Following yesterday’s – unusually widely-read-and-commented-on – post detailing my view of the apartheid separating wine and food, I’d like to ask readers of this blog what they honestly think of the concept – the personalized Recipe Collection e-book – we were working on when we discovered the rarity of wine-and-food photographs.

If you haven’t already looked at it (via the link above, followed by downloading an e-book), stated simply, the Collection is a hopefully innovative attempt to breathe life into some of the thoughts I’ve expressed here and elsewhere. It’s about looking for ways to approach wine marketing and communication differently. It unashamedly is not about talking to the small minority who read wine magazines, books or blogs, visit wine shops or chat to sommeliers; the target is the mass of UK wine drinkers who do most of their buying in supermarkets and probably know the names of little more than a handful of grape varieties and brands. 

The company with which we created the concept is McGuigan, Britain’s 8th biggest wine brand and the name that appears on the labels of 40-50m bottles, most of which sell for £4.50-£8. This is mainstream British wine drinking… 

Consumers will get to the Recipe Collection by scanning a QR Code on the back label of McGuigan bottles or magazine advertisements, or via links on Facebook and elsewhere. People are currently scanning these codes at the rate of nearly one bottle per hour. 

To be blunt, I’m really not looking for people’s thoughts on Australian wine in general or McGuigan as a brand; or John Torode’s recipes or Neil McGuigan’s specific food-and-wine matches. What I’m interested in is reactions to the notion of inviting consumers effectively to direct their own food-and-wine show.

This particular effort was the culmination of a year’s efforts by a team that includes software developers in Toulouse and Chattanooga, website and microsite designers on opposite sides of London, John Torode, food and props stylists, a photographer and many, many hours from people at McGuigan.

However, many of the lessons we are learning from this exercise could and will be applied to wineries with far more limited resources, and we are in fact working on a couple of smaller projects with budgets that are a fraction of the one devoted to McGuigan.

  1. Hi Robert,

    Copyright problem; 'Ask consumers what they actually like and dislike first' is stolen from my wine advising routine 🙂 But no seriously, it's all good, intuitive stuff & looks like a good solution for the right consumers. I do think though that most people probably still look for a bottle to match with food rather than vice versa & no matter how easy to cook, can't often be bothered to stray from their usual food cupboard menu (I love food & drink & I'm very much like that). It’s of course unrelated to QR but is there a gap for a supermarket section which replaces nation/region labels with food labels, along the lines of this excellent Fiona Beckett page?

    Tyrone: @winesonlyadrink

  2. Hi Tyrone… We absolutely agree. The McGuigan concept is initially based on the notion of people knowing that they are going to cook cod or a burger or whatever and wondering what to drink with it… But there's also the other side of the equation: people who've already bought a bottle and are wondering what to do with it. Match the tie to the shirt or vice versa.
    And I greatly like Fiona's stuff. Tesco has flirted with a section called “greatwith”… My instinct is that it makes more sense as an online effort where wines can be sorted in any way the customer wants. We'll then see just how relevant food-and-wine matching really is.

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