If wine retail is anything like it was when I did it 10 years ago, then the fastest moving drink in the shop is, in fact, tea. A nice cuppa accompanied everything: opening up, cashing up, mopping up smashed bottles of wine – and sitting down to read OLN, of course.

So, since you’re already doing that, grab yourself a cuppa and let’s talk about wine retail’s seven deadly sins.

  1. Lazy buying. Every wine on your shelf should be there for a good reason. You don’t need to personally love every one – but are they all the very best examples you can find, or did some of them just come with a free box of glasses when you ordered five cases? No excuses: if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, go flog insurance.ail’s seven deadly sins.
  2. Bad merchandising. The personality of your shop speaks through your displays. They should be eye- catching, inventive and un-intimidating. Don’t let bottles gather dust. Don’t leave your most expensive kit cooking under the spotlights. Don’t make price promotions your most distinguishing feature. And check the spelling on all your POS. It may be clichéd but it’s true – retail is detail.
  3. Disengagement. Sure, we all drink as much wine as we can, that’s the easy bit. But if you’re selling wine you should also be reading wine books, taking Wine & Spirit Education Trust courses, posting on forums, hassling winemakers on Twitter, going to tastings and visiting vineyards. That’s what makes the industry so interesting.
  4. Saying no. I know how annoying customers can be – I am one. But everything you won’t do is something your competitors might. That doesn’t mean capitulating every time you’re asked to give extra discount or to host another charity tasting, but it does mean offering something better than a flat-out refusal. The best advice I learned from my Majestic days was to minimise the barriers between you and the customer.
  5. Old stock. You don’t display beer or soft drinks past their sell-by date, so why do it with wine? Just because an expiry date isn’t printed on the label, that doesn’t mean it’s OK to keep those weeping bottles of cream sherry and dodgy old rosés just sitting there. If your customers want overpriced vinegar they can go to the supermarkets.
  6. Smugness. The wine industry is notorious for this. Most wine drinkers don’t even bother going to off- licences any more, so the occasions that they do are our big chance to show them what they’re missing. We should be accommodating and welcoming – wine is intimidating enough without staff being snooty. A little humility goes a long way – remind yourself of the first wine you liked and remember that everyone has to start somewhere.
  7. Running out of tea. A sackable offence.