Cambridge Wine Merchants
International Wine Challenge, Wine Merchant of the Year 2012 : WINNERS!
also: Large Independent Merchant of the year UK, East of England Merchant of the year, Fortified Specialist Merchants of the Year UK
CWM is totally committed to being a responsible licensee. We like to think we are one of the very best in the UK.
In the 1990s we undertook an impact assessment and since then we have strictly enforced the following policies:
· Not to stock anything of interest to “troublesome” drinkers: cheap strong cider, cans of strong beer, tonic wine, cheap sweet semi-sparkling wine, cheap sherry etc. Nor do we offer bargain deals on slabs of lager.
· To avoid stocking anything of interest to under-age customers. We avoid alcopops and mixed drinks aimed at younger drinkers. Wherever possible we moved our soft drinks into the “adult” range.
· Though we do stock cigarettes in some branches, they are always hidden from view. We stopped selling 10-packs over a decade ago as they seemed to encourage under-age purchase attempts.
All our staff are extremely highly-trained and experienced. They are also well trained in shop security and managing potentially difficult customers and situations. Even our van drivers have WSET certificates.
Consequently, though we hold 7 off licences, in 18 years of trading we've had as good as zero trouble – a handful of random events out of over 10 million customers served.
We suffer a tiny rate of attempted under-age purchase – mostly young tourists trying to buy presents but not aware of British age limits.
Promotion of sensible attitudes to alcohol
We ID every customer who looks under 25, in line with the government Challenge 25 policy, but we believe in a broader policy of education and understanding about alcohol consumption.
The French or Italian model is our goal: for people to understand wine as an integral part of civilized life, as a custom with a history and future, a product of the land with cultural and social context. We take a “user-guide” approach: to explain how Fino is a bracing aperitif, Chianti joyous everyday dinnertime glass, Port a contemplative social sipper - that these are products not to get you slaughtered, but to be enjoyed in context, as the folk who make them do. And that context is as part of the ancient and civilizing tradition of dining, drinking and conversing together.
Our commitment to wine education is second to none. As a WSET school we’ve educated many drinks and catering trade folk, as well as our own staff, but beyond this we’ve been spreading the good word for years. We’ve taken our “fun, informal and informative” format of wine tasting evenings to all manner of groups, from schools (Sixth Form students) to the local Rabbi. We’ve also made a huge commitment over the years to encourage students in the universities where we do business (Cambridge and Oxford) to appreciate wine in a civilized way by deepening their understanding of its origin and use. We’ve lectured thousands of students this way via their Wine Societies, giving our time for free and wines for free or at cost.