Cheers May 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 34 of 51 35 May 2016 • can sample freely, without having to buy a full pint. The self- serve aspect of the system also gives customers faster access to a refill, leading to more beer sales, Riaz says. "It puts the consumer in the driving seat." BRIO MOVES TO SUSTAINABLE WINES Brio Tuscan Grill is working to make its wine list 100% produced with sustainable winegrowing methods. The "polished" casual restaurant chain with 64 locations is about 95% of the way there. Columbus, OH-based Brio Tuscan Grill made this pledge six years ago. "As we started to pick new wines, we dropped off wines that are not sustainable," says Kenna Warner, regional vice president of operations. "It was about being good stewards of the earth and appealing to customers—especia lly Millennials—who are more interested in this," Warner, notes. "As we have a larger national presence, we need to be even more responsible." Finding sustainable bubbly wines and moscato has been challenging, though. And because of the program, Brio's wine list has changed in the past five years. Gone are many Italian wines, to make way for more California selections. "We thought we needed the Italian wines to be authentic, but we've realized it matters much more that people understand the wine, and that it's important to be sustainable," Warner says. "We now have a list that's global rather than Italian." Brio has an extensive wines-by-the-glass program, offering 17 reds and 14 whites. By-the-bottle options are two to four more for each red and white. The concept offers the same wines in each of its 14 restaurants, but it does feature local options through the year, including rosés. "We don't change the things people have fallen in love with," Warner says. "Our goal is to get people to try things they haven't tried before." DEL FRISCO'S GRILLE MAKES FINE WINE APPROACHABLE To encourage patrons to try more wines, and to make fine wine more approachable and fun for everyone, Del Frisco's Grille launched a "50 Under $50" wine list in late 2015. The restaurant's 20 locations each offer 250 to 700 wines by the bottle, "and we know that can be intimidating to the diner," says Ed Eiswirth, beverage director for Southlake, TX-based Del Frisco's Restaurant Group. "We felt it was something we could offer to give guests some reassurance that you can enjoy a great bottle of wine in our restaurants without spending $75 or $100" on it, he adds. The 50 under 50 wines are not highlighted in their own section on the menu but rather interspersed throughout; servers can point them out upon customer request. "We want customers to get in and experience what we have on our wine list," Eiswirth explains. The 50 Under 50 wines often come from outside the well- known regions such as Napa and Bordeaux. "If you look for newer regions that are less expensive but have names that are less known—Argentina, Chile, Sicily, South Africa, Washington, Oregon—there are a lot of exciting things," says Del Frisco's wine director Jessica Norris. Going forward, Del Frisco's will carry at least 50 wines on this list, but the number will often be closer to 60. The 50 will remain static, and some regional wines will round out the lists. Bottle sales are up since Del Frisco's Grille started this program, "and we are seeing a slight decline in average bottle price," Eiswirth says. SMITH & WOLLENSKY RAMPS UP BY-THE-GLASS SELECTION WITH CORAVIN Smith & Wollensky is opening up the world of wine for its consumers by using the Coravin wine system. The steakhouse chain began using this tool last fall to open premium wines to serve them by the glass. The Coravin system punctures the cork with a needle, making a small hole for the wine to pour though, and uses argon gas to replace oxygen in the bottle. Opened bottles of wine can be kept indefinitely. "A lot of restaurants will shy away from superpremium wines by the glass, because you can end up with a lot of waste which impacts your cost," says Tim Speziale, assistant general Brio Tuscan Grill is working to make its wine list 100% sustainable. Smith & Wollensky began using the Coravin wine preservation system last fall to be able to offer guests more premium wines by the glass.

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