Lidl to run pop-up wine tastings across UK

UK discounter Lidl is running a two-day wine pop-up blind tasting, in London, Manchester and Glasgow next month, which will take place entirely in the dark and set consumers back less than a fiver.

The Lidl Chateaux Noir event, which is being hosted by Lidl’s consultant MW Richard Bampfield, is designed to prevent people judging the wine on the bottle and “put snobbery aside”, and will include eight wines from the range.

It feature a ‘discombobulation chamber’ – a room designed to trick the senses through false sense of scale and garish, candy cane striped walls – and a ‘Cellar Noir’ where the 40-minute blind tasting will be take place, complete with waiters in night vision goggles.

“By taking away sight, here guests will learn how to identify real quality wine, away from preconceptions of bottle design, labels, colour or price,” the retailer said – although this is usually achieved at blind tastings by covering the bottles.

Consumers will then have the chance to buy wines they’ve tasted at the pop-up Christmas shop.

The fee from the event will be donated to children’s charity the NSPCC.

Blurring the lines

Lidl’s event highlights the way in which retailers have increasingly blurred the lines between straight retail and traditionally on-trade style events in order to get customers better engaged in the wine aisles – something that has also been widely embraced by big wine and spirit brands. This experiential marketing has been on the rise across the grocery channel, from  Aldi’s pop-up wine shop in Shoreditch during London Wine Week in 2017 to Tesco’s launching its *finest wine bar in the heart of London’s west end in August 2016 to showcase its premium own label range, and a show for consumers at London Olympia (a continuation of its long-standing national Tesco wine fairs, which ran from 2003 – 2014).

Meanwhile Waitrose has introduced more ‘grazing areas’ and wine bars in store, which were first trialled in 2014, and also launched a series of ‘hometainment’ tastings for win, gin, and whisky via its website, as well as running two drinks festivals, which included  pre-booked drinks master-classes and seminars with buyers. And in July, Sainsbury’s launched a pop-up low-alcohol and alcohol-free pub in London’s Holborn for two days called The Clean Vic.

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