A recent interview with Balan Sethupathy, the Owner of Hinchley Wines in Manor Road, revealed some interesting facts and statistics – as our reporter, Jenny, delved into modern drinking habits!!
Q. When did you open The Wine Shop?
A. I opened the shop on 21st March 2015. The premises had previously been used as an Off-Licence, but this had closed, and the premises had been empty for some time.
Q. What did you do before coming to Hinchley Wood?
A. I was born in Sri Lanka, but left the country when I was 19 years old, when I moved to Germany. I still miss the beaches, good food and the more relaxed life-style – but I return several times a year to visit my mother, sisters and other family members.
I lived in Germany for 18 years before coming to England, where I worked as a Store Manager for a Pizza Company and subsequently ran a Wine and Off-Licence business, gaining valuable and extensive knowledge of the retail drinks industry. I now live in Orpington with my wife and three children.
Q. What can you tell me about the drinking habits of the English compared to their German counterparts?
A. In Germany, the principal drink is beer (particularly Pilsner). Interestingly, they often drink an expensive wine with friends at home in the evening – not with a meal, but on its own with small snacks. Germany had Wine Bars well before they appeared in England, where friends gathered in the evening as we do in our local pubs.
Q. How have drinking habits changed in England over recent years?
A. The outstanding example is the rise of Sparkling Wines, where there has been an increase in sales of 40%. The English varieties are performing exceptionally well – a recent example being the choice of a Sussex Sparkling Wine (a Rosé 2016 and Blanc de Noirs 2015) as “Sparkling Wine of the Month” at The Ritz – the only time in its 113 year history that a non-Champagne has been given this title.
Q. What are your Best Sellers?
A. At present, my Best Sellers are Wines – red wines from France and South Africa are very popular and white wines from France and New Zealand. Gin has also become very drinkable (a rise in sales of 30% in recent years) – particularly the locally made Gins and flavoured Gins which have recently come to the market. Port and Sherry are mainly sold during the Christmas season. Single Malts – the Scottish Malts are very popular – are also best sellers. (Reporter’s note: I understand that American and Irish labelling is “Whiskey” and the English and Scots use “Whisky” – you live and learn!)
Of course, England is known for its beer and Real Ales, and last year’s long, hot summer – and barbecues – resulted in excellent sales of IPA and traditional English beers, not forgetting the very traditional Pimms.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being in the shop?
A. I enjoy meeting people, and giving them advice on what to buy – particularly for birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. Hinchley Wood is a very friendly place, and people often pop in for a chat (I learn a lot about the lives of local people)!
Q. What is your biggest challenge?
A. Keeping prices competitive against the Supermarkets etc. Contrary to popular belief, an independent Wine Shop such as mine can provide very competitive prices – my wines start at £5.50 rising to £50 per bottle, and sparkling wines £7 to £75 per bottle – with some Special Offers and discounts. As an independent trader I can also provide advice and give personal attention to the customer’s requirements.
Q. What else do you sell/offer?
A. In addition to wines, spirits, etc. I stock cigarettes, vape pods, specialist cigars from Havana, Honduras and Nicaragua, gift box chocolates, sweets, cards, crisps and other “munchies”. I can deliver locally in Hinchley Wood and provide a Glass Hire service.
Hinchley Wines, 2 Manor Road North, Hinchley Wood, Esher, KT10 0SH.
Tel. 020 7018 7360
Opening Hours: 10.30 to 22.00 Monday to Saturday. 11.00 to 21.00 Sunday