Wine sales may have flattened, but now is a great time to push wine and pizza pairings
In August 2022, National Geographic in the United Kingdom published an article about how vintners in Italy were reclaiming the centuries-old traditions of connecting with the land to produce extraordinary wines. As frequent eruptions from Mt. Vesuvius have lined the fertile grounds of the Amalfi Coast with wine friendly minerals, those who grow grapes for the purpose of winemaking are enthusiastically reconnecting with the past to celebrate the heritage, as well as the future, of wine.
In the United States, as the popularity of craft beer exploded and bourbon-based cocktails came en vogue, wine’s market share dipped. Those in the wine industry are voicing optimism as we head into 2024, however. A report published by Wine Industry Advisor earlier this year indicated the beverage experienced a 2.3 percent increase of on-premise sales in 2022.
On-premise is the sweet spot for wine. As put by the Wine Industry Advisor article: “Wine’s popularity continues to be affiliated with food-led occasions.” As such, the types of wine in demand by American consumers appears to be affected by the types of dining establishments to which the masses flock. Fine dining has suffered since the pandemic. The openings of fine-dining establishments are down, which means traditional red wines that count on these diners have suffered. Table wines lost 4.2 percent of market share in 2022, according to the aforementioned article. Meanwhile, sparkling wine is more popular than ever in the United States. Sales are expected to grow 15 percent in volume by 2026, according to Wine Intelligence.
White wine is poised for strong growth as well. According to Data Intelligence, the global white wine market reached $39.4 billion in 2022. That number is expected to hit $59.1 billion by 2030. The segment enjoys a compound annual growth rate over five percent.
Will overall wine sales continue to decline in a flattened market, or is a resurgence on the horizon? It seems that question has been top of mind for many, and the wine industry is making a push to ensure its products stay in the limelight as diners continue to evolve with their preferences.
Enter Barbera — an Italian wine that many sommeliers cite as the most ideal for pairing with pizza. Its high acidity stands up well to tomato sauce. Its mild, fruity flavor — plus low-tannin quality — is appealing to consumers. So much so that much of northen Italy considers this accessible vino to be an “every day” wine. Yet, while it is hailed for its versatility and ideal for pizza, Berbera’s popularity has been on a long decline.
That may be indicative of the ever-evolving landscape in which we live. As consumers shift their tastes, the wine industry — steeped in tradition and perhaps slower to adapt to change — is learning how to respond to the new normal.
Nonetheless, wine has always been an integral part of the pizza industry. No doubt it has suffered with the heightened emphasis on delivery and carryout post-pandemic, but for dine-in pizza consumers, wine remains a staple of the experience for many. The key is to carry the right wines and market them to customers. Well-done tabletop signage and a push from servers is often all it takes. Mentioning “specials” and/or how wine XYZ “goes so well” with the Margherita or the white pie can drive traffic. Consumers enjoy hearing about pairings, and the storytelling component to wine is a great driver that allows your servers to display a knowledge that customers find entertaining.
In your next server training meeting, consider having one of your wine sales reps conduct an educational pour and pairing session. These are enjoyable and provide a nice break from the typical staff meeting.
Lastly, as we head into the holidays, wine sales tend to peak. Christmas and New Year’s are huge for the wine industry. And that presents an opportunity for pizzeria owners to offer holiday pairings designed to boost check averages. Get to work with your distributors and kitchen crew now to roll out some holiday pairings.
Since white wines are top of mind to many of your diners at the moment, now’s a good time to roll out a “White Christmas” holiday special. Bundle a white pizza of your choice with a bottle or glasses of white wine recommended by your most trusted wine rep at a price that works for you and the customer.
Need a little help with the white pie? Here’s a Pizza Today favorite to get you started.
White Pie with Speck
Jeremy White is the Editor in Chief for Pizza Today.