Casual Chain Wine Selections Decline in 2014

November 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

If you are a recipient of Winemetrics’ newsletter, you have already seen this headline. Casual chains cut wine listings considerably in 2014. We think the primary cause of this is greater competition from craft beer and cocktails, which are successfully challenging wine distribution in this dining segment. I have already outlined how craft beer and spirits outperform wine in profitability in a previous post. Still, it appeared that wine was holding its own in casual chains until this year. We were shocked to see all of the top 10 casual chains in our survey reduce their wine selections along with regional chains. Below is a partial list of chains with reduced wine selections in 2014:

Olive Garden
Ruby Tuesday
Red Lobster
Red Robin
Longhorn Steakhouse
P.F. Chang’s
The Cheesecake Factory
Yard House

Overall reductions add up to over 17,500 lost By-the-Glass (BTG) placements and more than 22,600 By-the-Bottle (BTB) listings. A study reported by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research indicates that smaller list sell less wine overall so that wine revenues in these accounts will probably decline. This could become a self-fulling cycle in casual chains. “Reduce the wine list = sell less wine = reduce wine list further as the current selection of wines does not justify its investment” This sounds like a beverage program being run by accountants, not beverage professionals.

One thing is certain. The wine suppliers who were included in those lost -17,000+ BTG listings and -22,000+ BTB listings, will be selling fewer cases on-premise this year unless they find alternative outlets.

Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel Becoming ‘Optional’ Varieties

November 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Syrah/Shiraz and Zinfandel, once among the top 10 varieties on-premise, have fallen to 16th and 15th respectively as reported by Winemetrics 2014 On-Premise Wine Distribution Report. Malbec now has more combined By-the-Bottle (BTB) and By-the-Glass placements than either and is ranked 11th. Red Blends, those non-traditional varietal mixes (not to be confused with Bordeaux Blends, Rhone Blends and Super Tuscans, which Winemetrics tracks separately) have jumped to 7th position.

Although Red Blends frequently incorporate Zinfandel and Syrah and often have similar flavor profiles, their catchy names and packaging, appeal more to Millennial consumers. More restaurants, especially casual chains with smaller lists, are dropping Zinfandel and Syrah/Shiraz from their wine lists.

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