Wine merchant Oddbins has announced the launch of its amateur wine tasting event as it seeks to revitalise its in-store experience.
Free to enter, the competition will run over two weekends starting on June 1st 2013 across the retailer’s 34 branches with two more rounds to follow at the end of June and later in July.
As many as 8,000 wine enthusiasts are expected to take part following the competition’s debut last year, which saw a Camden Council employee become the winner of the best amateur palate in the UK.
“Consumers shouldn’t be intimidated by descriptions of wine tasting like chilled gooseberry posset or walking naked through the long grass or anything else as pretentious,” SAID Oddbins’ managing Director Ayo Akintola.
“At Oddbins we are dedicated to proving that wine tasting and appreciation need not be an intimidating experience and the Palate is part of our commitment to listening and responding to consumers.”
In the final round, candidates will take part in a wine tasting ‘boot camp’ and “final gruelling challenge” with master of Wine of BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Susie Barrie and Peter Richards.
While hundreds of bottles of wine will be available to win as part of the contest, the winner will be flown with a companion of their choice for a 10-day trip to the world’s leading vineyards in Australia and New Zealand.
At a time when retailers are desperately looking for new ways to engage with shoppers in both the physical and digital space, Oddbins believes that traditional face-to-face service is crucial to its appeal.
“Social media is a vital channel in which to engage consumers, however at Oddbins our customers gain great value from face to face engagement with our store personnel,” an Oddbins spokesperson told Retail Gazette.
“They appreciate the informal individualised advice on wine they receive when in our stores.
“The Palate is just another way Oddbins is further engaging with consumers in our quest to make the appreciation of wine as democratic and unsnobby as possible.
“The ultimate aim is consumer engagement, our customers want to learn more about wine, for some this is via our website, for others it’s via updates on social media and for a significant number it is via visiting our stores and speaking to our colleagues in the branches.
“The one thing linking all of them together is the desire to improve their knowledge about wine and the Palate fits perfectly with help them achieve this desire.”