Flights, such as wine or beer, are a growing trend in the restaurant industry. This simple tactic of offering multiple wine options in a single menu item can help expand your guests’ wine knowledge as well as offer them a unique experience. Even better, studies have shown that customers don’t mind spending a little more money on a flight than they would on an individual glass just for the experience of trying multiple options at once. Additionally, for a customer that is hesitant to spend money on a glass of wine they’re not sure they’ll love, trying it first as part of a larger flight is the first step towards selling your establishment’s more high-end luxury wines. Read on to discover five unique flights your customers will love that you can use to boost profits at your business today.
More Options for More Profits
Beer dominates the “flight” tasting game however, flights of wine have been growing in popularity as well. A flight is about a 2oz pour for each selection, and while that might not seem like much, it only takes a taste of a great wine to win the love of an adventurous customer. Flights showcase for your customers why the high end wines are worth the price and the following five types of flights are only a few of the many options that could help your business catch the attention of new customers and make their experience with you fun, educational and most important, profitable.
Regional Flights: Where the Wine Comes From
One of the most recognizable wine flights you could offer and expect the average customer to already have a mild understanding of, is a regional flight. The average customer knows where notable wine is made (think Napa Valley, California and Burgundy, France as a base line) but you can use this as an opportunity to highlight other great wine growing regions and educate the consumer on the differences in taste and flavor profile among them all. Each region has a distinct terroir- think soil, environment, and unique weather conditions that impart a special quality on the grapes. An easy way to connect with customers while serving a regional flight is to discuss the regional complexities that attribute to the unique flavors of the wine they’re enjoying and how they differ from other AVAs or regions.
Recently the Oakville Wine Merchant in Napa Valley installed 12 Napa Technology WineStations loaded with wines grouped by Napa Valley sub-appellations. Wines include highly sought-after selections from Bond, Shafer, Dominus, Dalla Valle and more, as well as 1881 Napa for an unparalleled tasting experience. Guests will be able to taste wines side by side from various wineries, AVAs, and regions all in one convenient location (say bye bye to hiring a driver to cart you all over the valley). To date this is the largest WineStation installation in Napa Valley and really allows patrons to experience the distinct nuances across wines in real time instead of hours later. Guests can compare notes and explore subtleties in real time for a true “deep dive” learning experience into expert wine tasting. Each WineStation unit holds 4 unique wines from different appellations in the Napa region, and 48 total wines are represented with plaques providing information about the particular wines and important qualities in each.
Varietal Flights: A Pinot Noir isn’t Just a Pinot Noir
Varietal wine flights are an easy way to educate your customers (or your staff!) about the complexity of a single type of wine. Customers who might think they’re not a fan of Pinot Noir can try three different Pinots from different regions and perhaps learn they’re palette prefers Pinot Noir from Oregon over Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. With the various climates and soils that make up the flavors of a single varietal, tasting them side-by-side as a flight is the best way to showcase that a glass of Pinot Noir isn’t just a glass of Pinot Noir.
An important note to mention is these flights aren’t only for attracting new customers. Wine flights should also be a tactic for educating your staff and giving them the tools necessary to discuss and recommend the best selections on your restaurant’s wine menu. It would be to your benefit to host a monthly wine class for your bartenders and servers where they can choose a flight of their own and ask questions. The more your staff knows about your wine, they better than can upsell to your customers.
Library Flights: They Get Better with Age
Like a fine wine… and you know the rest. One of the greatest draws to drinking wine is, arguably, its agelessness. Wine connoisseurs love to enjoy those rare and hard to find labels from their favorite estate, so why not really stand out by offering limited flights made up of a winery’s current Library wines. Library wines are bottles of vintages that often have been kept in the winery’s cellar to be re-released years after its debut. Library wines allow consumers to revisit past releases that are hard to obtain. They’re rare and have the “can’t miss” excitement that patrons can’t resist.
Vintage wines might seem like a large investment to offer as a flight, but keep in mind the value behind a flight of rare luxury wines. Flights should be your customers’ opportunity to try something new, and discover something they’d be happy to spend a little extra for in the future. While most customers are hesitant to purchase a full bottle of high end wine for $200 or $300, what’s the risk in spending $60 for a flight of luxury 2oz pours when you get to tell all your friends about the time you tried multiple rare wines? It gives consumers the chance to experience a small piece of luxury that they might not normally be able to afford. Additionally, your business can charge more per ounce than you would for the single bottle of wine increasing your profit margin significantly.
Vertical Flights: Similar While Also So Different
Vertical wines refer to a flight of the same varietal, from the same winery, but the single variable between the wines is the year of release. A flight of Raza Reserve Malbec 2014, 2015, and 2016 would be an example of a vertical flight that would sell well at any wine bar. For the customer who is unfamiliar with wine, a selection of vertical wines are a simple and easy way to ease them into enjoying this acquired taste by showcasing how a wine of the same varietal can change in complexity, flavor and texture over the course of a few years. Most customers know at least if they prefer red, white, or rose, so a vertical flight can educate them on how climate and environment can change year after year and how that has an effect on the flavor of the wine. This is a fantastic opportunity to discuss the history of a particular vineyard, the evolution of the particular varietal, and how current weather and climate conditions have affected the flavors of the wine. By the end of the evening your customers will walk in a novice and leave feeling more confident in their knowledge of wine and in your brand.
Biodynamic/Organic Flights: It’s Only Natural
In 2012 the European Union began to allow winemakers to use “organic wine” on their labels. Prior to that, wines were only labeled as “made from organic grapes.” Organic wines refer to ingredients that have all been certified as organic, with no added sulfites. Organic wines are by no means new, as some vineyards have been using organic practices to harvest their grapes since the 1980s. However, as the demand for organic and natural products have grown in the new millennium, many wine consumers have also requested their wines be produced with “all natural” ingredients. Some current popular and affordable organic labels include Domaine Coteaux des Travers Rasteau La Mondona 2014 from Southern Rhône and Château Maris Minervois La Livinière La Touge 2015 from Languedoc, France. The latter is also certified as biodynamic, which refers to a method of farming based around a specific astronomical calendar.
Bar owners would be foolish to ignore this growing trend, especially if organic and/or biodynamic practices are an important part of your business model. With the expansion of dietary restrictions across the world, the best way to remain inclusive and innovative is to offer options for the health conscious consumers. What better way to get consumers interested than providing a flight of these wines and letting them test the differences for themselves?
As wine sales continue to play catch up against the popularity of craft beer and artisanal cocktails, today’s bar owners and restaurateurs should be considering this simple, and frankly quite fun, move towards including and promoting wine flights on their menu. Customers appreciate it when they feel like they got the most for their money, and had a unique experience they’d love to come back for. The flight options mentioned above should be a jumping off point for how your business can use wine flights as an opportunity to be creative, make a major profit, and highlight the best you have to offer on your wine list.