Winetails: Changing the Game

Image: Chowhound

For some time now, wine has been for more than just sipping, swirling, and bloviating about. Many sommeliers, industry experts and operators have sought to adjust the perception of wine as the territory of the pretentious. Guests who experience wine-timidation usually opt out of ordering wine at all, and that’s a blow to an operator’s bottom line. One incredibly effective way of assuaging wine list intimidation and upping your wow factor is through wine cocktails, or winetails. During the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas, Diane Svehlak, president and partner of Dress the Drink (DTD), explained how to increase the pull-rate of your future beverage program through the use of shaken and stirred winetails that utilize custom blends and garnishes.

Winetails aren’t actually a new concept. Sangria has been enjoyed by many a consumer for many a year. Building a cocktail with wine isn’t that strange an idea. Some of your customers may be seeking something new, different and exciting, others may be looking to change up the way they consume wine, and still others may be looking for a low-alcohol alternative to the standard cocktail. Whatever the reason, winetails certainly have their place and should have a place on your menu.

The simple fact is that wine cocktails are hot right now. Sangria has inspired all sorts of wine-based cocktails, and its status as a classic and brunch-time favorite has been written in stone. Spritzers, coolers, Champagne and other sparkling wine cocktails… There are many effective ways to jump on this trend and boost your beverage sales. One of the easiest turns out to be Sangria. All it requires is educating your bar staff on prebatching cocktails, choosing from the many Sangria recipes from around the globe (and riffing on them – it’s fun to put your own stamp on Sangria), and being consistent.

Take your time when developing your winetails. Those that have the most visual appeal perform the best. So, play with various wines and other ingredients, and definitely use high quality garnishes. Wine comes in an array of shades of “white,” red, and purple, allowing you to experiment with ingredients that create beautiful and intriguing cocktails. It’s crucial you keep in mind that winetail presentation is the key to creating impact and therefore demand. A vibrant rim, a brilliant garnish, and an attractive glass allow you to mark up these particular cocktails. Once you’ve dialed in your recipes, Svehlak recommends either prebatching being able to make your winetails in 1 minute for the greatest ROI.

Svehlak shared two winetail recipes that were developed by DTD. One uses a white wine – Wente Hayes Ranch Chardonnay by Wente Vineyards – and one uses Wente Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon by Wente Vineyards, a red.

First Crush cocktail recipe - Wine cocktails

First Crush

  • 3 oz. Wente Hayes Ranch Chardonnay
  • 1 oz. Orange vodka
  • 3 oz. Fresh orange juice
  • 1 oz. White cranberry juice
  • DTD Blood Orange Lemon Zest Sugar Blend for rim
  • DTD Double Candied Blood Orange Lemon Zest Orange Round (no rind)

Place the top 4 ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake. Half rim of sugar on the glass with DTD Blood Orange Lemon Sugar Blend. Pour the contents of the shaker into a glass (wine glass, mason jar, Pilsner) with fresh ice. Top off with DTD Double Candied Blood Lemon Zest Orange Round.

Sinfully Red cocktail recipe - Wine cocktails

Sinfully Red

  • 3 oz. Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • 1 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Orange liqueur
  • 2 oz. Fresh orange juice
  • 1 oz. Fresh sweet and sour
  • Club soda to top
  • DTD Blood Orange Lemon Cranberry Sugar Blend for rim
  • DTD Apple Orange Zest Cranberry Blossom Floating for garnish

Place the first 5 ingredients in a shaker and shake it till you make it. Half rim your glass with DTD Blood Orange Lemon Cranberry Sugar Blend. Pour the contents of your shaker into a Martini glass with fresh ice. Top off with a splash of Club Soda and DTD Apple Orange Zest Cranberry Blossom.

In addition to explaining how to get the most out of a winetail program, Svehlak made a few recommendations for increasing your wine sales overall. Provide tastings and training to your staff, and develop seasonal winetails. Create happy hour promotions that feature your wines and winetails, and make sure to include a pairing garnish. You can also offer 2-ounce house wine or winetail flights, again with pairing garnishes. Finally, consider offering carafes of your winetails that can serve anywhere from 4 to 10 people. Include glassware, ice and garnishes for the carafes so people can pour their own winetails if they wish.

Succeeding with wine isn’t difficult if you commit to exceeding your customers’ expectations and develop new, clever and exciting ways for them to enjoy it.


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