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Lidl highlights wine wins as U.S. openings approach

Analyst: Discounter seeking “marks of credibility”

In another indication of its intention to use wine to craft a quality image as it arrives in the U.S., Lidl US on Tuesday said its wine lines won 104 medals at last month’s Indy Independent Wine Competition in Indianapolis including a “Sparkling Wine of the Year” honors for an exclusive prosecco.

Lidl described the Indy competition as “the nation’s largest independent and scientifically organized wine competition in the United States,” at which it came away with 104 medals including 5 best of class trophies, 6 double gold, 17 gold, 64 silver and 17 bronze medals. This followed a performance at the 2017 LA International Wine Competition, where Lidl was also the top performing retail exhibitor, with 101 medals earned.

Lidl US director of wine Adam Lapierre at a preview event last month in New York.

Lidl, the German hard discounter whose first U.S. stores are set to open next week, has reached to such competitions in an effort to gain credibility and a reputation for quality among U.S. shoppers who will be unfamiliar with its retail brand and its largely private-label selections. It follows an announcement late Monday of a partnership with fashion icon Heidi Klum to design a line of apparel to be available at its stores later this year; an association with celebrity chef Amanda Freitag, who championed its food in a demonstration at a preview event held last month, and associations with governing bodies that can attest to the trustworthiness of its sourcing and standards, like the attest to the quality  to champion its ingredients such as seafood that would be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, Best Aquaculture Practices or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

“Lidl [will] look to join any state or federal trade organizations applying for ‘marks’ of credibility’,” Steve Dresser, director of Grocery Insights UK, a United Kingdom based consultant, said in a recent report. “For example, looking towards UDSA certified meat to provide reassurance for customers, who were bewildered by the lack of brands and an ‘unknown’ private label in a discounter.”

Lidl said its success in wine competitions underscores its unique approach to the category. Director of wine and certified moster of Adam Lapierre said he tasted more than 10,000 wines over the last two years while curating Lidl's assortment.

“I am delighted by Lidl’s performance at the 2017 Indy International Wine Competition,” Lapierre said in a statement. “The sheer number of awards speak for themselves and it’s incredibly exciting to have some of the country’s leading experts respond so enthusiastically to our wine range before we even open our doors. I am particularly excited that our Allini Prosecco DOCG has won Sparkling Wine of the Year — this is a great quality wine that we'll be offering at a market-beating price.” 

In addition to highlighting awards, Lidl will classify wines based on taste profiles as illustrated in this flier.

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