Retailers Decide How and What to Stock as Wine Sales Go Through the Roof

The novel coronavirus has impacted every area of business—and that includes the wine marketplace. Atlanta wine shop owner Steffini Bethea has been sharing more bottles at home than ever with her husband, despite their differing tastes. She likes Cabernets while Sheldon prefers Malbecs; they compromise on red blends.

Bethea wonders if the customers doing curbside pickup at her store are making choices in a similar vein. "I think that's why the blends are selling, because people are able to share them easier—'I'm taking home a bottle we will both like.' I’m leaning toward this too because we're together more," she said.

Nielsen data states that red blends increased 35% between March and May of 2020; orange wine sales increased by 39%, and both Pinot Noir and sparkling wines grew by 25%.

Customers are also buying more Champagne than usual—wine bar owner Jason Zuliani in Burlington, Vermont agrees that people need to "bring a little extra joy to the scene. David Mayfield, a wine shop owner in Waco, Texas, believes that light wines and low-alcohol parklers are better for those staying at home.

"It seems like people are drinking more," he says. "People might want to drink at lunch and don't want as heavy a wine."

Bethea has noticed that customers are more willing to engage with her in the store, which might be encouraging people to try new wines. "Everyone wants to talk because they've been in the house," she said. "When customers come to the shop, they have an idea about what they want, but now, we're having a deeper conversation with them."

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