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Get to know your wine list heroes

Image Of Someone Pouring Wine Into A Glass

With restaurants across the UK able to open up in just over a week this is the perfect time to take stock of your range and ask yourself if you’ve got the right mix for when your customers come rushing back through your doors.

By all indications, UK customers are excited to return to on trade and with high levels of vaccination and dropping case numbers, they're feeling more confident than in July 2020. It’s the perfect time to start rebuilding stock levels and preparing for any changes you might want to make to your wine range.

When it comes to building a wine list it can sometimes feel like a bit of a minefield. The wine world is full of fast-changing trends and exciting oddities; wines that may catch the eye of your savvier customers but might turn off everyday drinkers that are looking for something familiar and predictable. For those of us in the wine world it might seem obvious that with the ever-broadening range of styles available on the market, consumers are becoming more adventurous and willing to try niche or alternative products. However, the data is pointing us in the other direction. The top six selling wine varieties (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Malbec, and Shiraz) grew their market share in 2020 by 1.5%. This tells us that it’s more important than ever to cover these classics and make them a foundational part of your wine list.

Having the ‘basics’ on the list doesn’t mean that they need to be the cheapest wines on your list. Pricing them in the midrange can be a good way to encourage lovers of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Italian Pinot Grigio to trade up while leaving space in the lower end for your customers to explore new styles or trends. For more tips on how to make the most out of your wine list have a look at this article on Finding value with your wine list choices.

Whites Wines

Together, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio accounted for 80% of all value from white wines sold in the on-trade. This tells us that while there’s room to play around with emerging trends like Albariño and Vinho Verde, it’s crucial to get these three varieties right. That old faithful, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, is not going away any time soon and is still growing with sales increasing 25% in 2020 ahead of 16% for white wines more broadly.

And don’t forget to think pink. In 2020 the value of rosé wine sales grew almost 25%, well ahead of the volume, making it a prime candidate for premiumising your wine offering.

Try some of our wine list heroes:

Whispering Hills Chardonnay, California USA

Footsteps Pinot Grigio, Veneto Italty

Leftfield Sauvignon Blanc, Nelson NZ

Hardys The Riddle Shiraz Rosé, Australia

Red Wines

Customers are slightly more adventurous when it comes to trying red wines. But Shiraz, Malbec and Merlot still took the lions share of sales in the on-premise in 2020. When it comes to the highest performers in the red wine category Argentinian Malbec is the clear winner, growing 50% in 2020 with red wine overall growing at 16%.

Familia Zuccardi Brazos Malbec, Uco Valley Argentina

Footsteps Merlot, Pays d’Oc France

Hardys Foodies Choice Shiraz, Australia


With little to celebrate, sparkling wine sales suffered during 2020. But, according to research from William Grants & Sons, a strong bounce-back is predicted with customers already making plans to treat themselves once allowed back into venue . Champagne and Prosecco are both going to be essential pieces of the puzzle for venues looking to capitalise on the mood of celebration and excitement at the end of a long winter and national lockdown.

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV

Bottega Gold Prosecco Brut

Have a look here to see all the wines we have on promotion for April and May.

About the author

Gabrielle Hutson

Gab found a love for wine (and spirits and beer and coffee!) during her years on the hospitality scene around Australia. The desire to dip her toes into a bigger wine and hospitality industry drove her to London and today she writes, reads and talks non-stop about wine for Matthew Clark's website and social channels.

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