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Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

Studies inform us that wine consumption has continued to decline since the 2000s in Europe. This gives us the opportunity to look at the evolution of wine consumption, especially in restaurants. Les Grappes therefore offers you an assessment of wine consumption in the restaurant as well as a focus on its new practices. This is enough to understand the new challenges of serving wine in restaurants.


Wine consumption in restaurants: the balance sheet


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It should be noted that the restaurant is one of the favourite places for French people to eat, with 43%. Wine is consumed both in traditional independent restaurants (representing 5.55 million hectolitres), in chain restaurants (representing 250,000 hectolitres), in collective restaurants (600,000 hectolitres) and in cafeterias (with 100,000 hectolitres).


The practice of wine consumption in restaurants has declined significantly. There are three grievances that can be made to restaurants regarding the promotion and service of wine:


  • Wine is not systematically offered to the consumer, unlike water, even in bottles. Also, we sometimes see the disappearance of the PLAT + VIN formulas, which could be attractive and promote wines.
  • The main packaging, 75 centilitres, is outdated by current practices and is no longer able to satisfy the consumer. The bottle of wine is rarely ordered by a single consumer.
  • The price of wine remains high in restaurants, particularly because of the coefficients applied by restaurateurs. The price/quality ratio is not always respected, but also the price of wine is not in harmony with the price of the dishes.


However, new consumption practices must be seen as opportunities for restaurateurs to rebound and enhance wine consumption in restaurants.


Wine consumption by the glass


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If the 75 centilitre format tends to discourage customers, wine by the glass is the solution! Consumption is thus more controlled, reduced, and one has the impression of drinking less. It is therefore a lower risk, which allows moderate drinking. This practice also allows you to taste several wines, without having to drink a whole bottle. In addition, the price can be attractive to the consumer.
This practice has spread widely, so that a recent study showed that two thirds of customers in cafés, restaurants and hotels prefer wine to glass rather than bottles. This phenomenon is more pronounced among the younger generations who prefer wine to glass at 77%, when the over 50s show their attachment to the bottle at 32%.
This service should be promoted since for the moment it is mainly offered as an aperitif, and not as an accompaniment to dishes. It also allows consumers at the same table to enjoy different wines.


The "local consumption"


It is also important to note the trend towards local consumption in restaurants. Regional wines, produced from local terroirs, are very popular. We then find the same phenomenon as for other agricultural products: in the same way as dishes for restaurateurs, the wine must come from the region, testifying to its richness and local particularities.
This trend is very present in wine-growing regions such as Languedoc. It is about promoting your region, and for consumers, it is an invitation to celebrate and (re)discover the region.


Discovery and innovation


In addition to "local consumption", original wines are also highly prized. Indeed, they arouse interest and curiosity because they come from small terroirs and because they are of unknown names. Their discovery is facilitated by the practice of selling wine by the glass.
This is an opportunity for restaurateurs to play the originality card, while offering new wines that will interest and delight customers. Perfect for the curious!


Wine as an aperitif


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The fashion of afterwork and aperitif makes it possible to serve wine in the early evening. These small orders can be multiplied by the practice of offering wine by the glass. The idea is to offer an aperitif in the restaurant with a board and a glass of wine, just like at home, but gourmet.
This trend then makes it possible to increase sales and to celebrate wine as an aperitif drink.


Consumption and colours


As far as wine colours are concerned, consumption is more towards white and rosé wines, which are more suitable for aperitifs. The glass of champagne, on the other hand, is declining.
This is also the case for Bordeaux wines: despite the increase with wines by the glass, there is a continuous decrease in this type of wine, which is rarely consumed. This decrease is recorded from the 2009 vintage onwards: it would be the consequence of price increases for the 2009 and 2010 vintages, which would have discouraged customers, but also restaurateurs. The latter then turned towards other red appellations such as Languedoc or Côtes du Rhône. Bordeaux wines are considered less accessible to the customer, who will prefer novelty and discovery to tradition.


Marie Lecrosnier-Wittkowsky for Les Grappes.

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