Q & A - New Wine Style and Sweetness Descriptors

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1. What is the purpose of the How to Shop for Wine thematic promotion?

We have created a promotion around the theme of how to shop for wine at the LCBO for a very straightforward reason: because many customers have told us that they find buying wine to be a confusing thing to do. In fact, they told us that they would like us to make their wine shopping experience an easier one.

To help simplify wine buying at the LCBO for the customer, the promotion highlights 5 ways to shop: by country, by wine style, by varietal, by sweetness descriptor and by food match. Special attention has been given to highlighting two NEW tools to help customers choose a wine with confidence. As of P2, customers will be able to use our new wine styles and sweetness descriptors to help them navigate our stores and find a wine they will like.

2. When will this promotion take place?

From April 29 - May 26, 2012.

3. What is the purpose of wine style descriptors?

Wine style descriptors have been developed to help customers discover new products that have a similar taste profile to match their individual preference.

4. What are the benefits of wine styles within the retail environment?

Wine styles break the portfolio into smaller categories based on the primary sensory characteristics of the wine. The store becomes easier to shop, with simple and straightforward information about the products for those who may be challenged by the complexity of a region of origin, varietal character, and wine label language.

5. What are the new wine style descriptors?

For red table wine:

  • Light-bodied and fruity
  • Medium-bodied and fruity
  • Full-bodied and smooth
  • Full-bodied and firm

For white table wine:

  • Light and crisp
  • Off-dry and fruity
  • Aromatic and flavourful
  • Full-bodied and rich

6. Do the new wine styles apply to all wines?

Although the Wine Shopping Made Easy promotion will focus primarily on red and white table wines, wine styles will also be introduced for rose table wines, as well as fortified, sparkling & dessert wines.

7. What is the purpose of sweetness descriptors?

Sweetness descriptors are intended to describe the level of perceived sweetness - the taste sensation that consumers encounter when tasting a wine.

8. Do the new sweetness descriptors apply to all wines?

No. Sweetness descriptors will only be assigned to table wines.

9. What are the new sweetness descriptors and how will they be displayed?

The sweetness descriptors will be displayed in an abbreviated format using one or two characters.

  • XD (Extra Dry)
  • D (Dry)
  • M (Medium)
  • MS (Medium Sweet)
  • S (Sweet)

10. How will sweetness descriptors be assigned?

Sweetness Descriptors are assigned based on an algorithm that looks at the relationship between the residual sugar and total acidity of a wine through chemical analysis by our Quality Assurance Laboratory.

11. What validation was performed to ensure the assigned sweetness descriptors are accurate?

Quality Assurance performed extensive sensory evaluation, analytical testing and consumer research to validate the sweetness descriptors based on the sugar to acid ratio.

12. What is the relationship between total residual sugar and total acidity as it relates to sweetness descriptors?

Two wines with the same amount of total residual sugar may be perceived as having different sweetness levels depending on the amount of total acidy present. For example, a wine with 8 g/L residual sugar and 5 g/L acid may be perceived as being dry whereas the same wine with 8 g/L sugar and 7 g/L acid may be perceived as being extra dry.

13. Will there be any changes to the existing sugar codes?

The current sugar codes (the bracketed numbers you see on bin tags) will be replaced with the one or two letter sweetness descriptor followed by the actual residual sugar content expressed in grams per litre (g/L).

14. Why are the current sugar codes being replaced?

The new system tells consumers exactly how much residual sugar is in a wine. The old sugar code is based on a scale with each number having a different range.  For example, a sugar code (0) could contain up to 5 grams per litre of sugar and a sugar code (1) could contain between 5 and 15 grams per litre of sugar.

15. What is the actual sugar content?

The actual sugar content is the total amount of residual sugar present in the wine.

16. How does the actual sugar content differ from sugar codes?

The actual sugar code content is the amount of residual sugar remaining in the wine determined through chemical analysis. The sugar code is a range, e.g., a wine with a sugar code (1) could contain between 5 and 15 grams per litre of sugar.

17. Why is actual sugar content important?

The actual sugar content is important information for health conscious consumers who want to monitor their sugar intake.

18. Is the new actual sugar content system exclusive only to wine?

Yes. The actual sugar content will replace the old sugar code for all products that currently display sugar codes, e.g., table wines, dessert wines, fortified wines, sparkling wines, flavoured wines and wine based coolers/RTD's.

19. Do all wines contain sugar?

Yes. All wines contain a small amount of residual sugar. These are known as unfermentable sugars which cannot be fermented by yeasts.

20. What is the lowest amount of residual sugar in a wine?

Generally, all wines contain a least 2 g/L sugar of unfermentable sugar. Therefore the lowest number that will appear on a bin ticket is 2.

21. Why are liqueurs excluded?

By Canadian law all liqueurs must contain a minimum of 25 g/L sugar.

22. Where will customer and staff be able to locate information about wine styles/ sweetness descriptors and actual sugar content?

This information will be displayed:

  • on the NEW bin tags
  • on the Wine Shopping Made Easy – microsite
  • via customer videos – available for download by scanning QR codes and bin ticket bar codes in-store
  • on the product search web pages on lcbo.com
  • in Staff Guide, Staff Videos and our knowledgeable retail staff

For the duration of the Period 2 promotion, the information will also appear on In-store backer cards and in a customer brochure available in section (the customer brochure will be reprinted and replenished throughout the remaining periods of the fiscal year).

23. Who should Retail staff contact to obtain additional information about the new wine styles, sweetness descriptors and residual sugar content?

Questions relating to Wine Styles may be directed to Greg Dunlop, Category Manager, European Wines.

Questions relating to Sweetness Descriptors and Residual Sugar Content, may be directed to Leonard Franssen, Manager, Quality Services.

24. Who should customers contact to obtain additional information about the new wine styles, sweetness descriptors and residual sugar content?

Customers should direct their inquiries to Hello LCBO, 1-800-668-5226 or 416-365-5900 or on-line at http://hellolcbo.com.

25. Will store layouts change as a result of these new initiatives?

In Period 11, 2012, stores started to re-planogram their stores to support a by varietal merchandising strategy. At this time, there are approx. 150 stores that are merchandised by country/by varietal. More stores will be added over the coming periods.

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