Wine trade ‘needs a Jamie Oliver’

The wine trade could benefit from having “a Jamie Oliver” figure to engage with consumers and encourage interest in wine, replicating the chef’s success in engaging a generation with food, a leading retail buyer has said.


Speaking to the drinks business at a tasting of its portfolio in London yesterday, Davy Zyw, buyer for Laithwaites, said wine had been “slightly left behind” as interest in food has taken off in recent years.

“It’s an exciting time for food and wine in the UK at the moment”, said Zyw. “There’s a whole generation that’s super excited about experimenting with trends and are enthused and engaged in the restaurant and food scene. I think wine has been slightly left behind in that, so we need to engage with consumers that care about what they are eating. We want to ride on the back of that wave.”

Crediting Jamie Oliver helping to engage a generation with food, Zwy said: “He was a lad, a personable guy who was interested in food. Chefs were around before Jamie Oliver but I think he was the first to really engage with people that might have been put off before. The wine trade needs a Jamie Oliver.”

Unveiling its autumn portfolio at Vinopolis, Zyw highlighted English sparkling wine as one of the most exciting categories, adding that the champenoise should be worried about the growth of the industry and the quality emerging.

“Champagne is in its crystal tower right now but English sparkling wine is here to stay with all these vineyards going down there’s going to be a lot more sparkling wine coming on line when the vines get to fruition and ready to be bottled”, said Zyw. “There’s going to be a lot more wines coming in so it’s going to be even more important for people like Wyfold, which have come from a quality background, to make better quality wines. It’s going to be more important for vineyards of quality to set the benchmark. Perhaps not everyone planting vines has that quality mentality.”

Laithwaites Family Vineyards has already invested heavily in English sparkling wine and currently owns four vineyards; Wyfold, run by Barbara Laithwaite, Harrow and Hope, owned by Henry Laithwaite, Windsor Vineyard, which supplies grapes to Ridgeview, and Theale, a tiny vineyard used to as base for WSET lectures on viticulture.

“I think its a very exciting time to get behind English sparkling wine”, said Zyw. “It’s a new industry and I think it’s important for the trade to get behind a home grown product. I was in Champagne recently and I asked everyone if they had tasted English sparkling wine and everyone had – they know the quality – but it’s going to take a few more years to build up English sparking wine as an aspirational drink that Champagne is.”

Click here to read db’s recent interview with Tony Laithwaite.

8 Responses to “Wine trade ‘needs a Jamie Oliver’”

  1. There are many wine communicators out there wanting to do for wine what Jamie did for food and doing it well. The problem is that big TV channels and broadsheets want established names and won’t take the risk on newbies. I think DB should audition them all then get Jamie to pick a winner! Consumers need a Jamie Oliver of wine.

    I totally agree that English wine is the the verge of something big, by the way. It’s such an exciting time and there’s a buzz amongst consumers. It’s our duty as wine writers to make sure this happens!

  2. Tim Carlisle says:

    Wine Idol – isn’t that pretty much what Ollie Smith won a few years back to get the profile and jobs he now has? Ollie is great – and probably the best on Saturday Kitchen for engaging people (no offence to the others!) – the reason is that generally speaking most of the wine ‘presenters’ are too posh! Oz worked wonderfully back in the day – but his most recent success comes with James May who isn’t…

    Jamie works on lots of levels and for lots of reasons – but inclusiveness is one… Wine has this stigma of being for the upper classes – yes people break through that but if you want mass market appeal and so on then a more normal person who you’d expect to see down the boozer has more chance or working than a highly qualified, massively well educated MW. As it happens I think Joe Wadsack is really good too for that normal down to earth thing – and I wonder whether Sommelier types ought to be looked at.

    The other one who worked (until he went back to Oz) was Matt Skinner – knew wine but kept it simple and engaging.

  3. Jonathan Cahill says:

    As opposed to looking to other people to do their job for them, the wine industry might more profitably look to itself and market its products more effectively. The proposal made smacks of sticking plaster. Many of the industry’s problems are ones created by itself and its reluctance to engage with the consumer. A simple example is the narcissistic language of shelf tickets. There was one which talked about ‘the scent of garrigue’. What piffle, not even one in a hundred consumers would know what this means.

    A person who has worked in the wine section of one of the outlets of a much-awarded supermarket for 27 years is given only one opportunity a year for feedback and this is essentially a patronising pantomime, going through the motions rather than any actual enquiry. Apparently the marketing department, like much of the rest of the wine industry, is too lofty to ask a colleague form a lower level who just happens to be in contact with the consumer every day. At the very least it is free anecdotal research and might produce one or two thoughts where there seem to be precious few.

    The focus on Jamie Oliver is blinkered. He is simply another in a long line of TV chefs who have helped make food more accessible, think the Galloping Gourmet and Keith Floyd plus the legions of others. The seismic shift in attitudes to food over the last 30 years has been due to a lot of other factors than Jamie Oliver

  4. Matthew Hudson says:

    Davy no-one could do a better job than you!


  5. Jen Burke says:

    Ummm…Gary Vayderchuk anyone? He may not be doing it anymore, but why are you focussed on traditional media?

    YouTube is the disrupter here, not the person (necessarily).

    Just my two cents,

  6. Neil Gooch says:

    Cast your minds back a generation, and you will recall Oz Clarke being the perfect foil to Jilly Goolden by simplifying her enthusiastic but more effusive descriptive terms for wine. This combination actually worked. In essence, purchaser’s of wine at supermarkets whilst more discerning, are not necessarily looking for more than a simple recommendation and endorsement…..Malcolm Gluck was equally helpful in this regard with his super plonk guides. My point is, Jamie works because of his enthusiasm and understanding of ingredients and is capable of showing us how to make a good meal simply, but the same format would not apply to wine. Wine guides such as those available in Lidl for example are helpful. Both Olly, and Joe Wadsack are doing a grand job, and so to are Susie Barre and Suzy Atkins.

  7. Smitha458 says:

    Inspiring story, where did you quote it from? kkfdebdedkfkkdea

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