May 20th to 23rd saw the annual National Restaurant Show take over McCormick Place in Chicago for one of the largest showcases of all things hospitality anywhere on the planet!
2017 was our 20th year attending the show and over that time we’ve seen the profile of visitors, exhibitors and the great city of Chicago itself change immeasurably…
Team Bermar were in the South Hall showcasing the finest wine and Champagne preservation systems on the planet and over the 4 days we welcomed visitors from as far and wide as Brazil, Curacao, China, Germany and even a few of our friends from nearer home in the UK! By far and away the largest number of visitors to our stand were the owners and operators of America’s restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels and, as Tom Berresford, our Commercial Director explains, we picked up a few valuable tips from our friends across the pond when it comes to a great wine by the glass service.
“Spending 4 days speaking with savvy operators from across the USA I came back to London with a head full of new ideas on great wine service… the work that so many businesses I met are doing to raise the profile of wine and to turn it into a profit making, guest satisfying experience for everyone was phenomenal. Here’s a few of the key takeaways:
- Firstly, the key phrase of the show for us was “premiumization” – across the board operators were looking for ways to offer their guests a better (and more expensive) wine by the glass service. Whether it be introducing Napa Valley heavyweights by the glass, serving up vintage Cuvées by the flute or giving guests something completely new to try, Operators aren’t afraid to experiment and they know their guests will ‘trade up’ given the opportunity to do so (check out this Champagne by the glass list from a Chicago steakhouse as an example of premiumization at work!)
- Service is KING! Each and every glass of wine we enjoyed over our visit to Chicago was served beautifully – the Perfect Serve has really taken off in this city; the glass delivered to the table accompanied by your wine selection in a small pichet, a taste offered before the pichet is poured into the glass, all complimented by a knowledgeable introduction from your server… it certainly encourages you to be more adventurous in your selections!
- The breadth of wines available by the glass is often staggering! We met up with a loyal Le Verre de Vin customer who is now offering 340 wines by the glass (his entire wine list). His principle is simple, if a guest wants to try any wine by the glass he’ll open up the bottle. The open bottle is then resealed and the wine hits the chalkboard as a ‘special’ until the remaining glasses are served. The confidence to do this is all thanks to Le Verre de Vin and if you get lucky then every now and then there’s some spectacular wines on offer by the glass – a taste of Screaming Eagle anyone?!
- Lastly, these operators understand and embrace preservation. Everyone we spoke to was looking at how to guarantee their guests’ experience is memorable, how to ensure every glass of wine is served in great condition and how to maximise profits generated from an extended wine programme…. No wonder it was a record show for the team at Bermar!”
If you’d like to discuss your wine programme or any aspect of wine & Champagne by the glass then don’t hesitate to drop us a line, we’d love to chat with you….
Until 2018 Chicago…