Wine outpaced both spirits and beer in 2011, growing 4.6% in volume and accounted for 10.5% of total adult beverage sales, according to our WineTAB report. As we continually monitor more than 1,500 brands, we see that wine is on track for another “very good year” in 2012.
How are wine sales pacing in your operation? As the all-important fall/holiday season approaches, operators should make sure to capitalize on trending wines to end 2012 on a positive note. Watching as many brands as we do, as closely as we do, we see trends emerging that may have applications to your beverage program:
Fun – While wines for serious oenophiles abound, the number of labels and styles courting new wine drinkers or those just looking for an easily accessible taste profile and relaxing experience are increasing in number. Wines such as Cupcake Vineyards’ Red Velvet and Angel Food offerings and always-great-in-a-pitcher sangrias -- both red and white –are growing.
Purpose – Piggyback on the environmentally-friendly production methods or cause-marketing initiatives of wineries can help a restaurant create a meaningful point of differentiation. Barefoot Cellars Beach Rescue program and flipflop’s Soles4Souls initiatives are just two examples of programs that can have your patrons doing good while having a good time.
New Twists – Millennials are always looking for something new, and a new twist on a favorite wine can do the trick. Chardonnay remains the largest wine varietal (23.2% share of table wine), but the advent of unoaked Chardonnays is drawing young people to the varietal, perhaps because it’s “not you Mother’s Chardonnay.” The Simply Naked portfolio brings the unoaked process to a range of varietals.
Sparkling – Bubbly goes along with the trend of fun, and some Champagnes are experiencing positive gains. However, sparklers from U.S. and Italian producers offer attractive points and accessible, even mixable, flavor profiles. Several domestic sparklers gained traction last year, while Italy accounted for 56.9% of all imported sparkling wine in 2011. The growth of both domestic and Italian sparklers appears to be continuing in 2012.
Of course, everyone (and I mean, everyone) asks me about Moscato. In short, yes, the varietal is trending upward at a fast pace. That said, it remains small (2.3% share of table wine varietal volume). Numerous winemakers are rolling out Moscato expressions – both table wine and sparklers, both new labels and additions to existing portfolios. Moscato is accessible from both a flavor and price point perspective, and is in demand by younger adult patrons, so it’s a natural that bar and restaurant operators will want to add it to their lists. The incidence of Moscato on chain restaurant menus increased 47% in the first quarter of 2012 as compared to the first six months of 2011, according to our MenuMonitor tool. The Moscato rush is causing a run on the grape varietal, and given the grape shortage already impacting California producers, it may quickly become challenging for wine marketers to keep up with demand or maintain the current price points. In addition, with all these products coming at operators, they’d be cautioned to manage their selections carefully.