Wine Trade Fairs


If you are interested in finding out developments in the world of wines, then trade fairs are a good place to start. Theoretically they are only open to members of the trade, but interested wine club officers can usually get a ticket, with a little persuasion. One advantage over wine merchants’ or magazine shows is that entrance is free – the disadvantage is that they are only open during working hours, usually midweek.

There are normally several hundred wines on offer, so you need to develop a technique to rapidly assess the wines - without swallowing too much! You also need to plan, so that you can see the wines that you are particularly interested in. If you want to be able to remember the wines and find them later, you need to take good notes. Electronic systems such as Tasting Buddy are becoming widely available.

Trade fairs are often organised by the wine board of a particular country or region. This spring there have been shows for the Austrian, Chilean, Argentine and Italian producers, amongst others, all in central London . Several of them repeated the show in other centres, particularly Manchester . There are stalls representing individual producers, often looking for UK distribution, and usually with the winemaker in attendance. Other tables are taken by UK agencies and merchants who represent estates and are looking to increase their sales. Quite often, there is a long table with wines grouped by theme, so that you can do some comparative tasting. The audience include retailers, restaurants and other buyers in larger or smaller quantities.

The biggest of the trade fairs is the International, held at the Excel Centre in London Docklands in May. For three days, thousands of wines (plus spirits) are shown on hundreds of stalls. There are features such as the ‘hundred best rosés’ where you can compare wines from different countries and makers in a particular style. The International Wine Challenge is judged immediately before the fair, and many of the wines are featured there. There are ‘villages’ for agents, countries and the spirits trade, as well as huge displays from the big importers.

If you are interested in finding out about trade shows in your local area, talk to your friendly local wine merchant, who should be able to give you more information.