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I read a Bloomberg article about the end of small plates in restaurants. It made me feel nostalgic and got me thinking about what dining will be like in the future. I used to work as a food and beverage director at prestigious hotels in Beverly Hills and Napa Valley, so I’ve seen how small plates can bring joy and exploration.

Small plates allow diners to try different flavors without ordering a full meal, promoting a social dining experience. To complement these dishes are wine flights, offering a journey through different regions and styles.

Small Plates and Wine Flights: A Perfect Pairing

During my tenure working at these prestigious hotels, I implemented an elaborate wine-by-the-glass program. I introduced wine flights to reduce waste. This required buying glassware and holders, but it was a great way to introduce guests to different wines. This approach led to less spoilage in the wine-by-the-glass program and allowed guests to compare wines, a feature they loved.

An assortment of red wine glasses arranged in a flight, showcasing a variety of hues and intensities

The Decline of Wine Flights

Despite their benefits, wine flights lost popularity over time. My favorite wine bar currently does not offer them, and I haven’t seen a wine flight menu in ages. Customers had fun trying new wines with different wine flights, really embracing wine education

So why don’t more restaurants and wine bars partake in flights of wine? 

1. Decline in Wine Consumption

According to Business Wire, the overall volume of wine consumption has been declining for years, with a notable decrease in the popularity of wines priced below $12. Changes in how consumers spend money have made it tough for wineries and wine businesses. This often means they have to take wine flights off their menus.

2. Changing Consumer Preferences

The wine industry struggles to appeal to younger consumers, who may have different budgetary considerations and drinking preferences compared to older demographics. This poses a challenge for winemakers and advertisers in creating wines that resonate with the younger consumer segment.

3. Impact of Extreme Weather

The impact of extreme weather on global wine production, as reported by CNN, has led to decreased production levels, creating challenges for winemakers worldwide. Wineries are saving money and trying new ways to bring in customers, but wine flights are not as popular.

Wine Flights at the Intersection of Shared Experiences

A group of friends gathered around a table, each holding a wine glass and engaging in conversation while enjoying a selection of wine flights and delectable small plate appetizers

Small plates allow for creative dishes and let diners try different flavors without having to order a full meal. Their decline represents a significant shift in dining trends. It’s important to remember what made them special: the chance to try different foods and share the experience with others.

If fewer small bites are on the menu, are guests more inclined to share an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert? In the restaurant business, sometimes less is not more.

Making a Comeback 

Wine bars are becoming more popular, offering a great way to try new wines (similar to the Winelikes app- shameless plug). Wine bars make for fantastic date spots, offering a combination of delightful wines and shareable small bites.

Could the resurgence of wine flights be the answer? This resurgence could be attributed to various factors:

The wine industry is improving as more people are enjoying various types of wine and seeking new tasting experiences. This change is leading to a shift towards more diverse and unique wine offerings. Consumers are becoming more adventurous in their wine choices and are open to trying new flavors and styles. Overall, the wine industry is evolving to cater to the changing preferences and tastes of consumers.

Wine flight with chalkboard sign and grapes

The Takeaway

It’s important to adapt in the changing dining world, while keeping the special aspects that make eating out unique and a shared experience. This shows a commitment from businesses to creating enjoyable dining experiences, allowing customers to discover new flavors and pairings. 

This is why I created Winelikess, to change the industry for beginner wine drinkers and bring a new way to explore and connect through food. After all, our motto is “Sip, Socialize, and Share.” The best way to enjoy it is with friends, trying different wines and food together! 

You can download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play!

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