…As Wine Experts Weigh In From The Field
Napa Technology, developer of WineStation 3.0, conducted its third annual survey* asking leading wine industry professionals to share what they see happening in wine trends in restaurants, arenas, hotels, cruise ships, and retail venues.
Informed predictions for 2013 include a continued effort to reach Millennials, greater emphasis on women wine drinkers and a general pronouncement that wines-by-the-glass programs should stretch beyond the “known” varietals and provide more choices. Last year’s Napa Technology survey revealed that ordering wines by the glass was on the rise, driven by a more sophisticated and younger customer, but that the Baby Boomer generation were a mighty purchasing force not to be ignored.
The general consensus for wine selection trends in 2013 focuses on an interest in the unconventional wines from New World producers including Argentina, as well as a resurgence of Old World wines from Spain – both seriously encroaching on the California wine stronghold.
Demographic Groups To Watch
Millennials edged out other groups as the demographic that will continue to drive the wines-bythe-glass sales with 44.3 percent of survey respondents confirming that this group will outpace both Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. However, most industry experts (68.9 percent) reported that Boomers make up a “significant” portion of their wines-by-the-glass revenue. More than 70 percent of those polled also shared that Boomers account for 20 to 50 percent of their total wines-by-the-glass revenue.
Napa Techology’s analysis is that although Millennials may be driving the exploration of new varietals, they most likely are spending less per glass than their more economically stable Boomer counterparts. This provides a huge opportunity to provide education and tasting opportunities for all demographic groups with the goal of increasing what consumers will spend per glass.
Aaron Inman, General Manager and Founder of Pinot Patch, an emerging wine label, believes that in the future wine will be more highly targeted not by demographic but by regional preferences. “Wine preferences are highly dependent on familiarity with wine in general. In areas like the San Francisco Bay Area consumers will generally spend more on a glass of wine across all demographics.
Donna Hood Crecca, Technomic Wine Industry Analyst, reports that wine is firmly positioned as a food-friendly beverage appropriate for everyday occasions. She states that all the stars aligned at the same time – legible and understandable wine labels, familiar varietals, and accessible price points – when Millennials came of drinking age.
Gena Carlin, Tasting Room Manager at Calistoga, California’s, Up Valley Vintners states, “Baby Boomers are slowing down on their wine buying. They have the cellar full, so to speak, and they are now making very selective purchases. In Napa Valley, Boomers want small, limited production, hard to find wines. And when they find something they like, they’ll pay a higher price and purchase it by the case.”
What’s Driving The Wines-By-The-Glass Trend
According to 2013 survey results, value is the most important reason people order wines by the glass (39.5 percent); with opportunities to taste more wine as the second driver (29.6 percent); and individual palate considerations as the third most important reason (27.2 percent).
Millennial preferences for individualism, adventurous palates, and economic restraints contribute to the growth of the wines-by-the-glass trend.
According to Thea Dwell, Wine Blogger and Founder of Luscious Lushes, “A strong bythe-glass program allows the customer to make a selection based on food pairings, as they progress through the meal. It also allows a party of two or more to enjoy their personal favorites, without having to agree on a single bottle.”
Varietals Gaining Popularity
Not surprisingly, given that value and adventure are two key traits driving the wines-by-the-glass trends, Malbec and Spanish wines were listed as those that are gaining popularity.
George Wine, Founder of exclusivewineclub.com, sums up the popularity of Spanish wines in the United States, “Spain has a long wine making tradition and many years of marketing efforts to export to the U.S. market. A huge Spanish speaking community, an emerging wine drinking population segment, in the U.S. makes it easier to engage with Spanish products. And as wine always goes with food, popular Spanish cuisine makes an appealing pair with Spanish wines.”
However, Champagne and sparkling wines were noted by 37 percent as a category that is moving up in popularity just behind Pinot Noir at 38.4 percent. While traditionally Champagne and sparkling wines have been reserved for special occasions, this survey indicates that they are making inroads into the core rotation of everyday drinkers. According to Michele Smith, Proprietor of Vino Bello, a Burien, Washington, wine bar and wine shop, “Bubbles are on the rise. We carry 10 to 12 splits on the menu, from Champagne, Prosecco, and CAVA to Brachetto, at all times to keep up with demand. And bubbles are not just for women, men are ordering up as well.”
Varietals Losing Ground
Chardonnay was the clear loser with 40 percent of survey respondents reporting that its popularity is retreating with more adventurous consumers. Many survey respondents believe that the increasing interest in other white wines, such as Albarino and Torrontes, is contributing to the demise of Chardonnay.
Wine, Women, & Boomers
Women wine drinkers represent 30 to 50 percent of their total wines-by-the-glass business as reported by our wine experts. Most recognize women, across all age groups, as the key to a
robust wine business.
According to Marian Jansen op de Haar, Wine Curator for Women of the Vines, and the person responsible for choosing bottles for MORE magazine’s new wine club, More Uncorked, “Women are much more likely to choose a wine based on a recommendation from a friend and less likely to be as concerned with scores.” She adds, “For women wine is an affordable luxury that can be enjoyed every day.”
Reporter Kara Newman, Wine Enthusiast,recently wrote that this was the first year the Wine Market Council included statistics on bottle vs. by-the-glass consumption due to its rising influence. And women account for higher consumption rates of wine by the glass than men. Despite the fact that survey respondents report women and Boomers make up a significant part of their customer base, most do nothing to attract either group. However, of those who did indicate they actively pursue these groups, promotions and an increase in varietals top the list of efforts taken.
To attract Boomers, adding value, more wines by the glass, and more varietals were listed as top tactics.
Wine-By-The-Glass Lists Growing
A whopping 83.4 percent, more than 8 out of 10 operators, report adding more offerings to their wines-by-the-glass programs. The majority (45 percent) have added 3 to 5 additional wine selections.
Although wines by the glass are becoming increasingly important to profitability, 55 percent report still using a dated/manual preservation system and more than 18 percent of operators do nothing to maintain the quality of an open bottle of wine.
This leaves the door wide open for competitors to capture market share from venues that do nothing to ensure a great glass of wine is poured every time. In a previous Napa Technology wine consumption survey respondents reported that most consumers were savvy enough to know when they were being served an oxidized or otherwise spoiled glass of wine.
According to Jayne Portnoy, Vice President Brand Strategy & Marketing for Napa Technology, “Because consumers are so well educated, venues can no longer get away with pouring unpreserved open bottles of wine. Their customers can taste the difference.” She adds, “And without preservation, having a diverse by-the-glass program, is going to make it nearly impossible to remain profitable.”
The rapid adoption of the WineStation in mid-range and upscale brands, such as Shula Burger and the legendary steakhouse Ruth’s Chris, indicates that sophisticated wine programs are critical pieces to appeal to educated wine drinkers.
Napa Technology believes that wines-by-the-glass programs will continue to grow as consumers demand more variety, operators gain positive experiences with wines by the glass profitability, and wine preservation technology becomes more widespread.
Industry experts agree that a wide variety of global wines are driving consumers’ insatiable appetite for wines by the glass in restaurants, cruise lines, arenas, hotels and more. To be successful with wines-by-the-glass programs, operators are deftly keeping up with
today’s educated wine consumer by providing choices in varietals, value pricing, and developing a deep understanding that each demographic requires a different approach.
Napa Technology’s WineStation 3.0 poured more than 10 million ounces of wine through its systems in 2012 and is on track to more than double that number in 2013.
Through surveys, studies, WineStation data, and ongoing conversations with leading wine industry experts, Napa Technology remains at the forefront of what’s next in wine consumption trends.
*Commissioned by Napa Technology, the Wine, Women and Boomers survey took place in February 2013. The sample size included a mix of 90 sommeliers, wine directors, restaurateurs, hotel operators, wine producers, media, analysts and wine buyers who were contacted by Angelsmith via a private database, select open and closed social networks and one to one phone interviews. Individuals who participated in the survey were existing users of wine preservation systems, non-users of preservation systems, multi-unit restaurant chains, upscale single-unit fine dining restaurants, and national luxury hotel brands.