Booths Supermarkets has been named Overall Wine Merchant of the Year in the 2002 International Wine Challenge – breaking Oddbins' four-year domination of the title.

Booth’s – a family-owned chain in northwest England – beat every other supermarket and off-licence chain in the country to take the title. Oddbins has won the title for the last four years.

Booths is Britain’s oldest family-owned grocery business. Established 155 years ago in Preston, Lancashire by Edwin Henry Booth, it has 27 stores spread across Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and the Lake District.

Booths took both Overall Winner and Regional Wine Merchant of the Year in the competition, described as one of the largest blind tastings in the world.

Wine magazine, which organises the Challenge, praised wine buyer Sally Holloway (pictured) and said, ‘Booths is an impressive set-up. It is like the best sort of local wine shop, but with the outlook and buying power of a bigger player.’

Chris Dee, marketing director for Booths, put the success down to stability and expertise.

‘Many supermarkets swap buyers between departments. This often means that the frozen vegetable or lingerie buyer of today may be the Bordeaux or Riesling buyer of tomorrow.

‘This can lead to difficulties in telling a claret from a carrot, or a hock from a sock. Booths veers towards experience.’

Booths’ wines are available nationally through its web site www.everywine.co.uk, a premier partner of decanter.com.

Written by Adam Lechmere5 September 2002