M’sian Startup Selling Bottled Sangrias

Last year, bars turned to selling bottled cocktails when they had to close their premises, including two we talked about, Brotenders and The Swagger Salon.

Instead of trying their luck with the exact same thing, Juelie Koh and San Wong decided to venture into something else and less common in Malaysia: bottled sangrias.

It started when a friend asked San if she could sell him sangrias, as San had 10 years of bar experience.

“This friend probably needed a concoction to get over her AGC-related anxieties, that’s how it all started and we started selling to our friends in July 2020,” Juelie told Vulcan Post.

Sale of sangrias, gintea and cocktails

Ready-to-Drink Sangrias sell several products including gintea and some cocktails, but their bestsellers are their bottled sangrias.

Their product line / Image credit: RTD Sangrias

About 150ml of full-bodied or medium-bodied wine, fruit juices (not real fruit), as well as rum or brandy are mixed in a sangria. They will let the mixture sit for 24 hours before bottling them.

Customers can choose between two sizes, 240ml and 700ml. Their sangrias are priced from RM19 to RM55, depending on the flavor and size you choose. A 240ml bottle contains 2 servings, and Juelie and San recommend drinking them within a week of opening.

If you want to keep it longer, they don’t recommend more than 3 months. Even if the alcohol does not expire, sangrias will taste drier and less fruity. So if you consume their sangrias after 3 months it will probably taste like dry wine.

Their sangria doesn’t come with fresh fruit

Now, as someone who sometimes had sangrias, this is a pretty straightforward drink to make compared to cocktails. You just have to cut some fruit and put it in the alcohol of your choice.

My friends who love sangrias do it because of the fruit in the drinks, which is not present at San and Juelie’s.

Instead, they suggest you add fresh fruit to your sangria on mini cards that come with their drinks. What they offer is simply the convenience of having the base drink ready.

“Although you can easily prepare them at home, sangrias are like sambals. You can buy all the ingredients and try to make the sambal to your liking. Or you can just go out and get some ready-made sambal, ”Juelie joked.

Preparation (left), labeling (middle) and their maps (right) / Image credit: RTD Sangrias

More difficult to make than cocktails

Making sangrias is relatively more difficult than cocktails for Juelie and San, mainly because they had to wait 24 hours each time they created a concoction. Cocktails, on the other hand, don’t take that long to taste.

Also, once they open a bottle of wine to mix with sangria, they should use it immediately, unlike spirits for cocktails which can still be kept when unfinished.

“It took us about 6 months to come up with a ‘publicly acceptable’ taste. We distributed samples to family, friends, strangers, ”Juelie explained of their R&D.

“However, we don’t make white sangrias because of how sparkling they have to be. Sparkling sangrias are difficult to bottle and cannot be stored for long, ”she added.

Do more with pop-ups than online sales

Since January, Juelie and San have been hosting weekly pop-ups in the non-halal section of the Bangsar Market in KL Eco City.

On the way to opening their pop-up store / Image credit: RTD Sangrias

For these pop-ups, they prepared 4 cases to sell, including 3 for sangrias and the rest for their gintea and cocktails. Each case can hold up to 12 bottles.

“The Bangsar market in KLEC has very, very, very low traffic. The conversion rate from sampling to sales is approximately 80%. Out of 10 who tried, 8 would buy, ”Juelie said.

“However, these are quality customers. We would prefer to do it this way instead of higher traffic: out of 100 people passing by, only 2 would buy. “

The percentage of their offline sales to their online sales is around 90-10, and out of that 10% of online sales, 20% of them are returning customers from their pop-ups. Each week, they could sell an average of twenty bottles through their pop-ups.

Overcome Misconceptions About Drinking

“Most Malaysians don’t know what sangria is. Some of them even equate sangria with ubat kuatJuelie said.

Therefore, Juelie should regularly explain what sangrias really are to new customers, which is a Spanish summer cocktail that is mostly wine-based.

Because Malaysians are not too familiar with sangria, they have to rely heavily on taste testing to attract customers and generate sales.

“Our online marketing has a very low sales conversion rate, mainly because customers can’t test it,” Juelie told Vulcan Post.

From now on, they are finding ways to get their products off grocery and convenience store shelves and even import their products.

In addition, they would like to have their own kitchen and storage space in order to increase production.

  • You can read more about ready-to-drink sangrias here.
  • You can read more about other startups we’ve covered here.

Featured Image Credit: Juelie Koh and San Wong, Founders of Ready-To-Drink Sangrias

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