Yesterday I asked a question on Twitter.
“Why do restaurants and chefs think they know better than their customers when it comes to alcohol-free wine and beer?”
It provoked a few responses.
One person replied “perhaps because they do, food and drink being their area of professional expertise?”
This is the same sort of thinking the leads to chefs refusing to cook a steak to the customer’s liking because the chef knows best.
Well, maybe the chef does know best, from a technical perspective, but from a taste perspective the only thing that matters is the taste-buds of the paying customer.
The same applies to drink.
If a customer wants an alcohol-free beer or wine, that’s what they want.
They don’t want water.
They don’t want cola.
And they don’t want yet another orange juice.
They want a good de-alcoholised Merlot, a fruity de-alcoholised Chardonnay or a great alcohol-free wheat beer.
Other people replied agreeing that they found it hard to find alcohol-free drinks when they went out, and they wanted the choice too.
One woman said she often phoned up before hand to find out if the restaurant sold any alcohol-free wine or beer.
Her husband doesn’t drink, and he isn’t alone. There are lots people like him around the country.
Pregnant women. Dieters. People on medication. People in recovery. Drivers. Workers on call. People of certain faiths.
There are lots of reasons people don’t drink.
As I said in my reply to her “yes & many people base their decisions on availability of alcohol-free for one or more in the group. no alcohol-free = lost sales”
We’ve had restaurants tell us they don’t sell alcohol-free wines because they don’t think they are good enough.
The chances are they haven’t tasted an alcohol-free wine since Eisberg, 20 years ago. We don’t sell Eisberg.
But even if they have tasted a good alcohol-free wine and still don’t like it, that isn’t the point.
We are testament to the fact people who drink alcohol-free wines like them.
We’ve been selling them for nearly 4 years. We sell a lot of them.
It’s like a restaurant refusing to sell anything but meat.
No one expects all restaurants to sell only vegetarian food. But they do expect a vegetarian option.
If you were a vegetarian in a group of meat eaters and the restaurant had nothing to offer you except beans on toast, you’d be understandably annoyed.
Especially if your fellow diners were tucking into the finest steak or lobster.
But when it comes to drinks, all we are offered are the beans on toast – the water, the orange juice, the cola.
We aren’t 10 years old. We don’t want soft-drinks.
We are adults. We want an adult drink with our adult food.
Is that really asking too much?