Connoisseurs’ choice

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Since many of your customers love their wine, convincing them that they should invest in suitable storage for their precious collections shouldn’t be too much of a challenge – with all the occasions for celebration this summer, argues Anna Ryland.

A decade ago, few people would anticipate that wine cabinets would become a growth market in the UK, the country saddled with the dampest climate in Europe.

And yet, “apparently the UK is now the world’s largest importer of wine, by both volume and value, which means increasing numbers of consumers are looking for new, improved ways to store and preserve the taste of their wine by finding products that look good and, importantly, create the correct conditions, eg light, humidity and temperature,” says Steve Macdonald, marketing director, Hoover Candy.

“The wine cabinet sector has experienced considerable growth over the past twelve months as the increasingly fashionable ‘staying in is the new going out’ concept sweeps the nation. Value sales have been boosted by 20%, with the total category now worth almost £13m. The more affordable single temperature cabinets remain the leading type and account for 68% of the market, whilst the premium multi-temperature cabinets recorded a substantial 33% growth, and now make up almost a third of overall value sales,” explains Richard Allen, GfK account executive, MDA.

The current economic climate and a shift from eating out to entertaining at home helped this sector. “The consumer is retreating to a lifestyle based around the home and looking to improve their quality of life, seeking differentiators for the hub of their home. Consumers not only buy a wine cabinet to improve their drinking experience and preserve their wine, but they want to impress guests too,’ argues Simona Bara, Whirlpool’s product marketing manager, Built in.

Technology that cares for wine

As the Brits travel increasingly further afield and experience a variety of local drinks they wish to recreate their experiences back at home. Wine cabinets are expected to provide optimum conditions for storing a wide choice of drinks.

More sophisticated temperature controls are key for optimum preservation of speciality wines. “LED lighting and dual level zones remain the standout features that consumers are looking for. The capacity to store and serve both red and white wines at the perfect temperatures is especially key,” comments Jon Brennan, commercial manager for Built-In at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances.

Miele KWT4974SGed wine cabinet offers separate temperature zones for red, rosé and white wines to ensure that all served at the right temperature.  It regulates the temperature inside the cabinet between 5°C and 20°C, and if the temperature drops below the pre-set level, it will automatically switch from cooling to heating in order to maintain the chosen temperature and protect the wine.

“Wine cabinets with anti-vibration gaskets and low vibration compressors prevent disturbance to the wine’s sediment balance. While thermo electric technology is only capable of cooling to 15C, compressor cooling systems will maintain precisely the right temperature, regardless of the ambient room temperature. White LED lighting will also prevent wines from prematuring early,” explains Danny Lay, Caple sales director.

In the future, the damaging effect of light will also be reduced. “Future advances will include glass doors that switch to ‘black out’ at the touch of a button. GE already does this in the US and it enables the consumer to use the product more flexibly – showing off quality wines when they have them and hide other products when necessary,” says GDHA’s Jon Brennan.

Product developments

The wine storage market has evolved into two essential categories.  At the premium end there are multi-temperature cabinets that offer the benefits of refrigeration climate technology, such as humidity and temperature control, LED lighting and low-vibration compressors. The entry category is represented less sophisticated wine and beer chillers.

“At the moment the under-counter sector of the market remains quite commodity driven. At GDHA we have purposely not branded our wine chillers so that they can be incorporated into any kitchen and appliance set up. There is limited product differentiation until you get to the premium brands,” explains GDHA’s Jon Brennan.

GDHA’s drink cabinets start from just a 15cm wide wine chiller which holds seven bottles through to a 60cm 46 bottle capacity product and a 90cm drink cooler that takes 180 330ml bottles.

At the other end, there are sophisticated wine cabinets “such as Whirlpool’s ARC229, that includes an electronic control system for a perfect level of humidity with specially developed low vibration dampers to ensure undisturbed storage. These cabinets are engineered to ensure that the wine is matured to perfection and provide the optimum storage solution,” says Simona Bara.

The Electrolux Professional Division supplies professional kitchens in Europe. “Professionals demand appliances that deliver outstanding results reliably and efficiently and make it easier for them to do their jobs. It’s only natural we adapt the same principles in product development. The Electrolux wine cellar (with 98 bottle capacity) has been designed to enhance and team up with other products from the new Inspiration range that combines stylish looks with great performance,” says Andrew Wasdell.

Caple’s Wi6225 wine cabinet from the Sense range features dual zones and electronic temperature controls ensuring that cabinet will maintain exactly the right temperature for wine storage. Caple’s sales director Danny Lay says: “Holding an impressive total of 38 Bordeaux-style wine bottles, the Sense Wi6225 is perfect for all sorts of occasions.”

The Candy wine cooler CCVB 120 features UV protected glass which helps to preserve wine quality. With a twin-layer tinted glass and stainless steel finish it provides a perfect storage solution for households and wine connoisseurs alike.

The aesthetics

Wine cabinets are aspirational products; their owners are proud of their drink collections and want to show them off in the best possible ‘housing’, so design is of key importance in this market.

At a premium end, “when customers are purchasing a wine cooler as part of a much larger kitchen refurb, the price of the individual models becomes less important, says Electrolux’s Andrew Wasdell.  He also argues that an increased interest in home entertaining leads to greater focus on how the kitchen looks, and there may be a demand for ‘hero’ appliances. “Integrated wine coolers are both practical and create a stunning focal point in the kitchen.”

Celebrating in style

This product sector continues to grow not only because people choose
to entertain more at home. As our life become more stressful and hectic, a growing number of us relax at home with a glass of wine after a busy day.

This summer will provide many opportunities for celebrations – with the Olympics, the Euro 2012 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – being the high profile ones. What a perfect timing to promote wine cabinets and drink chillers, even if the weather lets us down! N

Sales tips

•        Help your customers imagine how that beautiful wine cabinet would look in their kitchen – so display them stocked with wine.

•        Find out about the consumer’s lifestyle – how often do they buy wine, and do they require a wine cabinet to store wine for long periods of time? Are they interested in a drinks chiller to take the pressure off the refrigerator or do they want to create a ‘focus’ in the kitchen?

•        Learn about wine and wine storage.

•        Don’t forget to point out to the energy rating of the cabinets. It is going to stay high on the consumers’ agenda, so make sure that your staff understands energy labels.

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