By Valentina Phillips

Jonas De Maere is Wine Program Manager for Ahold Delhaize USA. He supports local category managers by making their wine assortment more attractive to their customers. Jonas has been promoting Concours Mondial de Bruxelles for 5 years now and has advised many wineries to enter their wines in the competition.

What is most exciting about judging at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles?

Being on the panel of Concours Mondial is great for two reasons: First, for the tasting experience. I get to taste many wines, usually grouped by region and/or vintage, which is an excellent opportunity to widen my knowledge and experience. And second, for the network. It’s a unique platform to meet, share insights and trends and discuss them with wine professionals, many of whom then become friends.

How do you decide which wines should go on supermarket shelves?

There are many criteria involved. It really depends on the needs of the market, but a medal is definitely the guarantee of a good wine. We can also browse through the medal list and use it as a tool for discovering new wines.

Do consumers look for award stickers? Do they make a difference?

Yes, consumers look for medals on a bottle. In supermarkets there aren’t always people to guide the consumer and wine aisles can be big and intimidating. A medal from a well-known competition always reassures the customer that the wines have been properly tested beforehand and can be trusted.

In your experience, do awarded wines sell better?

Just having a wine with a medal on the shelf works, but if you want to get the most out of a medal you also have to publicize it. By producing a brochure, for example, or a list with awarded wines in the assortment or by organizing special tastings with awarded wines. This helps the customer discover these wines.

What trends are you noticing in the wine market currently?

In the U.S. we are seeing that rosé and Prosecco are selling very well. It’s also interesting to see that customers are more open to discovering lesser-known wines from smaller countries or appellations such as for example Gruner Veltliner from Austria – a wine most Americans are not familiar with.

What type of wines are U.S. consumers looking for besides rosé and Prosecco?

Mostly bold and aromatic wines. Californian wines are the perfect example of what U.S. customers expect – highly aromatic, warming and easy-drinking wines.

Why should producers send their wines to Concours Mondial de Bruxelles?

There are two good arguments for Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. First, for a producer a medal is a great marketing tool. I have had suppliers who won medals and were able to open up new markets after being proactively approached by buyers, just because they were on the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles website. That’s a great return on investment! Second, a competition is a great benchmarking tool for producers to see how they perform not only against wines from their own region (which they usually know very well), but also against wines from other regions and countries (which are often much more difficult to compare oneself with).