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Choice of Wines


A comment in another discussion brought back to my mind something I wonder about from time to time. According to the website (I think), TWS offers about 1,500 wines. I haven’t checked it myself but using this figure it would take me about 10-15 years to try every wine (assuming I could afford them). This seems to me to be a pretty good choice.

By removing less popular wines and focussing on better sellers the Society could, I presume, reduce its running costs and consequently the prices to members. Conversely I would imagine, the larger the choice, the higher the costs involved.

Perhaps this has been discussed previously, I dont know, but I wonder if the 1,500 number has been calculated in some business-based manner, or is it just the number we’ve reached over the years. Should it be increased, should it be reduced, is it an optimal number?

I’m curious about whether anyone else has considered this and has any views on the subject?


But wouldn’t that take away an essential part of what the Wine Society is about? If you want the keenest price on a limited range of wines then I’m sure Lidl and Aldi will work.

Anyway, who knows when a ‘less popular’ wine is going to become a best seller too?

I am sure that they do occasionally prune the list for ones that don’t sell well, but some wines are produced in volumes that by definition won’t be mass market.


There must be some model, enough to give a good selection, but not too much that stock is held that needs to be reduced later. Although depending on what you drink you may only have a limited choice.


“The focus, as defined in 1874, continues to be to make available to members the highest possible quality of wines and services at the best possible prices.”

Taken from history of the Society. If you replaced members with customers it probably could pretty much apply to Aldi or Lidl. It would come down to whether you wanted more emphasis on the highest quality, or on the best possible prices; these aims are perhaps a bit contradictory.

But I was really wondering more about the 1,500. Has this number been fairly steady over a number of years? Why not 1,000, or 2,000 for that matter? One of the problems of what teachers used sometimes to call an enquiring mind, and other times a pain the neck!


I’m sure we could all name plenty of wines we’d love to see MORE of (more Montefalco and Brunello from me). So maybe 1500 isn’t enough? In the same way that I never seem to have enough at home or in reserves no matter how much I buy :thinking: where do you draw the line?


1500 wines & 10-15 years for you to try every wine… one suggestion for you…drink wine more frequently…bit of practice and you should get that down to 4 years :wink:

The whole thing about TWS is that it doesn’t have to operate on the same model as others. Whilst it has to cover all those pesky operational costs like wages and upkeep etc I doubt reducing the wines on offer would have much of an impact on financial savings - and I trust the Society operates as efficiently in these maters as it can through the expert staff and the guidance of the Committee members.

If I were at TWS it is through feedback from members (such as via this forum) that I would be assessing if I have my offering correct - are they happy or not ? eg there is a discussion about the lack of good Italian white wines…perhaps that needs a more focused approach.

For a more analytical approach, there is always the good old “days on stock” evaluation…do they have slow movers ? but always difficult where you are (on purpose) cellaring items for long periods of time.


TWS may as well stock too many wines, many of its members do the same! :joy:



I’m not sure that there would be much - or any - savings if the Society were to reduce the number of lines offered. They run a highly computerised stock system I believe which is likely to be covered over the number of bottles they sell rather than the number of different lines. Or to put it another way, there would be a minimal amount saved if they ditched a number of low-volume lines.

What I suppose would tie up capital significantly would be high-value lines being stored till maturity, though ultimately one would expect them to be profitable once sold.


It’s also a fair bit more than 1500 lines. 1500 online at any one time, maybe, but the numbers from each country seem to change a fair bit depending on which offers are live at any single point in time. Plus the en primeur deals, many of which don’t appear as wines on the main list, would add another couple of hundred at least.

Personally, the breadth of range is one of the major reasons I am a member (affinity with the cooperative/mutual model, and keen prices on certain niche wines being the others). It would be more efficient, logistically speaking, to stock fewer lines, but given relative purchasing power I doubt it would enable price competition with the supermarkets, and I suspect you’d lose a fair number of members to boot.