Bars that stock more non-alcoholic drinks could reduce alcohol consumption

6th May, 2020

People are more likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink if there are more of those on offer than a boozy alternative, according to new research.

A number of UK breweries have invested in their low alcohol ranges.

When people are presented a range of drinks, they are 48% more likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink when the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options is higher than those of wine, beer or spirits.

That is according to a joint study by researchers from the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, the University of Bristol, and the University of Cambridge.

The researchers tested subjects by asking them to choose from a range of eight drinks online.

The participants were even more likely to opt for an alcohol-free drink when the number of those available rose from four (50%) to six (75%).

When the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options decreased from four to two (25%), participants were 46% less likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink.

Dr Anna Blackwell, the corresponding author said: “To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that increasing the availability of non-alcoholic drinks, relative to alcoholic drinks in an online scenario, can increase their selection.”

Blackwell suggested that her team’s research could be used to change the way pubs, bars and restaurants offer drinks up to the public.

Anna Blackwell said: “Many licensed venues already offer several non-alcoholic options but these are often stored out of direct sight, for example in low-level fridges behind the bar. Our results indicate that making these non-alcoholic products more visible to customers may influence them to make healthier choices.”

The news comes as sales of non-alcoholic beer have grown rapidly in recent years. Sales of no and low alcohol drinks in the on-trade rose by 48% last year to be worth around £60 million, according to data from market researcher CGA. This itself was driven by an 80% rise in alcohol free options.

“The market for alcohol-free beer, wine and spirit alternatives is small but growing,” Blackwell said, and improving the selection and promotion of non-alcoholic drinks “could provide an opportunity for licensed venues to reduce alcohol consumption without losing revenue.”

HK to ease restrictions on social distancing

5th May, 2020

Bars and pubs in Hong Kong are allowed to reopen from this Friday with new measures in place, including tables seating a maximum of four people.

Owing to the pandemic, the Hong Kong government imposed strict social distancing restrictions in order to contain the virus. Having achieved a record 14-day lull in local infections, the government announced today (5 May) that it would relax the rules over crowd control.

Most venues that have been forced to close, including gyms, beauty salons and cinemas, are allowed to reopen from this Friday.

Bars and pubs can also resume business, but they must operate at half capacity and the number of seats at each table is limited to four people, while live music and dance floors will be banned. Nightclubs and karaoke lounges will remain shut.

The government also extended the public gathering and restaurant restrictions, including table spacing of at least 2.5 metres, by 14 days until 21 May. But, in the revised regulation, the limit of each group gathering has risen from four to eight people.

Gordon Ramsay expects to suffer ‘substantial losses’

5th May, 2020

Chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay said he expects there will be “substantial losses” next year, but nevertheless remains “optimistic” about the future.

Speaking on the Frank Warren Heavyweight Podcast published on 1 May, Ramsay said that running a restaurant is “very hard” at the moment.

“The margins now – not just in the produce and the labour and running costs – are pretty tiny, so there’s no margin for error,” he said.

The hospitality industry has been severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, as restaurants, pubs and bars were ordered to close on 20 March. 

While takeaway operations are allowed to operate, this is not an option for many businesses. Restaurateurs have expressed concern about re-opening too early when restrictions are still in place. 

UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told the BBC on 19 April that hospitality businesses would be among the last to reopen. 

Ramsay said he remains “optimistic” about the future, and believes there will be a “surge” in demand once restaurants reopen.

“We just have to tread very carefully, listen to the government, get the right sort of support from the landlords. HMRC have been tremendous, the government with the furlough scheme has been instrumental.

“We are going to open up, we are going to be back strong and treat this as a new opening and something better than we were doing before we closed,” he said.

However, like others in the industry, he warns that businesses must be “incredibly careful” when they reopen.

“We have to imagine these as new openings. Forget salt and paper, it’s hand sanitiser. Forget the long-winded descriptions, forget table sides. It will be temperature checks, staff checks, regular testings. All these things have to come into play.

“We have to increase the security of our customers and we have to make sure they feel safe and incredibly well looked after. All those measures are being worked out and it’s a logistical nightmare.”

Ramsay operates restaurants in Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. He has 16 restaurants in London.

Dark Horse sold ‘five bottles every minute’ in February

5th May, 2020

US wine producer E&J Gallo was selling five bottles of its Dark Horse brand in UK supermarkets every minute by the end of February.

Over the past 12 months the Californian brand has grown by 33% by value in a still wine category that has grown by 1%, according to Nielsen scantrack data.

Part of this growth, Gallo said, was driven by Dark Horse Malbec, a new expression that was added to the range in 2019.

In turn, this was the main driver of growth for the entire US Malbec category in the UK, doubling its off-trade revenues by 100%.

Positive trends have also been recorded by Nielsen with Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon. As the best-selling expression in the brand’s portfolio, it is also the primary driver of growth in the premium Cabernet Sauvignon category in UK retail.


Global Cabernet Masters 2020: the results

5th May, 2020

Campari sales fall 5.3% in Q1, confirms Champagne Lallier acquisition

5th May, 2020

Italian drinks group Campari’s sales fell 5.3% at the start of the financial year, as the coronavirus outbreak took its toll on the demand for aperitifs.

The group, which makes Campari and Aperol, sold €360.2 million worth of drinks in the first three months of 2020, down from €370 million last year. It said that the closure of bars and restaurants around the world drastically hurt the growth of Aperol, which had until recently been one of Campari’s key growth drivers.

Demand for Aperol was practically flat in the first quarter compared with last year.

Gross profit was €209.0 million, down by 6.6% in value on a reported basis, and by 9.2% organically. This, it said, was driven by an “unfavourable sales mix by market and brand, in particular by the negative performance of the high-margin aperitifs business in Italy due to COVID-19.”

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Chief Executive Officer, said executives are taking “rapid actions to mitigate costs and preserve liquidity whilst remaining focused on our long term strategic agenda.”

This includes bringing forward programs designed to refine Campari’s e-commerce capabilities “to further strengthen our digital capabilities across the entire organisation.”

Kunze-Concewitz added that, due to Campari’s healthy cash flow, the company will not hold off on acquisitions this year.

The group strengthened its balance sheet last month by arranging a medium-term loan for up to €750 million with a consortium of banks.

“Our financial profile remains very solid,” he said.

“Looking at the long-term, we remain confident of the positive consumption trends and growth opportunities of our business. We will
continue to leverage the strength and resilience of our brands and business, ensuring we are strongly positioned and ready to accelerate our growth as soon as the consumer demand normalises.”

The group is now set to become the first Italian company to own a Champagne brand. Campari used its preliminary results announcement to confirm its plans to by 80% of Champagne Lallier for €21.8 million.

Lallier was founded in 1906 in village of Aÿ in Champagne, and currently has 15 hectares of vineyards in the region. The business sold 1m bottles of Champagne in 2019, including close to 700,000 bottles of Lallier. Francis Tribaut will continue in his role as managing director of Champagne Lallier following the acquisition.

The sale should be completed by the third quarter of this year, according to Campari.

Krug releases 168th edition Grande Cuvée Champagne 

5th May, 2020

By way of a Zoom video webinar, Olivier Krug and winemaker Julie Cavil presented the latest edition of the Krug’s Grande Cuvée multi-vintage blend this morning – which is the 168th in the Maison’s history.

Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition will be available commercially from Friday 14 May at RRP £150.00.

Based around the harvest of 2012 – a vintage heralded as one of Champagne’s greatest this century – the blend comprises 198 different wines spanning 11 years, with the oldest being a Pinot Noir picked in 1996 from the grand cru village of Verzenay, according to Cavil.

Speaking about broad span of harvests within the Grande Cuvée, the youngest of which was the 2012 vintage, and the amount of time the Champagne ages in Krug’s cellars before release, Cavil stressed, “You need 20-25 years to craft a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée.”

She also said that due to the extensive use of reserve wines from older harvests, the multi-vintage blend always contains a mix of flavours from “fresh fruit, to dried fruit, and a drop of the antique shop.”

Meanwhile, addressing the subject of the 2012 base vintage for the 168 edition, Cavil said that it was a “very good vintage”, although it “tested the nerves of the growers” due to the wide range of “climatic incidents” during the season, from frost, rain and hail storms. It was also the driest ripening season since 1974.

As a result it was also a low-yielding harvest – 20% down on the average in Champagne – requiring the use of library wines at Krug to “calm down the concentration of 2012”, recalled Cavil.

Cavil, who officially became Krug’s chef de cave at the start of this year following the promotion of former cellar master Eric Lebel to deputy director of the house, said that the blending process at the maison has not stopped despite the coronavirus lockdown in France.

“We were in the middle of the the process of creating the 175th edition of Krug Grand Cuvée when the lockdown began,” she recorded, adding, “So I think in 2028-2030 [when this edition is released on the market] we will have a lot of anecdotes to tell,” she said.

Finalising the blend was made possible by separating the tasting panel, which comprises a minimum of six people, into three different rooms, ensuring that physical distancing guidelines were adhered to.

Holding up a sample of the 175 edition, she said that it comprised 166 different wines from 13 harvests, with the youngest being of course the 2019 vintage, and the oldest being from 2006 – which Cavil added was a “small plot from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. This latest Grand Cuvée will be bottled in June she said, at which point, “We shall close the book on this harvest and open the next one for 2020.”

As for the current release, Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition, the house describes the Champagne as an aromatically complex mix of “flowers in bloom, ripe, dried and citrus fruits as well as marzipan and gingerbread”, with a palate that “reveals flavours of hazelnut, nougat, barley sugar, jellied and citrus fruits, almonds, brioche and honey.”

Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition will be available commercially from Friday 14 May with a RRP of £150.

As with every Grande Cuvée release since 2016 – and now every rosé since 2018 – Krug features the édition number on the bottle, allowing collectors to easily track the vital statistics of the multi-vintage Champagne blend in their cellars.

The facts: Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition

  • Price: £150
  • Official release date: 14 May
  • The blend: 198 wines from 11 different years
  • Youngest vintage: 2012
  • Oldest vintage: 1996
  • Grape composition: 52% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 13% Meunier.
  • Reserve wines: 42% of the final blend
  • Cellaring: Seven years at Krug
  • Krug’s tasting note: “At first sight, the wine has a light golden colour and fine, vivacious bubbles. On the nose are aromas of flowers in bloom, ripe, dried and citrus fruits as well as marzipan and gingerbread. The palate reveals flavours of hazelnut, nougat, barley sugar, jellied and citrus fruits, almonds, brioche and honey.”

India lifts alcohol ban to increase state funds

5th May, 2020

The Indian government has lifted a 40-day ban on the sale of alcohol to boost tax revenue as long queues formed at stores yesterday.

On Monday (4 May) evening, the state government in Delhi imposed a 70% ‘corona fee’ tax on the sale of alcohol after police used batons to control crowds queuing for booze.

While some Indian states prohibit the production and consumption of alcohol, in others tax levied on beer, wine and spirits can contribute between 15 to 30% of total revenues, according to the Financial Times.

After strict lockdown measures in India, implemented in late March, began to be lifted, officials were forced to break up skirmishes outside liquor outlets.

While the state government in Delhi has imposed a levy to try and control the crowds, local police in Mumbai said stores would be issuing tokens to customers from today (5 May) to avoid over-crowding outside alcohol shops.

On 20 April the Indian government eased restrictions on farmers and some industries operating in remote areas or in districts that were not badly affected by Covid-19.

As part of the measures that have implemented this week, offices are permitted to operate at one-third capacity, certain shops have been allowed to reopen, and some vehicles are allowed on the road.

The News Minute reported that in some areas, the alcohol ban has resulted in the production of illicit homemade booze, while there has also been instances of people mistaking high-strength hand sanitiser for consumable alcohol.

According to the latest statistics, India has had a total of 46,476 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,571 deaths out of a total population of 1.38 billion.

Vijay Mallya takes appeal to Supreme Court to dodge extradition

5th May, 2020

Vijay Mallya has made his final roll of the dice by seeking permission from Britain’s Supreme Court to have the order to extradite him to India overturned.

(Photo: Wiki)

Last month, the UK Appeal Court rejected the case presented by the beleaguered former head of both United Breweries and United Spirits, finding in a 43-page ruling that there was a prima facie case for him to face trial in India on charges of conspiracy to defraud, misrepresentation, conspiracy and money laundering.

Since he fled to Britain in March 2006, Mallya has consistently denied the charges, which involve £1.15 billion he borrowed from Indian banks to keep his doomed airline business, Kingfisher, from collapsing.

“After the appeal was rejected, Mr. Mallya had 14 days to file an application in the High Court for an approval to appeal in the Supreme Court,” an official with India’s Enforcement Directorate said yesterday. “He has submitted the application, which is likely to be taken up soon. We are hopeful that the plea will be dismissed, given the strong observations in the April 20 judgment.”

If Mallya’s case is rejected by the Supreme Court, Britain will have 28-days in which to send him back to India, where a court in Mumbai has already declared him a fugitive under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

That may prove challenging given that India is in lockdown to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus and has banned all in-coming travel. If that remains the case, the UK courts would have the option of withdrawing his bail and holding him in a Britishjail until the extradition order could be enforced.

Top new products: May

5th May, 2020

Valdemonjas Abri Las Alas 2015

Based in Ribera Del Duero, Bodegas Valdemonjas neighbours the iconic Spanish winery Vega Sicilia, whose wines are praised the world over. Abri Las Alas is the estate’s flagship wine and is made from 60-year-old Tempranillo vines, which produce low yields of high-quality fruit. The grapes are grown in a south-facing vineyard that sits 805 metres above sea level. The wine then spends 18 months in French oak. Abri Las Alas, which has an ABV of 15%, translates as ‘I opened my wings’ in English.

RRP: £125.

Contact: Toasty Wine,