank take on the matter.
Bacardi's response – all of three sentences - is short and sweet, much like that of the Puerto Rican government – two sentences.
Yet, in such a short burst of words, the two ask whether the US taxpayer is the one getting a rum deal here.
A funny thing happened on the way to The Macallan...
16 Feb 2010 09:15
Number two in our haphazard, (hopefully) long-running series of drinks industry travel-related anecdotes.
Here's number one, to ease you back in.
At Heathrow's Terminal 5 yesterday (15 February) en route to Aberdeen for a dinner at Edrington Group's The Macallan distillery, the tannoy kicks up:
"Would Mr Rasmussen, travelling to Copenhagen, please make his way to gate A6 immediately, as the 'plane is ready to depart."
Not that Mr Rasmussen, surely?
Wine writers - criticising the critics
09 Feb 2010 15:19
It's open season for critics of wine critics here in the UK this month.
Last week, US wine personality (I struggle still to find out what it is he actually does) Tim Hanni attacked wine critics en masse, claiming that the breed are of little use to the wine consumer in the street.
"We've created the false idea that to be a wine expert you have to have an almost supernatural palate," he told the Guardian. "But, ironically, if anyone really did have such a palate, it would disqualify them from being an oracle to those who didn't.
"Received wisdom holds that certain wines are simply the best, and that anyone who disagrees is stupid, unsophisticated, or both. That's more chaotic than giving people the confidence to drink what they like, no matter what the bottle costs, and no matter what food they enjoy it with."
(Granted, Hanni was pushing a questionnaire he has designed in partnership with Bibendum in the UK, designed to help consumers work out what tastes they prefer. Still, his opinion on wine writers warrants consideration.
Today, however, Tim Atkin – a wine writer – has countered Hanni's argument, going so far as to suggest: “Experienced wine critics are arguably more essential in a recession than ever.”
Do feel free to let me know which side of the fence you sit on. Indeed, if you tell me, I'll tell you.
I'll have to whisper it, mind.
Survey time - We ask the questions
03 Feb 2010 11:34
At the beginning of last year, the performance of the drinks sector in 2009 was pretty easy to forecast. After all, as 2008 came to a close, it was clear that the prognosis for the following 12 months was not good. One year on, however, and the future is a little tougher to forecast.
So, just-drinks is asking its readers what they think 2010 has in store for our industry.
We've put together a short questionnaire, which will only take a few minutes of your time. Once the responses have been compiled, I will send you the results.
Rest assured that all responses will be treated in the strictest confidence and summary/average results presented.
Everything you always wanted to know about Champagne...
02 Feb 2010 17:09
If, like us, you're based in the UK and, like us, you prefer your peers to believe that you know more than you actually do, then this little black book might come in handy.
Champagne Lanson is celebrating its 250th anniversary in the UK this year by offering a pocket guide to all things champenoise, ‘The Little Black Book of Champagne’.
The 52-page book offers a guide to the different taste profiles of malolactic and non-malolactic styles of Champagne and helps to put into context the role that taste should play when choosing Champagne.
Retailing at GBP5.99, the guide will be available free of charge to trade and consumers for a limited period by requesting a copy from here.
We've already put our order in.
Vodkat - Is this problem really an opportunity?
29 Jan 2010 16:10
Diageo’s legal victory against 22% abv 'vodka look-a-like' Vodkat last week has been hailed as “a major step in the legal protection of the vodka category” by the Gin & Vodka Association (GVA).
Vodkat brand owner Intercontinental Brands (ICB) is still mulling over a possible appeal against the High Court ruling that it was passing Vodkat off as a full-strength vodka, but what will the longer-term knock-on effects be of the Vodkat saga?
The brand sold nearly 9m litres, netting revenues of over GBP50m, in the period from its launch in May 2005 to late 2009 – making it the fastest growing spirits brand in the UK in that timescale.
Diageo and the GVA will argue that much of that growth was spurious, based on the mistaken consumer assumption that they were buying a regular vodka. But, it’s still hard to escape the conclusion that there is demand for low-strength, mixable 'light spirits' like Vodkat.
At a time of unprecedented social concerns over the effects of strong alcohol, and with wine and beer both exploring lower-strength alternatives, is the time ripe to develop a mid-strength mixable category – stronger than wine, but weaker than full-strength spirits?
Given the Vodkat decision, it’s hard at this stage to say what this category will look like, since it appears it can’t even allude to a full-strength product like vodka or, say, gin.
But could a Vodkat-like product – albeit one with a less controversial name – be a hit with consumers? And who might emerge to lead this pioneering new category? A rebranded Vodkat from ICB? Or a brand-new product from a company like Diageo?
Whisky and haggis
27 Jan 2010 15:18
Diageo is pushing its Talisker Scotch whisky as an accompaniment to food and haggis is top of the menu.
Whether you pour your Talisker onto your haggis, or merely sip it alongside, Diageo is keen to make more of the combination.
Haggis sales in the UK rose by 19% to GBP8.8m (US$14.2m) in 2009, said the Scottish Government on Monday (25 January), the date when Scots celebrate the life of national poet Robert Burns.
As two icons of Scottish culture, whisky and haggis could not be more different. One induces romantic images of glens, lochs and moors, while the other tends to conjure a wrinkled nose and a fear of stomach cramps. Have you guessed which is which?
Despite a rise UK demand for haggis, then, Diageo is sensibly looking to promote Isle of Skye-distilled Talisker as an accompaniment to food in general.
For one thing, haggis is still banned in the US.