Ruth Yates. Most of you may have never heard of Ruth before, but she has the honour of being named 16th in the inaugural list of the top 75 most influential people in wine. A rather stunning accolade to hold, but not her only achievement as her independent wine and spirits company, Corks Out, has won over 20 awards in its 9 year history (including Independent Spirit Retailer 2012 and IWC Large Independent Retailer of the Year 2011). But how has this 5 store strong merchant be so successful in these hard times that have seen others perish? Well it’s all down to community values and a good sense of family ownership. Helped out by her husband Richard, who has the clame to fame of introducing the Chilean brand Concho y Toro into the UK, Ruth is determined to stay independent and not be seen as another chain store. She chooses her locations carefully, rarely venturing outside of Cheshire, and have her wine offerings reflecting the community around them. And because Ruth is very ‘hands-on’, she is able to find out the latest trends by her number one supporters – the customers.
Not one to be working in an office every day of the week, she splits her time between all five of her stores, helping customers choose the perfect Champagne for their dinner party, or recommending a glass to sample from their innovative wine tasting machines. The tasting machines are a fantastic way to try wines that you would normally shy away from, whether it’s because it’s a name you don’t recognise, or a price that’s making you think twice. Described as a ‘wine jukebox’, each machine holds 8 wines fresh and at the correct temperature for weeks, which if you visit their Chester store, that’s 48 wines on offer at any one time! With outdoor seating at their Timperley and Alderley Edge stores and a wine garden at their Stockton Heath branch, there’s no hurry when it comes to Corks Out, and you can even pay corkage on your selected bottle and enjoy it their and then!
Corks Out also have their own dedicated online store, where Ruth’s daughter takes the reigns to offer a personal experience to those who are out of reach of the Cheshire plains. With around 2500 wines and sparkling wines available, combined with monthly deals and next day delivery service, it gives comfort to those who may have never visited a store.
And it’s not all about the wine when it comes to Corks Out either, spirits are on the rise too, with some very select products you can’t find in your local supermarket. And with staff that can tell you your cognac from your brandy, they make the experience for any customer both informative, enjoyable and most importantly – relaxing. And just like their tasting machines, there’s always something open to try! I myself have bought many a product from Corks Out, mainly from their Timperley store which opened over 4 years ago. They were in fact my first port of call for last years Christmas wine selection, with one of the store managers Karim recommending bottles of Australian Turkey Flat Rose 2011 and Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2009, two wines that made Matthew Jukes’ Top 100 Australian Wines of 2011. Bottles of Martin Miller gin have been bought, alongside Kings Ginger Liqueur, Goslings Rum and Licor 43, which themselves finding pride of place next to offerings of Death’s Door gin, Chase vodka and Ron Diplomatico rum.
As you may have read previously, Corks Out also host a variety of wine and spirit tasting nights at each of their stores, usually focusing on a style or country, and culminating in four big tastings, two in the summer and two in the winter which showcase around 200 different wines, champagnes and spirits! Expect to see your favourite Drinks Enthusiast at many of these in the coming year!
So if your ever around some of Cheshire’s beautiful cities, towns and villages, and you see the striking Corks Out sign flash you by, pull over and pop in for a look around. Sample a fantastic Argentian Malbec, or a sumptuous Italian Pinot, or even treat yourself to a bottle of New Zealand sparkling for your night in. Whatever your budget, whether its £5 or £100, your bound to find the right style and flavour – and with a close-knit family style team, you may even find yourself being a regular before you know it.
And surely that can only be a good thing?
Check out the Corks Out website here
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