One question/suggestion. I have very limited ‘cellar grade’ storage at home and want to be able to keep all wines taken from reserves in excellent condition. The rule about cases from reserves being from no more than four different wines makes this tricky as ideally I would draw down 1 - 3 bottles from five or six wines from each case to maintain a balance of older/newer, style and ‘specialness’. The four wines rule means you can never really leave a single bottle in reserves and you have to plan ahead quite a bit as to what is drawn down when. Would it be a really significant burden to move to allowing mixed cases from six different wines? Surely the order fulfilment systems are the same for delivery of purchases and reserve withdrawals?
I’ve grumbled about this before as well - after all everything has a price and if it does involve extra effort I for one would be happy to pay extra for it
One option is to consolidate your stock with another merchant who will allow you to withdraw single bottles. The storage charge will be higher than the Society and there is also likely to be a delivery charge. Or you can buy a wine cabinet for home… there’s a thread on that subject on its own here.
I did find this a little annoying as well but in the end I bought my own cabinet (a Climadiff). Personally the point at which I was holding enough in TWS reserves to think about withdrawing 1 bottle from 12 different cases also coincided with the point that I had so much other wine around at home, from TWS or otherwise, I needed one anyway!
It’s definitely not a purchase I regret, and it also allows you to pick up other wine at retail that needs cellar storage without having to worry about it - e.g. the supermarkets do very good vintage fizz offers which I have frequently taken advantage of, and have no intention of drinking for several years.
Which cabinet did you go with? I just had a basic wine fridge which holds around 30 bottles, tempted to upgrade to something a bit larger at some point as looking at the various EP offers I have wines allocated from I might need some more good storage space soon!
I went with this Climadiff in the end - ask anyone and they will tell you “buy the biggest you can fit in”. Your collection will always grow more than you think, and mine is certainly pretty full most of the time these days. It’s a pretty big item but not unattractive (especially when you consider what’s inside!) I got mine with a solid door as its kept in the garage but they do a fancier glass one as well. So far its worked flawlessly.
Thanks for that, its certainly something I will consider in the near future, my current wine fridge is full, need to go for a larger sized one as not all bottles are the standard Bordeaux sized so therefore some shelves aren’t full but you can’t fit any more on them.
Thanks all. I have an 18 bottle fridge although it only holds that much if everything is Bordeaux-shaped. I suppose that without the rule changing the strategy is to plan what needs to be kept properly and what will get drunk on an ‘everyday’ basis in the near future and can be left out.
One way to withdraw smaller quantities of special wines is to buy your ‘house wines’ and also put them in reserves - then when you withdraw a case you simply pick eg 6 of your house white, then 2, 2, 2 or whatever. As long as you withdraw all your cheaper wines before the annual date on which you pay for storage, I don’t think you pay anything - if I understand the system right? Perhaps someone from the Society could confirm this.
I do this with ‘house’ halves which is even more efficient; however it is a cost effectively; let’s say I pay GBP 5.50 per half - that comes to a hefty fee of GBP 33 - I’d rather pay an extra tenner to withdraw 6 bottles in total…
My model for how this should work is Lay and Wheeler where I can withdraw any quantity of any wine I store with them for a flat fee of GBP 10.
If you decide to go down the route of buying a cabinet (it’s not a fridge for the pedants) ensure you buy bigger capacity than you think you will need. I have two Liebherr cabinets in which I store everything.
I concur with this. I have a Liebherr cabinet and I will have to buy another one next year!!
Thank you - it sounds right up my street. This is an example of when I wish I knew how much stock was left. I have enough wine at home for the next two months - but know if I wait that long, it might have sold out.
I’m familiar with the sixes / dozen conundrum. There are often wines I’d buy six of to put in reserves but not twelve. I’ve never really understood the rationale for why its not possible with TWS to put half a case of twelve in reserves, when it is possible to put a case of six. Perhaps someone can shed some light on this?
To take this question to the extreme, Lay & Wheeler allow single bottle purchases to reserves (IB or DP); I imagine the issue is not the number of bottles, but the logistics of splitting the case.
Since its not uncommon (outside of TWS it should be said) for 6 bottles to be priced at a small premium to 12, could not TWS adopt new policies and charge a premium for them, effectively subsidising standard practise?
Perhaps the concern is that this would open the floodgates and significantly change the warehouse management process, or lead to lower sales.
I assume TWS have assessed this and decided against.
Interestingly, I could buy a case of 12 and then could transfer 6 to another member without problem…
I wondered this - but then TWS happily put together mixed cases of 12 different wines, so presumably splitting cases is not too much of an issue.
Yes, I guess so, it would be interesting to know. Perhaps it is a slippery slope sort of thing.
As I don’t have a lot of storage at home and only drink in relatively small quantities, it would be a boon to have a more flexible, small scale reserves scheme.
The plot thickens…
But it’s notable that if placed in reserves these mixed cases cannot be broken.
Perhaps someone from TWS can explain what is really going on here? In particular how is the cost benefit analysis done for preparing a mixed case vs breaking a mixed case?
This is a very good question, but as you might expect, a reasonably complex one to answer. We therefore asked a couple of key staff in Fine Wine and in the Warehouse for their replies so we could give you a fuller response.
The simple response is this:
We have looked at this issue in some detail a while ago. When we investigated the logistics of storing small quantities it would necessitate changing the warehouse system both physically and from a systems point of view. So it was decided at the time, in order to keep Reserve Rental as low as possible and to serve the majority of the membership, to offer what is our current system.
We would never say the system won’t be looked at again but at the moment we have decided that these specific, but limited options will help to keep the rent as low as we can.
And here, in case you are interested, is the longer and more technical answer:
First, we need to consider that:
• Members’ Reserves are stored in a separate warehouse from regular wines, and therefore there is an initial ‘transfer’ required when wines are moved into Reserves.
• These reserves are not stored in member-specific stacks/pallets/slots (i.e. you do not get your own cellar space) but in fact the bottles are grouped by wine code, with the ownership of each of the cases being specified in our stock system.
To pick a supplier-packed 6-bottle case we pick up a single box and send it to Reserves. No need for additional handling or extra packaging.
To pick 6 bottles from a 12-bottle case involves our manual bottle-pick team - We need to pick a full case of stock to replenish bottle pick, make up an empty 6 bottle box, we need to create a new case, pick the bottles themselves and then send it to Reserves.
It is about 3 times more efficient to pick in full cases versus bottle-pick cases. In addition, when it reaches Reserves, we check every case from bottle-pick to ensure the contents are correct – this is additional handling that we don’t do for pre-packed wines which reach us in the supplier’s own packaging. This is a further reduction in productivity and extra cost.
Rather than increase costs for members and have confusion about why some products in sixes stored in reserves attract a surcharge versus others (i.e 6 bottles in supplier’s original packaging versus a 6-bottle case manually picked in bottle pick), we try and simplify it all by making it as per the current standards:
12-bottle boxes are the standard minimum unless the product is naturally stocked in smaller cases (sent to us from the supplier in sixes, for example) or we set a purchasing restriction limiting the number of bottles people can buy. Members can also store 12-bottle cases of their own mixture of wines, as well as The Society’s range of pre-mixed cases, but both of these need to be withdrawn as full cases.
To break a case, we would have to set up a unique product code with a contents list for every code/case variant which is very time-consuming and would escalate and add cost very quickly.
The 6-bottle transfer to another member is doable as we can do that on the stock system only (not physically) by changing the ownership of the bottles. This doesn’t require a change to a contents list on a product code or physically move something to another pallet since all the bottles are the same and stay with other bottles. They merely have a new system ‘owner’ i.e the member they’ve been transferred to.
Hope this helps! Interested to hear your thoughts/any further queries?
This is a very helpful response.
It makes the case for an internal market for reserves even stronger as by this account the trading cost (commission essentially) would more than offset the system costs (since no physical activity is required).