WOSA tasting pods at the LIWF

Arriving at the London International Wine Fair today, one of the first stands that I went to visit was naturally Wines of South Africa. This year the WOSA team have decided to add something a little different to the stand, which has allowed more South African wineries to be represented at the show in a small way, without having to dish out the full price of a stand – The Great South African Variety Show.

They have set up a series of unmanned pods, each themed and set up with a selection of twelve wines. The pods include Royal Reds and Cheerful Chenins as well as regional selections such as Splendid Swartland and Elegant Elgin. The pods caused some controversy amongst the wine fraternity when the idea was announced, mainly due to the cost of the entry and the fact that the wines would not be represented by a person at the stand.

The setup looked good and was definitely a standout from the rest of the stands in the venue (The ExCel conference centre in East London). The pods were not entirely unmanned, with staff from WOSA as well as André Morgenthal and Su Birch circulating often during the times that I was there. There were also a number of producer representatives who were attending the show and were constantly around the stand.

My impression was that the concept was well received, and the mini-themed tastings gave some interesting snapshots and cross-sections of the South African wine scene, even if the titles of the pod names are a bit cheesy! Listening to and chatting with other tasters the opinions seemed to be shared. It was a refreshing addition to the offering at the show. A nice touch is the business cards below each wine, containing the details and UK agent as well as space for a few notes. They’re a convenient way to remember the wines that stand out without having to flip back and forth through a booklet while trying not to drop your glass.

Around the fair there are a number of  ‘unmanned’ tasting lineups, both at generic country stands as well as at competition results installations. But the WOSA pod idea provides a guideline as to what you are tasting and adds something to the experience.

I spoke to Andre Morgenthal and he confirmed that while there were always some things to be learned when trying something new, overall the initial feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive.

One Response to “WOSA tasting pods at the LIWF”

  1. Tim Pearson says:

    I agree with your assessment of the WOSA pods Chris and I felt they added a different dimension to this years South African showing. They enabled visitors to select a pod and taste the wines without having someone tell you what the wine ‘tastes like’. We at Seven Springs, for instance. were able to show the only wine we currently have, our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, on the Super Sauvignon pod. It allowed us to help raise our profile as a producer and also enabled us to meet people at the pod a pre arranged time. I felt that the show was a big success, enabling eacellent interaction without costing us an arm and a leg. Tim Pearson, Seven Springs Vineyard (