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
Outback
Ruby Tuesday
Red Lobster
Red Robin
Longhorn Steakhouse
Carrabba’s
P.F. Chang’s
Romano’s
The Cheesecake Factory
Bertucci’s
Carino’s
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.

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