There’s no need to be mundane or predictable when it comes to wine-by-the-glass programs. In fact, in clubs, we are pleasantly surprised when members request an upgrade to our wine-by-the-glass offerings. If your club wants to establish relevance with its existing program or embark on developing one, recognizing member needs is just the first step.
While developing your wine-by-the-glass program, there are a few crucial questions to consider:
What is the purpose of the program?
You may be missing the mark if the primary goal is to expand wine selections. Let’s delve into the aspects of variety and choice.
Who is your target market?
Are you catering to the needs of existing connoisseurs, attracting new influencers, or enhancing your current food and beverage program?
Is your goal to boost wine sales?
When properly costed out, wine-by-the-glass programs can be highly profitable.
Par for the Course
Chardonnay and Cabernet are likely to be the most-requested varietals on your list, but it’s essential to conduct a thorough analysis of your product mix to identify the top sellers. Interestingly, approximately 340,000 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon are planted worldwide and around 211,000 hectares of Chardonnay. While this may seem conventional, it is often an excellent place to start. Not only are these varietals popular, but they also offer a wide range of styles. For instance, a Rombauer Chardonnay differs vastly from a Domaine William Fèvre Chablis, and a Faust Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet is light-years away from a quality vintage Château Margaux. The key is to capitalize on the diverse styles, even if it means featuring multiple selections from the same grape varieties.
Once you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to explore the cellar and get creative. With approximately 10,000 wine-producing grape varieties worldwide, you can craft a relevant program to excite your members and guests. However, selecting these options can be overwhelming, so consider polling your members for input.
It’s advisable to feature major wine-producing regions such as Burgundy (offering Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), Bordeaux (offering Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec), Mosel (Riesling), the Loire Valley (Muscadet, Chenin blanc, Sancerre aka Sauvignon Blanc), Spanish Rioja (Grenache and Tempranillo), Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and the good ol’ USA.
Don’t forget to consider your cuisine. This presents an incredible opportunity to create perfect pairings and excite the culinary team. Matching food and wine enhances the overall member experience, and wine-by-the-glass programs serve as an excellent gateway to introduce members to new styles.
For example, a beautifully prepared shrimp tempura with a cool papaya salad is an extraordinary match for Crémant d’Alsace.
Another solid pairing could be an off-dry Riesling with green curry mussels. The possibilities are endless.
Hole in One
Ensuring quality and freshness is paramount for wine-by-the-glass programs; simply popping a cork and leaving it in the fridge for days won’t do it justice. Explore wine preservation systems that can maintain the integrity of your offerings. One modern preservation is designed to pour wine without removing the cork. Another is specifically tailored for sparkling wine. And still, another replaces oxygen with inert gases like argon and nitrogen. Collectively, these systems offer opportunities to create a low-waste program and maximize your margins.
Having a relevant and dynamic wine-by-the-glass program translates to member satisfaction and can also serve as an influential factor for newcomers who are eager to explore different styles. These satisfied members are more likely to recommend their experience to friends and guests or even purchase a bottle of something they enjoyed after sampling it.
Additionally, when paired with proper preservation methods, wine-by-the-glass programs enable members to taste a particular wine before committing to a full glass, instilling a sense of responsibility. This approach also lets your club showcase high-end offerings like Grand Cru or Premier Crus options, allowing members to drink less but enjoy higher-quality wines.