Wines of Portugal is targeting independent wine merchants in a new push to enthuse the wine trade about the quality and diversity of Portuguese wines.

The body plans to send a team of ambassadors to 30 independent wine merchants and 30 restaurants in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, where they will host tastings and dinners at which they can extol the virtues of Portuguese wines directly to consumers.

The move to target independents and engaged wine consumers is a radical departure from Wines of Portugal’s strategy in the past.

Marketing director Nuno Vale told OLN: “In the past, like everyone else, we were giving money to the big retailers and hoping things would improve and waiting for things to improve, but we were addressing an indifferent consumer. We don’t want to do that anymore.

“Our wines are more complex and diverse, and need explaining, and need people to understand. We shouldn’t be making a huge effort in a distribution point that is not able to do personal selling. That is why we are moving towards independent wine merchants.”

He added: “This approach is a win-win for everyone involved – Wines of Portugal gets energetic and accurate delivery of key messages through benchmark wines, consumers learn more about Portuguese wines and the host independent or restaurant gets some promotional stock, an interesting evening for their customers and increased sales.”

Vale added that the body aims to communicate a new message: that Portugal is “the New World in the Old World” – with a new breed of winemakers bringing modern, international techniques to the country’s traditional winemaking and indigenous grape varieties.

He said: “It is a mix of Old World and New World. We are New World because there are so many exciting things to know about the diveristy of Portuguese wines that make us interesting and new.”