These numbers are so important that the trade magazine that reported them, Wine Business News, said that they show that the “wine landscape in USA restaurants clearly shifted in 2008.” Given the way the wine business tends to discount bad news, that’s an amazing statement.
And what did the study, conducted by Ronn Weigand and Restaurant Wine, find that was so industry shattering? That the total restaurant wine market shrank by 5.5 percent in 2008. And the 20 most popular restaurant wine brands in 2008? Almost to a bottle, they are $10 wine companies.
More, after the jump.
I’ve talked to people in the wine business who discount this annual study, questioning Weigand’s methodology (and that his numbers often don’t dovetail with “conventional wisdom”). But given what has been going on since last summer, they seem to make sense. And if 2008 was bad, and it had six or seven good months, how bad will 2009 be?
A couple of highlights from the study:
• The best-selling restaurant wine brand in 2008? Kendall Jackson. The rest of the top five: Sutter Home, Beringer, Franzia and Inglenook. Yes, I know, shocking. No $100 wines in there.
• The wines whose sales increased the most from 2007 to 2008 were Schmitt Soehne Relax riesling, up 37.5 percent; and Barefoot merlot, up 23.6 percent).
• Riesling was one of the few restaurant bright spots, with sales increasing 16.7 percent.
• The top 100 wines didn’t fare as badly as restaurant wine overall. Their sales were down just 3.5 percent.