Restaurant patrons are often looking for more than an excellent menu and an eclectic atmosphere: they are hoping to enjoy a dining experience! For this reason, more and more restaurants are moving toward an experience-first approach, which aims to improve the entire process for the restaurant patrons. In many cases, restaurant owners, managers and chefs turn to food and wine pairing to impress their guests.
Food and wine pairings allow chefs and sommeliers to pair individual dishes with different wines in hopes of enhancing the flavor of both the food and the beverage. It is more of a subjective process than an exact science, leaving plenty of creative space to use to impress customers.
In the United States, about 60% of consumers prefer red wines, while 30% enjoy white varieties. Restaurant operators should consider the trends regarding wine consumption in their own areas, and create food and wine pairings that accommodate the preferences of a variety of different patrons.
"Food and wine pairings is all about balance. The wine must not hide the food, the food must not hide the wine" explains Mr Gildas L'Hostis, EHL's Senior Lecturer - Oenology
As experts have noted, drinking alcohol has become a pivotal part of the restaurant experience. Food and wine pairings allow consumers to feel like they are making an informed selection when they are perusing the menu. Elin McCoy is a Bloomberg critic who posted wine trends that the hospitality industry should note in 2016. "The future for wine looks bright, though craft beer and craft cider are siphoning off plenty of attention," said McCoy in the Bloomberg post. "Still, more people than ever (in the U.S. and UK especially) are drinking more expensive bottles—although you can get by quite splendidly under $50, too." This showcases the willingness of customers to spend more in order to enjoy more flavorful wines, particularly those that complement their meal and their surroundings.
"In addition to offering different varieties of wine, restaurant operators also will want to offer pairings at various price points in order to include all customers." continues Mr Gildas L'Hostis, EHL's Senior Lecturer - Oenology
For Proprietors — It just makes good business sense to include food and wine pairings. According to Nightclub&Bar, pairing alcoholic beverages with food menu items makes your restaurant not only seem more cosmopolitan and interesting, but it also will help drive up profits and increase sales.
For Patrons — Generally, food and wine pairings will improve the experience of the restaurant customer. They will feel more connected to the restaurant, and ultimately feel as if they atmosphere is enhanced because they can trust the selection they have made. It gives them an opportunity to be adventurous, without being worried that they have made the wrong choices.
Food and wine pairings can be incorporated into a menu in a variety of ways. Restaurant owners may consider creating a food and wine pairing event, in which patrons sit down for a several-course meal. Each course would include an expertly crafted food and wine pairing aimed at improving atmosphere and pleasing the palate. Another option would be to list each appetizer, entree and dessert on the menu with one or two selections for a delicious wine that pairs well with it. This allows customers to make a choice that fits their own unique tastes and desires.