Canadian Pizza Magazine

Marketing insights: January-February 2014

Michelle Brisebois   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

What’s ahead for wine and beer

One of the fastest ways to grow your total revenue is to increase your alcohol sales.

One of the fastest ways to grow your total revenue is to increase your alcohol sales. While traditional “watering holes” are significantly down in sales, consumers haven’t necessarily given up enjoying a glass or a pint of something special altogether.

alcohol consumption  
From 1995 to 2011, wine went from 18 per cent to 30 per cent of Canadians’ total alcohol consumption, while beer fell from 53 per cent to 45 per cent, indicated BMO Economics’ special report on the Canadian wine industry.


Consumption of alcohol has shifted from an activity separate from dining to one very much connected to enjoying a meal. This is great news for restaurants, since the addition of a glass of beer or wine to a meal can increase the dollar value of the guest cheque significantly. As we welcome 2014, let’s examine some of the beer and wine trends that will help restaurants benefit from their consumers’ passion to experience food and drink together.


Kristina Inman is a business development co-ordinator and wine instructor at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College. Here, innovations around food, wine and beer are studied and celebrated, and Inman has a front row seat to the emerging trends. 

For some time now, a big trend has been the growth of wine consumption at the expense of beer. From 1995 to 2011, wine went from 18 per cent to 30 per cent of Canadians’ total alcohol consumption, while beer fell from 53 per cent to 45 per cent, indicated BMO Economics’ special report on the Canadian wine industry. Spirits fell from 29 per cent to 25 per cent.

“Baby boomers are a large group and are affluent and can afford nice wines,” Inman said. “The information age has made it easy for people to read and learn about wine, and having wine regions here in North America that are now making excellent wine has brought it closer to home so people can visit wine country. It’s not such an abstract concept anymore.” 

As North Americans have begun exploring wines grown and made closer to them, they’ve shifted away from the big monster brands and are embracing the smaller craft wineries.

“A sense of place is very on-trend right now,” says Inman. “Indie wines, much like indie music, are hot.”

This shift away from the big beverage companies has impacted the beer market too. Creemore Springs is owned by Molson Canadian, but the affiliation isn’t trumpeted in the marketing materials or packaging, presumably to maintain its niche appearance.

While the local movement is thriving, so is exploring wine and beer from other countries. Germany and Ireland are already well known for ales, with Belgium gaining a bigger foothold.

“As with wine, people aren’t just quaffing their beer – they actually want to think about the beer as they drink it,” said Inman. 

As such, beers with higher alcohol content are becoming more popular and some of the processing tricks normally associated with wine are being used to make beer. Beers are now being oak aged and fortified, described Inman. Brewpubs share beer tastings and many restaurants are pairing beers with their menu items in much the same way wine has been paired for years.

Provence is a foreign wine region experiencing a surge of intersest. Exports from Provence to the U.S. grew by 41 per cent, reported the Provence Wine Council.

Rosé continues to grow in popularity, not as a sweet cloying wine, but as a fresh and dry and oh-so-food-friendly beverage. While Provence is a well-established wine region, other areas of the world are producing lovely wines and some of them might surprise you.

Tasmania, Austria and Romania are making wines, and why not? They have the right latitude to offer the vines optimal growing conditions and are close to other wine regions. Countries like Croatia, Slovenia and Georgia are finally being recognized for their wines although they’ve been making them for hundreds of years.

The Mediterranean region has been traditionally hampered by politics and export restrictions, but the climate is excellent for growing wine.

“In fact, the Zinfandel grape’s DNA has been traced back to the Plavac grape in Croatia,” said Inman.

While a sense of place and exploring new wine regions is on-trend right now, knowing which wine varieties are hot is the key to encouraging your customers to enjoy a glass. Pinot Grigio and Riesling are two important varieties to have on your menu. They both have wide appeal and are well known to many customers. However, others are finding appeal as well.

“Viognier is getting bigger with its notes of peach and jasmine,” she said.

It would be great with Alfredo or a white pizza with prosciutto. Sparkling wine is making an appearance on more menus offered by the glass, as many people like to enjoy some sparkling wine before their meal while they’re reviewing the menu. 

When it comes to red wine, Pinot Noir continues to grow in popularity. It’s very food friendly and often referred to as the “white wine drinker’s red” because it’s lighter in style than the heavy Bordeaux blends. Cabernet Sauvignon has become very popular with its bold, juicy notes. 

Consider including an icewine as part of your wine list. It can pair beautifully with luscious desserts or with a cheese plate as the saltiness of the cheese amplifies the sweetness of the icewine. Release your inner mixologist and try some icewine cocktails or add a splash to a glass of sparkling to make Kir Royale.

If there were an overarching theme to 2014’s wine and beer trends, it would be the idea of offering options from some of these newer unique regions. It’ll generate some extra sales, but most importantly, enhance the quality of the dining experience you offer.

It’s always good to have positive latitude.

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in brand strategies. Michelle can be reached at 

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