A recent study by the Wine Market Council and the Nielsen Company found that 44% of American adults drink wine, and more than 50% of those consumers order wine by the glass when dining at any type of restaurant. Of these consumers, 24% reported that they ordered only by wines by the glass while dining out.
Clearly, BTG programs are a critical part of your product mix, but what are customers looking for? According to a 2013 survey of wine professionals conducted by Napa Technology, value was the most important factor considered by people who order BTG wines (39.5%). The second most important factor was the opportunity to taste new wines (29.6%); and the third highest reason was individual palate considerations (27.2%).
Offering wines by the glass sounds like a slam dunk, right? Not so fast. Experienced sommeliers and beverage directors will tell you that running a successful BTG program involves a lot more than picking out five reds and four whites that your sales rep brought by. There are many details to consider, from reflecting your cuisine and service style, to making sure that your portion sizes and price offer the perception of value in the eyes of your guests.
Will your patrons balk at a $20 glass of Zweigelt on your list? Equally, if your entrees are priced at $30, how would a $5 glass of unknown red from Jumilla reflect on and impact the rest of your list? Finding the right balance of value, revenue, innovation and profit is a challenging task and–as is common with a lot of things in the restaurant industry–little decisions can have a large impact.
This all boils down, of course, to the issue of understanding your customer: knowing what they want and what they are willing to buy. You should have had some concept of your core customer from well before the day you opened your doors–and that conceptual persona should be continually evolving just as your customer base shifts over time. While there will always be an element of guess-work to finding the perfect product mix, understanding your client via empirical data collected through your POS and reservation systems is a critical part of building a successful wine program.
In ensuing blog-posts in this series, we’ll offer five tips to help you run a more successful wine by the glass program. We asked experts in the industry what they felt the most important lessons they learned in their BTG program experiences, and we’re honored to share them with you.
Tip 1: The Wine List is for your Customer, not you
Tip 2: Price it right
Tip 3: Be a Variance Hawk: it’s all about your pours
Tip 4: It’s not a charity: be ruthless with your laggards
Tip 5: Leverage your BTG slots