In Vino Veritas LXXIX: Off-Color Wines Sell Big

In Vino Veritas LXXIX: Off-Color Wines Sell Big

 In Vino Veritas LXXIX: Off-Color Wines Sell Big

By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)

An age-old expression that any good chef knows is that people also eat with their eyes. As any manager who runs a successful cocktail bar can also attest, the same is true for beverages, and we can apply this principle to enhance wine sales.

While taste and smell are always paramount for any bottle, the color of any given wine can unconsciously influence someone’s perception of that vintage and heighten satisfaction with that choice. Moreover, a wine’s extraordinary color can be utilized as either a written or on-the-spot unique sales proposition to convince patrons to give it a try.

This brings us to off-color wines. Think whites made from a spectrum of common varietals that can be described as having an orange, amber or burnt gold hue. Next, Gruner Veltliner from Austria and Vinho Verde from Portugal are renowned for their chartreuse coloring. Some Pinot Noirs can even be so light they have a semitransparent scarlet-ruby tint. Contrast this with a well-made Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which are quintessentially violet or Sagrantino di Montefalco that edge towards inky black. Finally, one could even argue that the entire surge of rosé sales in the past couple decades is a direct result of these wines’ brilliant array of watermelon glow, fitting with the ‘millennial pink’ craze.

My point through all this is that examples abound for labels that don’t fit into the standard white and red molds. While anyone who knows their wine would never judge any bottle based solely upon its label design or the liquid’s color, sommeliers and oenophiles represent only a small percentage of the population. And even still, a wine’s color is a factor in any formalized scoring system.

This leaves us with the average consumer who is likely to be marginally versed in their wine knowledge with a novice taste buds to boot. Say you put five whites in front of a wine rookie, and all are the same yellow color save for one that has some cloudy bronze shading. Do you think that, without any real depth of vinicultural knowledge, this individual will perceive the off-color glass to be better than the rest or in the top two? At the very taste, they may be intrigued.

While we often leave cellar orders to the sommelier or restaurateur who has several decades of drinking and loving alcoholic beverages under their belt, this can instill a disconnect with your patrons because they don’t experience wine the same way you do. More often than not, they don’t care about structure, tannins, terroir, blending percentages or any other jargon. Most of the time, they just want something that tastes good from a varietal that they are already somewhat familiar with and one that pairs well with their food.

I’ve had to deal with this scenario firsthand when helping oversee the development of a wine list as part of a dining outlet relaunch at a resort where I was the asset manager. To resolve the disconnect, we organized a full day when myself, the sommelier, the restaurant director and the marketing director all got together then met with a series of merchants to sample and rate their products. As part of this process, one criterion we ranked wines on was their color with an x-factor allowance for ones that were true standouts. Importantly, I wanted someone with marketing knowledge there to offer a differing opinion on what might appeal to the more novice guests.

After sampling over a hundred wines (and staying sober by using the spittoon!), we tallied the results and made a note to have a full range of colors for the by-the-glass menu. At launch, this proved to be a highly successful tactic to boost wine revenues as our servers were armed a simple and swift tool to help sell these beverages. If you are undecided and don’t have the appetite for more wine knowledge, then don’t worry about where it’s from or its vintage; just pick a color.

While I can divulge more on this rebranding story privately, the gist of it for you is to know that people drink with their eyes and plan the dining experience accordingly. This, of course, also pertains to the décor, lighting and general ambiance, but if you have an opportunity to market a bottle based upon its noteworthy coloring (or any other truly exceptional quality for that matter), then you should definitely consider it.

Larry Mogelonsky
 About Larry Mogelsonsky

One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes five books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017) and “The Hotel Mogel” (2018). You can reach Larry at larry@hotelmogel.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.



Media Contact:


Larry Mogelonsky

HotelMogel Consulting Limited

Email: larry@hotelmogel.com


Website: http://hotelmogel.com/




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