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say alcohol sales signal San Mateo
Year’s celebrations are a go
Sierra Lopez Daily Journal staff
the day before New Year's Eve, Sue Evans browses the wines offered at Draeger's
Market in San Mateo.
2021 coming to a close, spirits appear to be higher than this time a year ago
according to local wine and spirit merchants who say high alcohol sales can
paint both positive and bleak pictures.
people buy alcohol to celebrate. Some people buy alcohol to drown their sorrows
so that’s a little bit difficult to pinpoint,” Gerald Weisl said, owner of
the boutique wine shop, Weimax Wine and Liquor in Burlingame. “[But] generally
people are a little more upbeat this year than they were last year which is
another year of COVID-19 uncertainties and a new surge in cases caused by the
far more contagious omicron variant, bottles of wine and spirits are flying off
the shelves though not quite at pre-pandemic rates.
Kohns manages Draeger’s Market Wine, Spirits and Beer department and said his
aisles see much more foot traffic around the holidays and this year is the same.
What’s different is what people are purchasing.
than fine wines, he said customers are opting for more “mundane” bottles
they select while using online shopping services like Instacart. Like last year,
most people seem to be grabbing just a bottle or two for more modest
celebrations as uncertainty swells again.
has thrown us for a loop because it came on so quickly,” Kohns said.
even with the virus very much still present in communities, Quinton Jay, the
owner of Bacchus Wine and Spirits in Millbrae, said enough has changed to make
those interested in celebrating the coming of a new year comfortable doing so.
county’s vaccination rate is near 95% for those ages 12 and older and about
the same for seniors over the age of 65 who were at greatest risk of dying from
the virus. And people have learned to adapt by adhering to safety measures like
masking even when not mandated – San Mateo County’s mask mandate has been in
place since July and neighboring jurisdictions just removed some exceptions for
small businesses and gyms.
it’s difficult to gauge whether someone is purchasing a bottle of brandy or
merlot to ring in the new year or mourn the last, the merchants said their
customers seem to be happier than they did last year.
than purchase online or have bottles shipped to friends, Jay said he’s seen
more customers strolling aisles for something special and carrying cases home
for smaller gatherings.
said his shop has had more success selling larger bottles of sparkling wine than
in 2020 and was pleased by the number of locals and out-of-towners who popped in
to purchase one or more items from his eclectic selection of worldly wines and
Draeger’s, Kohns said customers seem eager to celebrate too but noted spirit
sales have buoyed business since skyrocketed at the start of the pandemic. Like
a dip in Champagne sales, he suggested increased liquor sales could be a
sign parties are few and far between.
liquor is still thriving in the industry now,” Kohns said. “There’s just
no clear direction for people. They’re reacting more than they are planning.
That’s just the time we’re in and hard liquor is a more effective drug.”
what seemed to be bleak purchasing habits last year should now be understood as
a shift in hobbies and drinking interest, Jay said. While buyers are
shifting to spirits, especially brown liquors, to get their fix without being
bogged down by liquids, he argued millennials are also turning to the bottles as
craft cocktails and beers grow in popularity.
are also an easier sale than wine, Jay said, noting an everyday shopper is more
likely to go for a $50 bottle of liquor with about 25 pours inside over a
similarly priced bottle of wine which pours about four glasses.
move toward spirits and any potential last minute party cancellations have
benefited the merchants in some ways given that supply chain issues have been
plaguing the wine industry. Corks, labels and bottles have all been difficult to
come by and shipments that once took weeks to arrive are now taking months, the
those set on a specific producer, Kohns said he advised his customers to
purchase well in advance and Weisl said his shop has managed to overcome supply
issues by exposing customers to new and interesting products.
of what’s being purchased, people seem to have more hope for the year to come
or are at least willing to take more risks to celebrate with loved ones, Jay
think that if you’re going to celebrate you’re going to celebrate. Either
way you’re going to bring a bottle to the party or open it at home but
it’s going to be a bottle of something,” Jay said. “People are a little
less scared. There’s a little bit of that confidence overall.”
Wine Tasting Today
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