'It's an exciting time': PEILCC says efforts to grow interest in wine paying off

The PEI Liquor Control Commission believes its efforts to grow a bigger interest in wine is beginning to pay off.

Statistics Canada numbers released Wednesday show a 12 per cent increase in wine sales on the Island between 2011 to 2016, and people are now spending 25 per more of the bottles they buy.

"There's a factor of people looking for more experiences, trying different regions, different grapes, and drinking better wine," said Jean-Sébastien Morin, the wine category manager for the PEILCC.

"It's an exciting time in terms of the wine on the Island."

More selection, better information

Morin said the agency has made a concerted effort to meet that interest, and started hiring wine experts and increased its wine selection about a decade ago.

It updated its website with more information, pairings and recipes and also increased its staff training.

"We've embarked on a staff training in terms of product knowledge … knowledge about wine regions, grape varieties, wine style, food and wine pairing, cellaring, serving temperature," he explained, saying staff will actively help customers find the right product.

"What are their needs? What occasions are they thinking about? And then starting from there and talking about what possible options would work in terms of if you're having a barbecue — are you thinking a Malbec or if you want a Sauvignon or Shiraz and presenting some options."

Still room to grow

Morin said despite the increased interest in wine, the numbers show P.E.I.'s wine culture still has room to grow.

On average Islanders drink about 11.8 litres of wine a year per person. In Quebec, the average is 23.3 litres per person a year.

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