Spring has arrived, and beverage alcohol retailers are buzzing with bright wines to toast the new season. Retailers promote spring wines via social media posts, emails, shelf-talkers, and in-store tastings. “As the weather gets warmer, people start thinking of crisp and refreshing styles,” says Brooke Sabel, wine director of Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, with five locations in New Jersey and California. “These selections include wines from Vinho Verde, Txakolina, or Provence.”
Gary’s top-selling wines from each of those regions are Gota Azahar Vinho Verde ($11.99 a 750-ml.), Antxiola Getariako-Txakolina ($12.99), and Château Trians Coteaux Varois en Provence Rosé ($12.99). The four New Jersey stores—located in Bernardsville, Closter, Madison, and Wayne—sell a lot of Italian wine and Pinot Noir this time of year. There has been a large uptick for Spanish reds, and Gary’s is expanding its Portuguese and Spanish sections as well. France’s Sancerre is also holding strong. “Even with rising prices, Sancerre still is incredibly popular,” Sabel adds.
At the Gary’s shop in Napa, California, customers are typically locals or tourists. “For tourists, 95% of purchases are California Cabernet Sauvignon at a fairly high price point,” Sabel notes. “Locals tend to buy predominantly imports—likely because they are drinking their own wines during the day. Their purchasing preference turns to white Burgundy, Champagne, and Barolo.”
The three most popular wines from the Golden State at Gary’s this time last year are Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ($13.99 a 750-ml.), Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.99), and Fog Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99). “People are open to expanding their palates, and they want to learn along the way,” Sabel says. “We’re seeing an uptick in guests asking for organic, vegan, low-alcohol, and better-for-you category items.”
For the spring holidays, the Gary’s website featured approximately 100 offerings in its “Wines for Easter” section and 45 under the “Kosher Wines for Passover” heading. “We introduced a shelf-talker program specifically for spring wines,” Sabel says. “We’ve featured spring wines on social media posts and email promotions.”
Another new development: In-store tastings are back. “We have fully reopened our tasting bars, and the response from customers is overwhelmingly positive,” Sabel says. “We have always had incredible wines available to taste in our Napa Technology wine machines and we also pour featured wines throughout the weekend.”
Boutique Wines, Spirits, and Ciders in Fishkill, New York also recently started hosting larger tastings that feature several vendors and a different theme for each event. “Customers seem interested in variations of traditional flavor profiles,” says co-owner Paige Flori. “They’re more open to trying new grapes or different regions.”
The store’s customers tend to lighten their wine selections with warmer weather. “Often people are reaching for brighter, more acidic whites with a pop and some floral aspects,” Flori notes. Sauvignon Blanc remains a popular option, with Flori’s customers enjoying the French Bordeaux Château La Dame Blanche ($22 a 750-ml.), the Spanish offering Des Andres Sisters Alegra Verdejo ($12), and the Chilean brand Thresher ($10).
Sauvignon Blanc–Chardonnay and other blends are gaining traction through selections like Château Saint Martin de la Garrigue’s Pomponette Blanc ($14). “Other wines with similar flavor profiles are becoming popular, such as Saint Martin de la Garrigue Picpoul de Pinet ($19) because of its citrus and green apple notes and refreshing minerality,” Flori explains. “We’ve noticed that Areyna Torrontés ($15) from Argentina’s Salta region is trending, with its soft grapefruit flavor, white flower notes, and snappy acidity.”
Flori just brought in Chile’s Mayu Pedro Ximénez ($14), using a varietal traditionally grown in Spain for Sherry. “This style is fresh with bright lemon-lime flavors and a nice minerality,” she says. “Perfect for pairing with salads and shellfish.”