The Wines of the Beautiful South tasting is back after its inaugural event last year. Organisers Wines of South Africa, Wines of Chile and Wines of Argentina share their plans.

If you are involved in the retail of alcohol off the premises it is highly likely that you are aware of the schemes now in place in many parts of the country banning retailers from selling various beer and cider brands that have an abv of 5.5% and above.

Along with a bunch of verdicts on drinks that included Pernod, WKD and a beer called Arse Liquor, the Portman Group independent complaints panel last month ruled that 50cl cans of Tennent’s Super were in breach of the organisation’s marketing code.

There’s a well-stocked gift shop at the Cotswolds Distillery in the heart of the English countryside. There are Cotswolds keyrings, candles and cufflinks. Pessimistic umbrellas share shelf space with tastefully branded notepads and books on gin and whisky by noted authors. About the only thing that’s not on the shelves yet is bottles of spirits.

For some time, canned ale has been the dowdy cousin of flamboyant premium bottled ale. The humble format has seen sales slide 2.3% for premium ales and 6.6% for standard ales, according to Marston’s 2014 Premium Bottled Ale Report, while more than 140 products were launched in the PBA category last year – compared to fewer than 20 in canned ale.

Shots and shooters are inextricably linked with the on-trade. Their very names conjure up images of crowded bars and clubs, loud music and drinks that are swallowed, not savoured.

Three Scandinavian producers made the top 10 European brewers in our poll of industry experts and opinion-formers. The traditional European powerhouses of Belgium and Germany still got a look- in, but the impact of the craft brewing revolution has reached as far as Iceland, Spain and Italy, as the list of those that didn’t make the top 10 shows. In addition to the emergence of Denmark and Norway, Italy has reaffirmed its case as the microbrewing scene to keep an eye on, with the country’s vote split between five of its up-and-coming producers.

The off-trade spirits market grew by £130 million in the past year as consumer confidence shot up, according to latest annual market report from William Grant & Sons UK. 

Drinks shops with the ability to provide customers with suggested pairings for their  evening meal are legion.  But there aren’t many that will actually sell them the meal as well.

Fresh, fruity, approachable and affordable – four reasons why Prosecco has become the bubbly of choice in the UK.

Favourite Beers opened in 2010 and set itself up as the Gloucestershire centre for beer and cider lovers. The shop scooped OLN’s Drinks Retailing Awards for Independent Beer Retailer of the Year 2012 and Independent Cider Retailer of the Year 2013.

Bordeaux has grown wine exports to the UK by 750,000 cases in the past four years, making it one of the most recession-proof categories around. Latest off-trade figures show sales grew 14.2% in volume and 18.6% in value in the past year (IRI, 52 weeks to March 1).

Ale sales on the rise

27 June, 2014

The off-trade is gaining a stranglehold on the UK’s total beer market and has returned it to growth for the first time in years, according to a new report.

Like the local football team, Burnley brewer Moorhouse’s wants to be in the Premier League. But while the Lancashire town’s footballers defied all the odds to achieve their goal last season, brewery boss David Grant admits: “We’re not quite there yet.”

Lawsuits come in thick and fast when you’re among the world’s top 25 alcoholic drinks suppliers and have a higher turnover than many small countries.

Sales of organic products are on the up — they grew 2.8% in the year to March 2014, reversing several years of decline, according to UK certifying body the Soil Association. But it’s a different story for wine.

In a few short years, electronic cigarettes have emerged as one of the most dynamic — and controversial — markets in the country.

In an off-trade market of almost static volumes, and value sales creeping up with tax and inflation, one category is still storming ahead — fruit cider.

The sun is shining, the weather’s hot, and fruit cider sales are on the up and up. But long-range forecasts suggest that July could be wetter than average — so how can retailers guard against a drop-off in sales and keep fruit cider moving through to autumn and beyond?

Borough Wines started out as a tiny stall in London’s  trendy Borough Market, set up by owner Muriel Chatel to sell wines from her family’s Bergerac estate. 

For years lager has been in the doldrums, cast as a villain by health lobbyists and Daily Mail columnists decrying “booze Britain”, a tasteless dullard by ale aficionados and a great disappointment by retailers watching annual sales continuously dwindle.

Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that the success of UKIP’s candidates in last month’s local and European elections tapped into a rich seam of patriotism in the British population. Nigel Farage is oft snapped supping on a pint of honest ale in a traditional pub – an acknowledgement that great British drinks are at some level an important part of the cultural psyche of the country.

Who decides which wines are sold, bought and drunk in the UK off-trade? Who determines where they come from, how they are made and how much they cost?

Who decides which wines are sold, bought and drunk in the UK off-trade? Who determines where they come from, how they are made and how much they cost?

The vintage crew

12 May, 2014

Cliff Roberson hasn’t done badly for someone who started out as an assistant’s assistant at Peter Dominic, earning £3 a week.

The eyes of the trade are on the London Wine Fair as it gears up for a make-or-break event. A more central location, a broader welcome for suppliers and retailers of all sizes and a domestic, rather than international, focus are all hoped to “re-energise” and “reinvigorate” the fair – and now show organisers are waiting with bated breath to see if the changes will be enough to make it a success.

World class

12 May, 2014

The world beer fixture has emerged as arguably the most diverse and exciting space in the FMCG market in recent years, and it has finally dragged the struggling lager category back into growth.

Sporting chance

12 May, 2014

Beer and football go together like £10 Champagne and footfall, so there is no better time to promote world beers than the impending World Cup.

If the people of Scotland vote for independence in September they’ll take with them one of the UK drinks industry’s biggest assets.

A pinker shade of pale

17 April, 2014

Rosé is coming of age. After its mad surge in popularity in the mid to late noughties, sales of pink wine have levelled off and consumers are turning to paler-coloured, drier styles that go well with food.

Cocktail catwalk

17 April, 2014

April air is full of promise. Balmy evening barbecues and picnics in the sunshine are just around the corner. Long, refreshing drinks will be the order of the day and the best way to gauge what might slake consumer thirst this season is to talk to the trendsetters.

Upping the ante on sherry

17 April, 2014

At first sight, the latest export data from Jerez’s Consejo Regulador make for some pretty grim reading. Total imports of sherry in the UK fell more than 1 million litres, from just over 12 million litres in 2012 to just over 11 million litres in 2013. This is typical of the downward trend that has dominated the UK sherry market over the course of the past decade.

Warm welcome

17 April, 2014

Winter is barely behind us and the sun already seems to be shining on cider sales. They grew 9% by value in the off- trade to reach nearly £1 billion in the year to March 1, according to Nielsen, and cider is outperforming most other drinks categories.

Cider's high five

17 April, 2014

Cider is set for a super summer, but it is no longer as simple as pouring apple cider over ice. Keep on top of the trends with OLN's guide to the five key elements to make this year the summer of cider. 

Ruth Yates founded Corks Out in Chester in 2003 and has grown the business to a chain of five shops – in Alderley Edge, Stockton Heath, Timperley and Heswall – as well as an e-commerce website.

English crops grow

04 April, 2014

Drinkers want more English wine than the country’s 1,438ha of vineyards can produce. But production remains tiny compared to more established wine countries, prices are high and there are still some people who don’t even realise English wine exists.

The perfect match

04 April, 2014

Bookmakers have slashed the odds on Britain basking in the hottest temperatures on record this summer to 4/1 after forecasters predicted a prolonged heatwave.

What if the Scots walk?

21 March, 2014

When Scotland wakes up on September 19, voters will have decided whether to break away from the UK and set out as an independent nation, opening the prospect of differing tax regimes and currencies on each side of the border. Both sides of the political debate are already being hotly discussed, but many issues remain unclear, including the implications for drinks retailers.

Heart to Hart

21 March, 2014

Rob Hart’s not really into gimmicky beers. “Old Badger’s Arse and that sort of thing?” he half asks and half laments, shaking his head. The credo of his Harts Family Brewers is to produce good beer, present it well and turn a profit, without being married to a style, whether it’s old-fashioned chestnut bitters aimed at 60-somethings in the golf club or Belgian-style saisons to be sipped by hip young readers of The Chap in Shoreditch craft beer bars.

Lost in France

21 March, 2014

If you take a stroll down the wine aisles of a British supermarket these days, you’re bound to be struck by the diverse origins of the offering. It’s a veritable United Nations out there, with representatives from Australia, Chile, Spain, the US, Italy and South Africa jostling for shelf space with Austria, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and Uruguay. Twenty years ago, the picture would have been different. Those shelves would have held a far scantier range of wines, and would almost certainly have been dominated by one country: France.

Sweet sorrow

21 March, 2014

The wine trade loves Germany. In fact, it’s quite possible that anyone who has tasted even a smallish range of what the country has to offer loves its wines – they’re great quality, they cover pretty much every price point and they come in all shapes and sizes.

Score a win

21 March, 2014

On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness are downed across the globe, but that figure more than doubles to 13 million pints on St Patrick’s Day, according to Diageo sales figures.

According to this year’s Good Beer Guide there are 1,147 breweries in the UK, with almost 200 opening in the past year, taking levels to a 70-year high. Established national and local brewers have been joined by exciting start-ups that have helped change the taste, quality and style of the beers we drink. But which one’s best? Only one way to find out ... with the latest in our Hot List poll of leading retailers and opinion-formers in the field.

The world in miniature

21 March, 2014

The snacks market has gone mad for sharing sizes over the past few years, but as successive duty hikes have combined with economic and ecological factors to drive prices up, wines and spirits have begun to embrace individual serves.

This central Birmingham independent has a plush wine bar upstairs and a wine shop with sampling machines downstairs.

It's hip to sip

14 March, 2014

Comedian Dylan Moran once said that to drink gin you have to be 45, female and sitting on the stairs, because gin isn’t really a drink – it’s more a mascara thinner.

Aiming high

11 March, 2014

Fears of a poor 2013 harvest in Spain have not materialised and the country looks set to remain the European favourite for wines at what retailers and producers are euphemistically calling “key price points”.

The new, old Napa

11 March, 2014

Ask a Napa winemaker what they thought of the 2011 vintage and you’re likely to get one of two answers. For some it was an opportunity, for others a disaster.

Green shoots for ale

14 February, 2014

For the first time in a decade the UK beer market has shown two consecutive quarters of growth – led by retailers who champion premium bottled ale. The British Beer & Pub Association produces a quarterly beer barometer survey and it shows the total beer market grew 5.2% in the third quarter of 2013, its best performance this century.

Status flow

14 February, 2014

A piledriver is a wrestling manoeuvre that sees a spandex-clad behemoth pick up his opponent, turn him upside down and slam his head into the ground. It is favoured by a wrestler called The Undertaker, and it always results in a knockout.

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COMMENT

Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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