This week’s wine news: Total Wine takes on wine delivery, plus an IHOP that sells wine and the British government sticks it to wine drinkers
• Home delivery: Total Wine, the chain that wants to become the first national wine retailer, will offer same-day and scheduled delivery in select markets. Currently, the chain only does this kind of delivery in 13 cities in Virginia. The news release, written mostly in tech-speak, is difficult to understand, but the implication is that Total will roll out delivery where it’s legal as soon as it can. What makes this different from the recent rush of retailers announcing delivery? That Total isn’t doing delivery through a third-party service like Drizly or Instacart, but will apparently provide the service itself. That’s a tremendous undertaking in this era of outsourcing, but also speaks to Total’s close to the vest approach toward retailing.
• Wine with your Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity? A Phoenix IHOP has added a full-service bar, serving beer, wine, and cocktails. So yes, IHOP mimosas with your pancakes. The chain normally doesn’t let its franchisees do this sort of thing, but the IHOP is in a former Lone Star Steakhouse, and the bar was already in the restaurant. So why not take advantage of the situation?
• Raising wine taxes: The British government, trying to balance the budget while it leaves the European Union, has found one solution: Raise the import duty on wine. The Financial Times reports that the new rate will increase the cost of a bottle of wine by 7 pence (about a dime in U.S. dollars). What makes this story so odd is that the government isn’t raising the duty on beer or spirits, even though wine is now the most popular alcoholic beverage in the United Kingdom and it’s the sixth biggest wine market in the world.
This week’s wine news: First coffee wine, so why not iced tea wine? Plus, developments among wine delivery apps and a cork closure that doesn’t need a corkscrew
• Yes, it’s sweet: If there’s coffee wine, why not iced tea wine? Natchez Hills Winery, near Nashville, Tenn., has released a wine made with 100 percent sweet tea, fermented just like grapes are to make wine. And, since canned wine is trendy, says the winery’s news release, it comes in a can. What have we wrought with Drin
k Local? I haven’t tasted this, and not sure I want to (I drink unsweetened tea), but any Southerners in the audience who are brave enough are welcome to take notes and send them in. We’ll get them on the blog.
• Wine at your door: Liza Zimmerman, writing for Forbes, updates the overcrowded world of wine delivery apps like Drizly and Minibar: They remain mostly local, retailers are increasingly wary of letting someone else handle their delivery, and opportunities abound. Sort of, anyway, given Amazon’s withdrawal from the market and the increasing presence of grocery store delivery services like Instacart.
• Just like a screwcap: Hate corks, but miss the cork popping when you open a bottle of wine? Then consider wine using the Helix closure – it has threads so it can be unscrewed, but is made of cork . The catch? It’s not on many wines yet. The most interesting bit? That Anorim, the world’s leading cork producer, is the company that developed the Helix. I guess if you can’t beat screwcaps, you might as well copy them.
Yes, pizza and wine make sense if you’re sitting in a corporate conference room trying to figure out the post-modern 21st century restaurant business, what with GrubHub and Amazon and all the rest. But at the store level – and that’s what I know about from my Pizza Today experience – trying to make alcohol delivery work may be one of the dumbest things you’ve ever done.
That’s because of something called the three-tier system, which regulates alcohol sales and distribution in the U.S. I’m sure one of your attorneys would be happy to explain it to you in detail, but all you really need to know is that three-tier is so complicated and so byzantine – and different in every state – that even Amazon gave up trying to deliver wine. And the companies that do deliver it, like Drizly, can’t believe how difficult the law is.
This one example should demonstrate how all powerful three-tier is. Let’s say you find a wine to deliver, but it doesn’t have a distributor in one of the states you’re doing delivery. So you can’t use it, and you have to find a different wine for that state. Silly? Of course. Cheese doesn’t work that way. Or tomato sauce. But wine does.
And this doesn’t take into account trying to find a wine that’s priced fairly, delivers quality, and won’t insult your customers. See, for example, the problems that Blue Apron had – and how much better off would the CEO have been if he had read my post?
Again, the let lawyer give you the details about three-tier. All I want to do is to give you a head’s up to save you from a multi-million dollar mistake. That’s the least I can do for old time’s sake.