* Sales of alcoholic beverages in the UK have decreased by 6% in the last week of the five-week World Cup period compared to the same period a year ago, as interest in the soccer event has decreased in the last week of the tournament, despite reaching close to £ 1 billion in sales. Sales in the first three weeks of the tournament showed an increase, however. Champagne and sparkling wine showed the strongest growth in the past month. Cider sales decreased by 11% compared to a year ago. England’s early World Cup exit and better weather in July 2013 have been the cause of the beverage sales decrease.
* A Wine Intelligence study finds that UK wine drinkers almost equally accept cork and screw cap closures, at 40% each; Australians prefer screw cap wines (55%) to cork (38%); and in the USA cork is strongly preferred (64%) compared to screw caps (21%). The choice of closure is dictated by image and practicality, more than ‘scientific’ reasons of helping the wine to breathe, stifling ageing, or preventing spoilage.
* A new MasterCard Multi-currency Cash Passport has been launched, and is available at ABSA and American Express Foreign Exchange branches. The travel card has a pre-paid chip and is pin-protected. It can be loaded with US $, UK £, €uro, and Australian dollars. Specific currency amounts loaded onto the card prevents further currency conversion costs. Security features are built into the card, and back-up service is available 24/7.
* Villiera has launched Jasmine 2014, made from Muscat (43%), Riesling (33%), and Gewürztraminer (24%), a light floral and spicy easy drinking wine. (received via media release from Grapevine Publicity)
* Banting is the new buzzword, and restaurants are starting to offer their customers low/no carbohydrates, replacing bread with gluten-free bread, and potatoes, rice, and pasta with substitutes, such as using cauliflower for mash. 65 on Main in Green Point is only offering its customers a Banting menu, and has customers driving through from towns such as Worcester to get their Banting fix. Owner Whitney Wentzel only uses recipes developed by Professor Tim Noakes.
* Stellenbosch Hills has welcomed new grape supplier Werda Farm, which is headed by Erik Phinallephe as managing partner, after starting as a farm worker 18 years ago. Werda Farm is the 16th member of Stellenbosch Hills, a cellar which is 69 years old and which processes 9000 tons of grapes a year, to produce its quality wines. Werda Farm has leased its land from the Stellenbosch Municipality, and is a partnership between Erik and Paul Andrag, chairman of Stellenbosch Hills. Most of the vines on the farm were planted by Erik. To supply Stellenbosch Hills, strict supply and quality criteria must be met. New members are appointed if they buy or lease the land of an existing Stellebosch Hills supplier, and meet their requirements. Stellenbosch Hills was previously called Vlottenburg Co-operative, and changed its name in 2003. (received via media release from Waterford Communications)
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage