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Interview, Part 1: Bob Paulinski, BevMo’s Senior Vice President, Wine

October 27, 2015

One of the country’s largest beverage alcohol retailers, BevMo operates around 155 stores across California, Arizona and Washington, up from about 130 stores two years ago. The chain’s wine selection is particularly broad, running from entry-level offerings up through high-end Champagne retailing in the $100-plus range. Shanken News Daily associate editor Christina Jelski recently spoke with Bob Paulinski, BevMo’s senior vice president of wine, to discuss trends he’s seeing in the business.

SND: What emerging developments are you monitoring on the wine side?

Paulinski: One thing we’re seeing—which is an offshoot of the popularity of red blends—doesn’t really have a clear name yet, but some suppliers are calling them “dark blends,” or sometimes “black blends.” They’re essentially red blends that have an extremely deep color to them, with a very pronounced fruit character, very soft tannins and are generally high in alcohol. There’s really a tremendous call for these wines.

SND: In the imported wine category, what categories are gaining traction?

Paulinski: It’s still a small niche, but we’ve seen increased movement on Grenache-based wines. Some of that is Grenache-based rosé, but also Grenache-based reds. Some are from California, some from southern France and others are Spanish Garnacha. Some are Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre (GSM) blends. Grenache is seeing increased play in restaurants, especially on the West Coast, where you might go into a Spanish tapas-style place and find Garnacha by the glass. And that may be carrying over a bit to the off-trade as well.

SND: Rosé and sparklers continue to soar in most markets. How are trends looking at BevMo?

Paulinski: We’re definitely seeing much more interest in rosé, both still and sparkling—particularly dry rosé from around the Mediterranean, the South of France and Spain. And while there continues to be a significant spike in rosé sales in spring and summer, the autumn drop-off hasn’t been nearly as profound as in previous years. There’s still an ebb and flow, but off-season demand is much higher than we’ve ever experienced. And there continues to be tremendous interest in sparkling wine of any sort, whether Cava, Prosecco or small-house Champagne producers.

 

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