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Autumn Wine Sales Throughout France

Wednesday 15 September 2010

The traditional autumn wine sales have started in France, as stores across the country hold their traditional 'foires aux vins'.

Supermarket chains understand better than anyone that the French probably enjoy a bargain even more than they enjoy their wine, so it’s a match made in heaven for everyone.

The wine fairs also present the supermarkets with an excuse to create a festive atmosphere in their stores.

Even though it may yet be a bit early to deck the stores with boughs of holly, there is bunting everywhere, shelves heave with a vast array of wines, and experts are often on hand to offer advice. A flavoursome morsel of foie gras, cheese, or pâté often accompanies wine tastings.

To help buyers make a choice, the supermarkets also send out to all householders a catalogue of wines on sale, showing their own preferred choices and those wines that have received awards. It is well worth the effort to spend an evening studying all various offers and checking them out on the Internet before venturing out to buy.

Christine Vinzent, a leading French wine consultant, also says buyers need to choose with care. 'Most of the wines on offer will be generic brands from large producers. Although this does not mean they will be poor quality wines, it generally means they are consensual wines that offend no-one, but lack the distinctive character of a wine produced by an 'artisan vigneron', she says.

Indeed, the evidence of that view is shown by the dominance of wines from Bordeaux in the sales, many of which are being offered for sale at a reduced price, no doubt in many cases simply because the producer is unable to sell them by any other means.

That said, as many of the supermarkets are run locally on a franchise basis, you will find that good wines from the local area are also selected for the sale.

Analysts believe that during the month between mid- September to mid-October the stores shift up to 25% of their annual wine sales. Auchan claims to sell around 10 million bottles, whilst Carrefour 8 million bottles, and ‘U’ achieves sales of €35 million during this period. Other major players are Géant Casino and E. Leclerc. Sales from the main chains account for around 75% of all wines sales in France.

Neither is the wine fair restricted to the major supermarket chains, as on-line wine merchants also participate in the merrymaking. The major on-line merchants ChateauOnline, Wineandco, and 1855 all propose a wide range of offers, including free package and posting. They also normally stock a greater range of foreign wines than the supermarkets, although the best offers are still to be found amongst French wines.

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