Mark Gmur, CWE
CAN ZERO-PROOF WINES WIN
THE MAINSTREAM IN THE ON-PREMISE?
The stats from retail are compelling, upward momentum in the category means people are gravitating to the idea, at least at home, for now. But will it translate to sales volume in restaurants? We are fortunate to represent some of the industry leading Zero-Proof brands in Freixenet Alcohol Removed Sparkling, Giesen 0%, and Hand on Heart (produced by the Miller Family Wine Company in collaboration with Cat Cora), so the topic is even more interesting to me for that reason.
Few restaurant companies, if any, have adopted an early mindset to the category. That is not to exclude one industry leader, Tommy Bahama Restaurants. They adopted an approach to put in 0% besides the regular Giesen Sauvignon Blanc on the menu. They sell a bottle of 0% for every ten bottles of regular Sauvignon Blanc, those are some real-life metrics to go by. Not insignificant.
In the past six months, we have been presenting Zero-Proof wine to the nation’s leading beverage and alcohol programs, and the general reception has been greeted with a decent amount of curiosity but more trepidation than anything else. Does it feel like we are promoting something that goes against the principals of having a good time out, and drinking On-Premise? Where does this fit? Zero proof wine flips the notion of drinking wine on its head. Recently I opened a bottle of Giesen 0% and sipped on it during a Zoom call. Needless to say after some quizzical looks and some questioning as to why I was drinking wine at 10am, I had to explain it was Zero Proof. But it was a fun experiment for sure.
There are a couple of schools of thought on its application in the On-Premise. First is the obvious – having something on hand to offer and upsell, other than water, iced tea, soft drinks or lemonade to offer your lunch crowd. You have something interesting to offer your designated drivers, pregnant women, or non-imbibers. Think of it as an amenity.
The next school of thought goes beyond that, should Zero Proof wine be put out there in the mainstream On-Premise, and be promoted and would the success mirror retail? How will On-Premise guests react? We are faced with a chicken or the egg scenario. If we do not put it out there we will not know. Based on what we see at retail, there is a thirst for it (pun intended).
We are still working hard at this, and time will tell what the Zero Proof wine market looks like in the On-Premise.