The hottest on-premise wine trends

New data has revealed the importance of wine in the Australian on premise, with one in three consumers sipping it during food-led occasions.

The CGA by NIQ Australia Consumer Pulse Report highlighted the importance of a well-optimised menu design, with over half of consumers wanting to both find a serve within their budget and also to learn about the country of origin and grape varietals, highlighting how operators’ expertise in this area.

While consumers aren’t actively looking for food and wine pairings when eating out, over three in five of those who drink wine on food-led visits are open to suggestions. A further 34% of consumers try wine menu recommendations.

Paolo Saccone (above), director of wine at Etymon Projects, said there is growing interest at the group’s venues – The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar, Loulou Bistro and Tiva – in unique and artisanal wines.

He has curated an extensive wine list of 700+ mostly French and Australian wines alongside some broader European producers for The Charles Grand Brasserie.

“The list is extensive and diverse, purposely designed in a way that makes it accessible, helps to educate and encourages exploration,” he said.

“Our sommelier team also have an influential role in shaping our guests’ preferences and introducing them to new and exciting wines. Their expertise and recommendations can inspire consumers to explore lesser-known Champagne producers and styles that might not have been on their radar before.”

Wine list premiumisation

According to Wine Business Solutions’ Wine On-Premise Australia 2023 report, wine continues to premiumise in the on-premise, with the average price of a bottle of wine on an Australian wine list now more than $100, up 10% on a year ago.

The report noted that the biggest contributing factor to the rise was the replacement of Sauvignon Blanc by Chardonnay as the leading white wine style on Australian wine lists. It also noted White Burgundy was strong driver of the change.

Saccone said White Burgundy/Chablis was currently the biggest consumer ordering trend at The Charles during 2023. Saccone said the varietal had been so popular in recent months that it had been challenging to keep up with demand.

Chablis ranges from $125 to $640 on the wine list at The Charles. One of Saccone’s current favourites is the mineral-driven 2021 Pierrick Laroche Domaine des Hâtes.

“Also, guests are curious and are happy to discover more interesting varietals such as white Carricante from Sicily, Gruner Veltliner from Austria, Pet Nat,” Saccone said.

“There’s a growing curiosity and demand for low alcohol drinks and non-alcoholic beverages. Sustainability is also a big one – guests appreciate being educated about this and acknowledge the impact that environmental issues affect the ever-changing world of wine.” 

Saccone represented Australia at the 2023 Best Sommelier of the World contest in Paris in February.

Run by the Association de la Sommellerie International (ASI), the gruelling competition saw Saccone pitted against 68 other competitors, representing 65 national sommelier associations.

It involved several intense days, with quarter finals, semi-finals and finals. At different stages it covered theoretical exams, for example, 90 minutes with 300 plus questions about all aspects of beverage in the world of wine, beers, spirits, water, coffee and tea.

There were also practical service challenges where the scenario is unknown. Written and verbal beverage blind tastings were held against wildcard wines, spirits and beers throughout the world, with only few minutes to complete them. 

“Focus is everything and you only have one chance at every stage,” Saccone said.

“People prepare for years and years to be there and push through all of their regional competitions to come to this moment. Even though it was a huge challenge, I can truly say this is what I love to do! 

“I was very proud and honoured to represent and showcase Australia on the world stage. I felt truly grateful and privileged to have this opportunity and for me, just to be there was a dream come true!”

How Champagne tastes are changing in Australia

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Categories: Lifestyle