Category: Latest News

We are United Wines

January 10th, 2019 by

2018 has been an exceptional year of new beginnings at United Wines; the company completed its first full year since integrating HEINEKEN® Northern Ireland into its business, undertook a major refurb of its offices, as well as launching its first rebrand in over 30 years.

“The integration of HEINEKEN® Northern Ireland into United Wines has been seamless,” says Martin. “Everybody has embedded into their roles and the results speak for themselves. We’ve had over 250 new taps installed this year, which is a significant increase on 2017, and Orchard Thieves® is already the number two cider on draft according to AC Nielsen.

“Distributing these brands has opened many doors for us, aiding the growth of our own agency brands such as McGuigan Wines and Whitley Neill Gin. 2018 has surpassed our expectations in
so many ways.”

The success of the business has led to a growth in workforce, with United Wines now employing over 60 people. Consequently, there has been a need to expand office space. In November, United Wines undertook a major rebrand. “We have invested in extending our site, building modern, high quality offices which can accommodate our growing staff numbers,” he says.

“As an op co of HEINEKEN®, the new branding and indeed our newly adopted values and behaviours, reflect the modern and progressive company we are. It was probably one of the biggest decisions we have made, but the right one, and we are delighted with the

With a successful 2018, Martin and the United Wines team are looking ahead to 2019. “With a great deal of unknowns ahead in the New Year, we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” says Martin. “We believe in being prudent, ensuring we have forecasted enough stock to get us through the first few months of 2019. We have invested in more bonded warehouse space, making
sure our customers’ needs are met. We feel that the cost of maintaining that business, outweighs letting our customers down.”

Once through that initial period of uncertainty, Martin predicts 2019 will continue to witness growth for United Wines. “We believe Heineken® and Orchard Thieves® will continue to grow,” he says. “The gin phenomenon looks set to continue, with Whitley Neill, Caorunn and Muff gaining share.”

The ‘no alcohol’ category, driven by the successful launch of Heineken® 0.0, is an area which Martin believes will flourish in 2019. “Heineken® 0.0 has been a massive success, not only in the UK and Ireland but also in Europe,” he says. “Freixenet has just launched a non-alcoholic sparkling wine and our wine principals are viewing this category as an opportunity for growth.”

Supported by a highly-motivated, skilled workforce, Martin is optimistic that the momentum from 2018 will continue into 2019. “I believe momentum breeds success. There is great camaraderie and atmosphere in our business and I genuinely believe we are well prepared for 2019 and I am looking forward to an exciting, innovative and dynamic year.”

And with the backing of major global company HEINEKEN®, the future looks secure for United Wines. “Our message to our customers is a big thank you for all the business over the last 33 years – we hope to grow your business as we grow ours,” says Martin.

“We are well prepared and looking forward to 2019.”

For more information on working with United Wines call 028 3831 6555

Brand Merchandiser Job Opportunity

January 7th, 2019 by

The Company

United Wines incorporating HEINEKEN NI is a dedicated agency-led wholesale business within the Licensed Trade servicing the entire on and off trade. As a subsidiary of HEINEKEN IRELAND we are the licensed wholesale company responsible for developing the HEINEKEN portfolio across Northern Ireland.

Now in our 34th year of operation, we pride ourselves on our market leading and award winning brands including Heineken, Orchard Thieves, McGuigan Wines, Santa Rita Wines, Kulov vodka and Champagne Bollinger, to name a few.

The Job’s Mission

  • To champion UW’s brands & space performance within the on and off trade throughout NI (and ROI as and when required)

Key Responsibilities

  • Effective use of POS to interrupt the shopper journey as briefed by UW Marketing team , within the NI & ROI on and off trade
  • Maximise customer interest and sales levels by displaying products appropriately
  • Manage an up to date competitor analysis database
  • POS Management : maintenance of warehouse, managing stock inventory and highlighting stock replenishment
  • Plan and execute merchandising schedules, effectively and efficiently
  • Educate retailers on the benefits of stocking UW/Heineken products in their stores and develop the range to gain additional space and share
  • Compile, analyse and present post merchandising activity to the UW marketing team
  • Maintain and develop relationships with customers, internal departments and external agencies
  • Represent UW through in store product sampling and branded events when required




  • Educated to A level or equivalent
  • Previous experience in merchandising
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communications skills with the ability to interact effectively internally as well as with external contacts
  • Strong Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint skills
  • Full clean driving license
  • Excel in multi-tasking within a fast-paced organisation
  • Strong ability to plan and manage merchandising routes, making the most efficient use of time.


  • FMCG experience
  • Knowledge of the Island of Ireland on and off trade
  • Educated to degree level or equivalent


  • Experience working with worldwide brands
  • Salary £17,000 P/A
  • Company vehicle, phone & laptop
  • Company pension scheme


To apply please email your CV to nina@unitedwines.co.uk


Mega support for Heineken and Orchard Thieves this Christmas

December 10th, 2018 by

United Wines Brand Managers Nina Doyle and Susan Kearney are pictured with Heineken® and Orchard Thieves® bus Mega Rears bought and planned by Kinetic Worldwide, and produced by Exterion Media, which will be spotted across Belfast throughout the festive season.

The buses are just one of several pieces of marketing activity that will support two of the leading brands in the Lurgan based distributor’s portfolio this Christmas. Additional activity includes a Heineken 0.0 ‘Designated Driver’ campaign, allowing drivers to enjoy a non-alcoholic beer over the festive period. Mulled cider is also on offer as a winter warmer with Orchard Thieves this party season.

From Hola to Ciao!

September 24th, 2018 by

Adding to their impressive portfolio, United Wine Merchants has announced that they are now distributing Freixenet, a range of international sparkling wines into the licenced trade sector in Northern Ireland.

An event held at Ten Square Hotel Belfast yesterday, celebrated the product’s introduction to trade customers and media and also launched Freixenet’s new Italian DOC prosecco.

Martin McAuley, Managing Director at United Wine Merchants commented, “We are delighted to launch Freixenet to Northern Ireland’s licenced trade. The brand offers a wide range of sparkling wines and is Spain’s leading exporter of Cava Freixenet. The launch of their new Prosecco is especially exciting at a time when the Northern Irish market is seeing great demand for the product.”

Adrian Morgan, National Account Manager at Freixenet UK commented, “With a range of sparkling wines in our collection, Freixenet offer a product for every taste. The move into the rapidly growing Italian wine sector reflects not only the huge consumer appetite for this popular wine, but also the company vision to become the world’s leading producer of celebratory sparkling wine.  Presented in a striking cut-glass bottle, the new Italian range blends superior quality with stunning beauty. With more than 150 years of expertise, Freixenet has created these stand-out, high quality wines to appeal to a growing audience.”

Other products in the range include Cordon and Ice. Cordon is undoubtedly Freixenet’s core and leading range, having the most iconic and recognisable products for the brand. From the all-world famous black Cordon Negro to the beautiful and fruity Cordon Rosado; this range is made to celebrate all life’s moments and encompasses high-quality sparklers which are versatile to suit every occasion. Freixenet Ice, with an enigmatic bottle design and innovative serve over ice, brings an exciting new dimension to cava.

For more information please contact your United Wine Merchants Sales Representative or call 02838 316555.



Summer 2018 – you have been amazing

August 27th, 2018 by

By Mairead Catterson – Wine Development Manager 

In my role as wine development manager with United Wines, I get the opportunity to be creative in designing bespoke wine lists for my clients, developing lists to suit the needs of their individually styled outlets by drawing on our range of both commercial brands, and our exclusive on-trade-specific wine portfolio.

I have recently extended my reach and also become involved in recruiting on-trade accounts for draught installations, Heineken, Orchard Thieves, Tiger, Birra Moretti, Cute Hoor and Amstel.
As part of my draught project, I formed a relationship with Festive 4, a local events company owned by four publicans who are the force behind the well-established Dergfest and the launch of the new Shoreline Festival in Enniskillen.

Heineken has an historic and global association with music festivals. From the early 1990s ,Heineken UK staged their own music festivals featuring a mix of pop, rock, punk, folk and world music with acts such as Oasis, Manic Street Preachers, Blur, and Catatonia. Also, long-established bands including The Stranglers, Jools Holland, The Pogues, Saw Doctors, Bonnie Tyler and Mike and The Mechanics. In total there were 30 festivals over six years. The last event was in July 1995, which attracted 110,000 fans on the Saturday, and 300,000 over four days and was headlined by Pulp. More than one million cans of Heineken were sold at the last event.

Heineken International are very much involved in the music scene partnering with events such as Coachella/Miami, Outside Lands/San Fran, FIB Benicassim Festival/Spain and the Open’er Festival/Poland to mention but a few.

Closer to home this summer, Heineken Ireland have brought their Music strategy Live Your Music to life, as pouring partners at gigs such as Bruno Mars, Longitude, Sea Sessions and Electric Picnic. We believe that the coolest music festivals are perfect with a cold Heineken or indeed Orchard Thieves.

We have our finger very firmly on the music pulse in NI in our proud association with the SS      E Arena. We also plan to get involved with festivals both large and small all across the country. As pouring partners with Dergfest and Shoreline, we worked closely with the organisers (The Fab Four) providing not just product but as much support as possible; event tools, event branding, point of sale, plastics, branded ponchos, staff t shirts, lanyards, flyers and on-site technical support for the duration of the events. In addition, we worked with local bars and restaurants to help maximise footfall from the events and extend the revenue potential to local trade. The festivals featured a mix of genres on different nights with acts such as Darude, Teddy Cream, Bass Hunter and Tinchy Stryder, Ryan Sheridan and Scouting for Girls. Also, local talent Nathan Carter, Lisa Mc Hugh and The Logues..
We believe that: ‘When people get together over music, the world gets better!’

Check out highlights here.

The language of wine

August 22nd, 2018 by

Most people say I can only speak two languages, English and Bad. However that’s not totally true, I can also speak wine. It’s a complete language on its own and can often be way too pretentious with some people waffling on a load of nonsense which can give wine tastings and wine education a bad reputation. ‘I can smell wheelbarrows of lilies and a hint of the back seat of a 1967 Morris Minor.’ That is nonsense, because it’s very personal; not many people know what the back seat of a Morris Minor smells like.

Nevertheless there is a universally agreed language that can be used for describing certain types of wine, and if you try hard enough, you will find these tastes and flavours in your wine. You just have to keep practising.

For example the WSET have created The Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine, designed to build individuals’ skills progressively through the different qualification levels.

Appearance, Nose, Palate and Conclusion are further broken down into more detail depending on the level of exam you are studying. I’ve always found this approach very useful. It tends to keep you focused on the wine and helps you identify the different flavour profiles in the wine.

The Davis Wine University California Aroma Wheel is very user friendly, divided into several sections to help you visualise the different flavours, scents and aromatic qualities found in most red and white wines, regardless of the grape variety. The same aromatic complexities and sensations pictured on the wine aroma wheel are found in red and white wines all over the world, from Bordeaux, to California and Australia, as well as every other viticultural area. Most people can identify a wine as being fruity, but this guide takes it to the next value: is it tropical fruits? If so, is it Banana, Melon or Pineapple? Floral aromas can be detected in a wine; with clear focus you can pinpoint Rose, Violet or white flowers. Check it out at:  www.winearomawheel.com


Get more from your wine and think while you drink.

Lay down with me

August 12th, 2018 by

One of life’s great myths is that ‘all wine gets better with age’. People often come up to me after tasting, full of excitement about the bottle of wine they found in their granny’s house and they want me to tell them that they should sell it for a fortune and retire early. Normally I’m just informing them that it’ll probably only be good enough for putting on chips. 99% of the world’s wine is produced to be drunk immediately. Some wines will soften up after a few years in the bottle but, in the main, if it’s on the shelf of your local off licence, it’s ready for drinking.

There are of course a few exceptions. Premium Bordeaux reds and sweet whites, Rhone Valley reds, ports, Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva, Super Tuscans, top end Californian reds and a few locations in Australia and South Africa.

Arguably the best value is Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva. Take the Marques de Caceres 2012 Reserva, which received 93 points from Wine Spectator. This is exceptional value which you could enjoy now but will also age well for at least another 20 years.

From an investment prospective, it has to be vintage port. When released, these wines are very closed and need many years aging in bottle before they reach their peak. During this time, the wines almost always increase in value. What’s the worst that can happen if they don’t?  You’ll have to drink it with some friends. Unlike shares, if they fall in value you’ll hardly eat the certificate.

If you do chose to buy some wines from a special year, maybe the birth of a child, marriage or you’re celebrating a divorce, the important thing is to get the right advice.  Visit a local independent wine merchant who will steer you in the right direction, depending on your budget.

If you in turn do invest in something, make sure you store it correctly. Wines to be aged need to be kept at a constant temperature. Extremes of hot and cold will destabilise the wine and could accelerate the aging process. A cool dark place with a constant temperature is perfect. Whilst waiting for the wines to reach optimum drink pleasure, you should occasionally google it and hopefully see that someone  has tasted that vintage and given an update on when it will be best for drinking.

For me I have a Euro Cave, a temperature-controlled unit with all my top 100 wines aging gracefully. I’m also constantly rotating this with fresh stock. I’m very fortunate that my two daughters were born in 1996 and 2000. These were two exceptional vintages in Bordeaux and, whilst I’m aging lots of wines from these years, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to get them. They are for my wife and I to consume and celebrate their lives. Anyway they are both much too young to appreciate a good bottle of wine yet.

Quote of the week…

“The taste of a good bottle is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” Unknown

United Wine Merchants bring a Taste of Italy to Belfast Film Festival

July 31st, 2018 by

United Wine Merchants has announced that Italian brand Birra Moretti is to be the official drink of the 2018 Belfast Film Festival.

Now in its 18th year the Festival is well established in the local calendar and has a well deserved reputation amongst the public for bringing a wide range of film, documentaries and shorts to a host of locations throughout the city.

Birra Moretti is an Italian lager beer which dates back to 1859 and is the only Italian brand to have been awarded both gold and silver medals at the World Beer Cup, the most important international competition in the industry.

Emma Haughian, Brand Manager at United Wine Merchants commented, “We are delighted to be sponsoring the dynamic and diverse programme of events that make up this year’s Belfast Film Festival. Birra Moretti is a quality beer which is the result of a production process that has remained almost unchanged since 1859. It’s positioning as a cosmopolitan beer enjoyed by male and female consumers make it the perfect partner for the Festival. We are looking forward to the opening night of the film festival and to welcoming guests to experience international film with an international brand.”

The Belfast Film Festival is set to open on Thursday 12th April and will run in locations across the city until Saturday 21st April. To find out more or to book your tickets visit www.belfastfilmfestival.org

Neil McGuigan & John Torode launch new collaboration wine.

July 31st, 2018 by

Continuing their successful partnership, Neil McGuigan and John Torode have launched their new MT Tempranillo at an event hosted by United Wine Merchants at the Titanic Hotel Belfast. Guests included valued trade customers, representatives from the media and social media influencers.

Guests were treated to a six course wine and food pairing menu in the Titanic Hotel. Canapes were served on arrival with McGuigan Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir which was followed with Marinated Scallop Salad with Single Batch Chardonnay.

After a pallet cleanser of blood orange and rose wine sorbet, beef fillet was served with Single Batch Shiraz and followed by Young Buck blue cheese and the new MT Tempranillo. Finally guests enjoyed a dark chocolate and salted caramel torte with McGuigan Sparkling Shiraz.

United Wine Merchants were delighted to once again welcome Neil and John to Northern Ireland and to introduce the new MT Tempranillo to trade customers and media. The new wine is launching at a time when European varietals, and Tempranillo in particular are seeing a period of increasing sales and popularity amongst UK wine lovers.

I wanna take you to the island

July 27th, 2018 by

If you are in search of your next wine adventure, islands are where it’s at! Head off-shore for some slightly off-beat wines that are very much on-the-money. There is something about island living that lends itself to independent thinking and a gentler pace of life that is in true harmony with nature. Lofty as they may sound, these elements combined with the unique terroir of certain islands are the perfect recipe for wines of great quality, individuality and intrigue.

There are some stand-out examples of island territories amongst the New World nations producing superb wines – the Chardonnay, Pinot and sparkling wines of Tasmania, Pinot Noir from Canada’s Vancouver Island and the Bordeaux blends and Northern Rhône-style Syrah of New Zealand’s Waiheke Island. A look to the islands of the traditional Old World countries leads us to some of the most exciting and innovative areas in Europe. Also worth seeking out are wines from the islands where Portuguese and Spanish explorers made pit-stops en route to the New World such as Madeira and The Azores as well as the volcanic Canarian islands of Tenerife and Lanzarote.

Speaking of volcanoes, vineyards located in volcanic areas are amongst the hottest (ouch!) properties in today’s wine world. Volcanic soils are very porous and so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to seek out the great minerality that characterises these unique soils. The volcano’s slopes provide exposure to the sun, which is key for ripening, as well as altitude which keeps the grapes cool thereby maintaining their natural acidity.

The isolated nature of island life may be viewed as one its downsides; however when it comes to the health of the vineyards, geographic remoteness has enabled many island vineyards to avoid the devastating effects of diseases like phylloxera. Islands have an exemplary record in preserving indigenous grape varieties and old vines and for the most part, they have not jumped on the bandwagon with their cousins on the mainland in their rush to embrace the international varieties.

Sicily and the wines from the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in particular, are making serious waves in international wine circles, with Jancis Robinson pondering Etna’s status as ‘The Burgundy of the Mediterranean’. The picturesque island of Sardinia is nipping at Sicily’s heels as its wine industry begins to focus on making high quality wines from indigenous varieties including the lively, mineral-driven whites from the Vermentino grape and the gutsy and rustic reds from the Cannonau (a.k.a. Garnacha/Grenache) and Carignano (a.k.a. Cariñena/Carignan) varieties. Sardinia’s winemaking influences are rooted in these key red grapes which were said to have been left behind by the Spanish settlers that occupied the island from the end of the 13th century to the early 18th century.

While the Sardinian wine scene is prospering, its residents are living long. The island boasts the greatest concentration of centenarians in the world. Many of the islanders are said to attribute their longevity to the beneficial effects for the heart of Cannonau’s high levels of antioxidants. If you would like to test this theory for yourself, I would recommend you try Passo Sardo Cannonau di Sardegna from Vecchie Vigne (old vines). Some of the fruit is allowed to hang on the vine a little later than usual until it becomes slightly raisined. When these dried grapes are harvested, their sugars are concentrated which adds an extra sweetness to the wine. With its dense cherry fruit flavours, hints of wild herbs and luscious mouthfeel, Passo Sardo is the perfect accompaniment to chargrilled meats and summer barbecues.

Quote of the month…
“In Italy, they add work and life on to food and wine.” robin leach

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