We don’t know if there is a magic of number of wines by the glass that, if offered, would necessarily increase your restaurant’s wine sales. But Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is sure most restaurants aren’t giving customers enough choices. That’s why the 65-unit chain offers 100 wines by the glass, four times as many as an average restaurant.
That many wine choices may seem like overkill. But a look at the outside research Fleming’s cites in support of its strategy might get other operators wondering if their restaurant’s wine-by-the-glass list could indeed perform better.
First, the research. Fleming’s points to figures from Vinexpo showing that the U.S. now consumes more wine per capita than traditional strongholds France and Italy do. Millennials, the fastest growing demographic among wine-drinking consumers, say their leading reasons for purchasing wine are the varieties available by the glass and the ability to pair their choices with food. Another factor: research from the Wine Market Council has found that core wine drinkers want and expect choice.
But there aren’t that all that many choices of wines by the glass at the restaurant level, according to Napa Technology’s 2012 Wines By the Glass Survey. The average: 25 selections.
To Fleming’s that doesn’t seem like enough.
“It’s clear that choice and selection in most restaurants are limited compared to the growing wine demand,” says Maeve Pesquera, national director of wine for the company.
To that end, Fleming’s now offers a 100-choice wine list that includes 17 cabernet sauvignons, 10 pinot noirs, eight red wines and blends, nine chardonnays, eight white wines and blends, eight cabernet-merlot blends, seven merlots and merlot blends, six sweet wines, six dessert wines/ports, four sirahs and zinfandels and four sparkling wines. Unit-level wine directors fill the remaining slots with wines that are particularly popular in their local markets.
More than 30 wines on Fleming's list  are priced at $10 or less.
Fleming’s also gives customers multiple ways to purchase wines. They can choose to order it by the glass; as part of a self-chosen three-wine flight, with two-ounce pours of each wine; as a glass-and-a-half Big Pour; or by the bottle.
"We're known for our impeccable steaks and award-winning hospitality, but with current trends and increasing demand, we're highlighting wine and giving our guests what they want," says Pesquera.
We don’t think every restaurant needs to offer nearly this many wines by the glass. But if you’d like to inject some life into your restaurant’s wine sales, check out the infographic that accompanies this story. It could help guide your thinking about which direction your wine program might want to head in next.
Infographic: Fleming's breaks down wine-by-the-glass program