Bottling Up Sangria Is More Than Throwing Wine & Fruits Together, This M’sian Biz Shares

Last year, bars pivoted to selling bottled cocktails when they had to close their premises, two of which we’ve written about, Brotenders and The Swagger Salon

Instead of trying their luck with the exact same, 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 her some sangrias, as San had 10 years of bartending experience.

“That friend probably needed a concoction to overcome her MCO-related anxieties, so that was how it all began and we started selling to our friends in July 2020,” Juelie shared with Vulcan Post. 

Selling Sangrias, Gintea, And Cocktails

Ready-To-Drink Sangrias sells several products including gintea and some cocktails, but their best-sellers are their bottled sangrias.

Their line of products / Image Credit: RTD Sangrias

Roughly 150ml of full or medium-bodied wine, fruit juices (not from real fruit), as well rum or cognac are mixed into a sangria. They’ll let the mixture sit for 24 hours before bottling them. 

There are two sizes customers can choose from, 240ml and 700ml. Their sangrias are priced at RM19 to RM55, depending on the flavour and size you choose. A 240ml bottle has 2 servings, and Juelie and San recommend drinking them within a week after opening. 

If you want to store it longer, they recommend no longer than 3 months. Even though alcohol doesn’t expire, the sangrias will taste drier and less fruity. So if you consume their sangrias after 3 months, it’d most likely taste like dry wine. 

Their Sangria Doesn’t Come With Fresh Fruit

Now, as someone who occasionally had sangrias, it’s a fairly simple drink to make compared to cocktails. You pretty much just have to cut up some fruit and put them in your alcohol of choice.

My friends who enjoy sangrias do so because of the fruit in the drinks, which isn’t present in San and Juelie’s. 

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

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

Preparation (left), labeling (middle), and their cards (right) / Image Credit: RTD Sangrias

Harder To Make Than Cocktails

Making sangrias is relatively harder than cocktails to Juelie and San, mostly because they had to wait 24 hours each time they created a concoction. Cocktails, on the other hand, don’t need that long of a wait to taste-test.

Moreover, once they’ve opened a wine bottle to mix into the sangria, they have to use it immediately, unlike spirits for cocktails which can still be kept when unfinished.

“We took about 6 months to come out with a ‘publicly acceptable’ taste. We gave out samples to family, friends, strangers,” Juelie shared about their R&D.

“However, we don’t do white sangrias because of how fizzy they need to be. Fizzy sangrias are difficult to bottle, and can’t be kept for long,” she added.

Making More From Pop-Ups Than Online Sales

Since January, Juelie and San have had weekly pop-ups at the Bangsar Market’s non-halal section in KL Eco City.

On their way to open their pop-up store / Image Credit: RTD Sangrias

For these pop-ups, they’d prepare 4 crates to sell, 3 of which are for sangrias and the remaining one for their gintea and cocktails. Each crate holds up to 12 bottles.

“Bangsar Market at KLEC has very, very, very low traffic. The conversion rate from sampling to sales is about 80%. Out of 10 who tried, 8 would buy,” Juelie shared.

“However, these are quality customers. We’d rather have it this way instead of a higher traffic whereby out of 100 that walked by, only 2 would buy.”

The percentage of their offline sales versus their online sales is roughly 90-10, and out of that 10% of online sales, 20% of them are returning customers from their pop-ups. Every week, they’d be able to sell around 20 bottles on average through their pop-ups.

Overcoming Misconceptions Of The Drink

“Most Malaysians don’t know what sangria is. Some of them even equate sangria to ubat kuat,” Juelie said.

Hence, Juelie would have to regularly explain what sangrias actually are to newer customers, which is a Spanish summer cocktail that’s mostly made with wine.

Because Malaysians aren’t too familiar with sangria, they have to rely a lot on taste-testing to attract customers and generate sales. 

“Our online marketing has a very low sales conversion rate, mainly because customers cannot taste-test it,” Juelie explained to Vulcan Post. 

As of now, they’re finding ways to get their products on grocery and convenience store shelves and even import their products.

Furthermore, they’d like to have their own kitchen space and storage area in order to ramp up production.

  • You can learn more about Ready-To-Drink Sangrias here.
  • You can read about more startups we’ve covered here.

Also Read: CIMB Tap n Pay Turns Android Phones Into Contactless POS Terminals For Merchants

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