We have Laithwaites 4 Seasons cases delivered, one every, well, season. There aren’t expensive, and they provide lots of opportunities to play ‘guess that wine’ as they often have non-traditional grapes or combinations, and wines from places and producers I wouldn’t normally select.
Each case came with natty little tasting note cards which included a picture of the label, a map of the region, serving and tasting notes along with some random puff piece about each wine. The really useful thing was that each set came pre-hole-punched to go into a binder, so you could keep all the notes, and know what you liked not only wine by wine, but also spot any trends.
This month they’ve switched to a little booklet with all the same notes, supplemented with extra marketing copy, but no individual cards and no holes punched. It’s a step back. The booklet quickly made its way to the recycling as it has no sensible home.
I keep notes on wine, write down what I’ve had, even photograph bottles, so I know what to shop for and what to avoid so this wasn’t an essential service for me. I did like it though. I thought it was a useful introduction for people who don’t normally keep wine notes and provided accessible information in a non-patronising way to help people build their love of wine. I’m sure it will save Laithwaites a few quid in the short term, but it looks to me like a way to reduce loyalty and decrease customers’ learning, reducing the chances of trading up.