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Do Restaurants Need Wines By The Glass?

Although low cost house wines by the glass have been in restaurants for hundreds of years, in the late 1980s, Opus One, then the most expensive bottle of wine on the US market, had to come up with a clever way to get consumers to try and buy their wine. And the fine wine by the glass was born.

Today, many restaurants have discovered that an upscale wine by the glass program can attract savvy diners and help differentiate them from their competition. But offering pricey wines by the glass has been hampered by the fragile nature of wine. Once a bottle is open it begins to deteriorate rapidly. If it doesn’t sell the same day, the wine quality begins to diminish immediately, rendering some of it below serving quality. Most wine exposed to air for more than a day is seriously compromised, necessitating disposal. The losses can quickly add up.

The way that restaurants have dealt with wines by the glass is to offer a limited selection of what they know will sell rapidly. But what would a diner’s restaurant experience be like if they could order any wine in multiple serving portions?

Armando Luis, New Jersey restaurant owner, President and inventor of Vinfinity Systems FlashVacuum process, argues that there is no need for restaurants to offer wines by the glass.

Although his position may appear to negate the need for his product, he in fact, believes that wines by the glass should be more of the rule rather than the exception. The specialty list should be wines that are not offered by the glass, not the other way around. Wine should be available in the half or third of a bottle. The wine by the glass list should just be the wine list and those not offered by the glass should be known as “by the bottle only” list. By turning the process upside down, he argues that restaurants will strengthen their ability to deliver value and variety to educated wine drinkers and by doing so, significantly increase profit.

“An open bottle of wine is a perishable product and it needs proper storage or the waste from oxidized wine can significantly damage not only your P&L but also your establishment’s reputation,” says Luis.

He continues, “With the advanced wine preservation technology available on the market today, you can open any bottle of wine for a taste, a glass or staff training and not measurably degrade the product. Compromise and loss should be a thing of the past.”

Wine industry consultant Marian Jansen op de Haar, president of Vines 57, comments, “A restaurant grade wine preservation system not only preserves the quality of wines poured by the glass but also significantly lowers pour cost by eliminating waste. Every bottle on the wine list can be poured by the glass without compromising quality.”

Consumers are also putting more pressure on dining establishments to have a wide variety of wines by the glass to choose from, further complicating an already challenging issue. Orange County, California wine connoisseur, Carol McIntyre, who has a 1500 + bottle wine collection, is a frequent guest at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Fleming’s was the first national restaurant to employ preservation with Vinfinity Systems in all locations in time for the release of their new Fleming’s 100 list, featuring a hundred wines by the glass.

“I love ordering different wines by the glass to pair with each course and I prefer not to go to a restaurant unless I can be assured of the quality,” McIntyre notes.

She encapsulates what many restaurateurs have discovered about their educated wine consumers: they are willing to pay top dollar for a glass of cult cabernet with their prime steak, but not willing to take the risk that the wine might not be absolutely pristine.

And the consequences can be dire.

McIntyre adds, “If a restaurant serves me an oxidized glass of wine, or refuses to let me sample an unknown varietal before I buy it, I may not say anything, but I’ll never return.”

Gabriel Valle, Managing Partner for The Capital Grill, Miami agrees with Luis: “A preservation system allows me to open any bottle of wine for any reason and not worry about loss.

He continues, “If a customer doesn’t like the bottle, we can take it back with out any hassle and repurpose it without waste. Not only does preservation help the relationship between the restaurant and the consumer, but also between the winery and the consumer.” He adds, “If a consumer gets an oxidized glass of wine, they might just think that they don’t like the wine.”

On the typical restaurant wine list, the highest by the glass wine price, on a per ounce basis, is lower than the average bottle price. For many fine dining restaurants, the average bottle price is more than $100. With 4-6oz glasses per bottle, the average glass price if purchased by the bottle is more than $25.

However, many restaurateurs are concerned that consumers may not pay above a certain amount for a wine by the glass. The most expensive wine by the glass is typically cheaper than the average bottle on a per ounce basis.

But a recent survey by Napa Technology, makers of the enterprise-level WineStation preservation system, indicates that consumers are more willing to splurge on an expensive glass of wine that would otherwise be cost prohibitive to order by the bottle.

“Providing you have some kind of effective wine preservation system, you can offer your entire wine list and allow guests to decide how they want to consume the wine,” says Luis.

He concludes, “By giving guests the option of a taste, glass or half bottle it reduces their risk of ordering an expensive bottle of wine and can improve the restaurant’s overall profitability,” concludes Luis.

What would your restaurant’s wine program look like if spoilage wasn’t a factor?

Source: Running Restaurants

Categories: Wine
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