It’s not Christmas without a good cheeseboard. For an easy, low effort course for the busy festive period, try it on your menu for the big day, New Year’s Eve or Christmas parties
Drinks to get the festivities started
Upsell your best
Similarly to food, we’re seeing that some customers are looking to ‘go premium’ in their drink choices. CGA reports that ‘more than a fifth of wine drinkers plan to spend
more time and money in the on-trade than they did before Covid-19.’ This will be especially important in November and December, with customers likely to be in the mood for celebrating after missing out last year.
CGA says: ‘Of those who drank wine in lockdowns, nearly a third experimented with wines that are different to what they usually drink.’ This suggests that customers will be open to trying new wines, however, they might
just need a little help in discovering them. Senior National Account Manager at Accolade Wines Bill Hedley says: “Give customers information about the wines on your menus. Wine and food pairings are a great way to encourage customers to spend a little more and try something new.”
If you’re stocking new wines or trying to push more premium lines, it is important to make sure your staff are knowledgeable about them. Seventy-five per cent of people who pay more for wine expect staff to answer questions about it, according to a Wine Intelligence On-Trade Report.
Getting your selection of wine right is the first step to
a successful Christmas behind the bar. The stand-out grapes of the moment are sauvignon blanc – replacing pinot grigio as the most popular white wine – and merlot, according to CGA’s recent Wine Insights Report, Overcoming COVID-19. Malbec is also top of customers’ lists – with the grape having grown the most in popularity this year.
Wines from New Zealand and Argentina are also popular with customers. However, there could be supply issues with Kiwi wine. David Floyd, Business Development Executive at Concha Y Toro, says: “With yields of New Zealand sauvignon blanc down by over 30% this year due to poor harvests, we expect to
see strong growth within the Chilean category with Casillero Del Diablo sauvignon blanc and Cono Sur sauvignon blanc. The latter has great eco credentials (CO2 neutral), so is well placed to attract customers.”
“74% of wine consumers already do, or are likely to, pay extra for a better quality wine when out”
The sparkling season
We’re all hoping for fun festivities this festive season, giving everyone a reason to smile and pop open the bubbly. Two trends to look out for in fizz are British sparkling wine and sparkling cocktails.
CGA reports an increasing interest in buying British fizz since Covid, and pre-pandemic, in February 2020, on-trade sales of these sparklers were up 37% year-on- year. If you have the right customer base – it tends to have a higher price point – definitely consider adding a bottle to your festive menu.
“35% of people are tempted to spend more for special occasions”
Mix it up
The second prediction from CGA is all about cocktails. Mark Newton, CGA client director and wine category specialist, explains: “One of the key elements for the future for fizz is cocktails. This clear association with sparkling wine provides a great platform from which to continue the momentum towards fizz as a core ingredient. This is especially key for younger demographics, who can become the long-term sparkling consumers of the future.”
The good news is sparkling cocktails can be quick and easy to create. Start with Kir Royales, Mimosas and Bellinis, which just need a dash
of fruit purée, juice or liqueur plus sparkling wine or Champagne. Another simple serve
is a French 77, which is sparkling wine, gin, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice. Or try
a fruity Ginsecco, which is a flavoured gin combined with fruit juice and prosecco.
If you end up with leftover sparkling wine, you can use it in the kitchen in place of white wine to add flavour to dishes such as risottos, or make a champagne jelly for your specials menu.