Over the past few weeks, I have taken a keener interest in trying to understand what wines - and more importantly, why - are being served at a number of the restaurants in Jamaica. The server might offer the usual white and red selection, but when pressed for more information, as I usually do, few know what brands or varietals they actually have to serve. When they do eventually run and bring the bottles, I try my best not to be a wine snob while looking at these bottles that I don't believe should be served in an establishment of this calibre.
Categories or Segments of Wines
The wine industry has no formal segmentation, but a number of analysts have been categorising wines and producers, some of which have been widely accepted by most. The most detail I found broke down wines into nine segments, which were further summarised in groups of three. They are (from low to high price) : Everyday Wines: Jug, Extreme Value, Fighting Varietal; Premium: Popular Premium, Mid-Premium, Super-premium; Luxury: Ultra-Premium, Super-Luxury, Icon.
The basic everyday wine segment that makes up about 50 per cent of the global wine market is anonymous, usually with little or no connection to vineyards, regions or sometimes even countries. These might be found as pouring wines in large hotels and restaurants globally.
The premium wines are approximately 30 per cent of the global market, sold through supermarkets and are linked to distant brands rather than vineyards and cellar identification. The super-premium segment is about 10 per cent of the market and are all about quality, style and the story surrounding the wine. The final 10 per cent is the very high-end luxury that is highly distinctive, not sold in mass retail, usually collectable and it's the icon tip of the market. Some argue that value is mainly linked to the actual of purchasing them.
Multi-segment players in our market
Wines from a number of large producers are sold in Jamaica that have products in almost every segment of the wine price/quality/identity scale. Let's look at a producer like Concha y toro; on our shelves are Frontera , Sunrise, Casillero del Diablo, Trio, Marques de Casa Concha, Terrunyo, and Don Melchor. Robert Mondavi is another example starting from premium with Woodbridge, Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Robert Mondavi Napa, Robert Mondavi Reserve. Beringer has California Collection, Founder Estate, Knights Valley, and Beringer Napa Valley. Undurraga has the varietals, Aliwen, Sibaris, and now the TH. Recently, Bill Hardy was in Jamaica conducting training sessions mostly around this same topic. They have Hardys Stamp, Hardys Nottage Hill, Hardys Oomoo, luxury brand Eileen Hardy and Icon Thomas Hardy. Most distributors usually import two to three tiers of product from producers - for some, it's all about sales and moving volume, others want to ensure that they have something for everyone.
In summary, restaurateurs, there are choices. So do try to match the wine with your target market, even with the few you might have in stock.
Chris Reckord - Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter: @DeVineWines @Reckord