What's the payoff?
What is it that has the world's most prominent sommeliers and restaurateurs willing to invest in these sophisticated wine dispensing and preservation systems? Is it the savings? Or maybe the importance of consistency?
"The traditional storing and pouring method works just fine for my establishment." I hear this all the time. Responses like that simply indicate a fantastic opportunity for first movers. The masses are typically adverse to adapting to the "new," but as the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm.
Wine dispenser and preservations systems can be a large investment of resources for many hospitality professionals. These sophisticated machines require money, maintenance, and time to adapt, but like all investments, you have to pay to reap the rewards.
The newest generation of wine dispensing uses preservation technology, like the WineEmotion QUATTRO+4, and comes equipped with innovative features that result in money saved and more money earned. These machines extend far past the novelty that was once so attractive in the old technology.
30 Days of Argon Gas Preservation
Typically, higher-priced bottles of wine bring in higher profit per unit. The limiting factor is the shelf life of a premium bottle of wine once opened. Restaurateurs and wine professionals typically reserve higher-priced bottles solely for bottle purchase. They are missing out on the significantly higher margins that come with servings by the glass.
Higher-priced glasses sell less frequently than cheaper "house" glasses, so when a premium bottle is offered in the by-the-glass program, you can expect to experience spoilage. Wouldn't it be nice to get 30 days of preservation from an open bottle of wine? Argon gas preservation systems, like the one found in each WineEmotion wine dispenser, guarantee freshness for about 30 days from opening. Some brands promise upwards of 60, but a lot of industry professionals believe that may be pushing it. Furthermore, if you need 60 days to sell 4 or 5 full glasses, you might want to pick a different wine.
Most food-grade, 100-percent bacteria-free gasses will work for a preservation system, but none of the other gasses have the efficiency of argon. Argon is a denser gas and much less lost leakage occurs. Argon also sits more heavily on the wine, resulting in a stronger barrier between bacteria-laced oxygen and the wine. Under normal usage the gas only needs to be refilled two to four times per year. Food-grade argon gas can easily be found at major gas distributors that service the food and beverage industry like Praxair or Airgas (these two industry leaders also provide the most competitive prices).
Precise Pour Amounts Limit Waste
Next time you tend bar or serve a customer a glass of wine via the traditional method, take note of the amount over-poured. Research shows (from a large sample of WineEmotion customers) that prior to incorporating a wine dispensing system, pouring most often resulted in a 15 to 20 percent over-pour in each glass.
When a restaurateur sets prices for their wine, they use exact math. If you're not using a wine dispensing system, pouring does not get an exact result. If you calculate $3 per ounce on average for your by-the-glass program and serve 5 ounce glasses, you can be losing $3 on each glass every time you pour. Waste like this can result in thousands of dollars lost each year—in fact, much more than the initial investment needed for a dispensing system.
The precise pour control assures the restaurant consistency with every pour. Each machine can be set to pour three exact amounts. Of course, each staff member deserves your trust, but by controlling pours every time, the element of theft also become less of a concern.
Three Volume Controls
Want to grow that profit margin even more? Offer Tasting and Half-Glass portions (or any portion you desire for that matter). The industry standard is that by offering Half-Glass and Tasting options you can grow your total profit margin 10 to 20 percent.
It seems intuitive that a free hand pour could more easily serve various sizes, but this is the fastest way to grow waste. A wine dispenser can be preprogrammed to serve three different volumes with the touch of a button. Some brands use flashy touchscreen technology and others use mechanical buttons. The advantage of the mechanical button is that there are fewer complicated parts to malfunction. It also makes it easier for OSHA certifications.
The Tasting option is an especially nice feature for up-selling. Customers who are hesitant to purchase a more expensive, unfamiliar bottle or glass have the option to "try before they buy." Wineries have used this method for years to market their wines. Wine dispensers can do the marketing for you.
Automated Serving Capabilities
Just imagine if your customers didn't have to wait for their next glass, or even better, if they could socially explore all the wines you have to offer. Research shows that by adding an automated service option to your wine program, you can grow revenue by 40 percent.
Customers purchase prepaid wine cards that give access to each machine. Every time they choose a wine and volume, the prepaid money is deducted from the card. Restaurateurs also have the option to preload cards with restaurant credit for loyal and VIP customers. Who wouldn't love that?
Each wine dispenser brand stores the account information in their own unique way. WineEmotion's state-of-the-art, secure Wine Card System safely stores the account and customer information in the restaurant's own secure server where restaurateurs can confidently keep track of revenue and other customer data. (It is important to make sure the card systems are protected against duplication.)
To comply with state liquor laws, there are control features that restaurants can set to each card. Whether you decide to limit by frequency, amount, or just sell prepaid cards in smaller amounts—the control is in your hands to ensure a safe process.
Ideal Temperature Storing
Wine dispensers also act as a refrigeration system for your wine. Depending on the model you choose, you can store any wine at its ideal temperature. The QUATTRO+4 has the ability to store and serve three whites in their perfect temperature range and five reds in their range—or four whites and four reds. The possibilities are vast.
Keep in mind that some systems are significantly more efficient than others. Refrigeration typically require a fair amount of energy consumption. It is important to find the perfect fit for your situation.
Other Unique Features
Several other features contribute to the overall value of wine dispensing system. If interested in the highest standard of preservation, it is important to choose a unit that isolates each bottle from the others. This will eliminate any aromatic cross-contamination. Technology like Isol-Plus can insure this type of isolation.
The machine's design should also be highly customizable. Every restaurant and bar has its unique brand identity, and with those come very different interior designs. The machine should be customizable from the color of its outer case to the kind of accent lighting placed inside to display the bottles. The machine should also be capable of holding a wide range of bottle sizes (375ml, 750ml, 1500ml).
Stay Ahead of the Curve
We are creatures of habit, and without first movers and those who dare to adopt new innovative technology, we are destined to fall in with the pack inevitably going nowhere. That statement might be a little dramatic, but doesn't it make sense that in order to separate yourself from your competitors, you have to learn new tricks?
The value of a wine dispensing and preservation system can far offset the effort that goes into learning the system and maintaining it. In the end, it can also have a huge payoff. The elimination of waste alone will save the equivalent cost of the machine in less than a year. Include the ROI growing feature mentioned earlier, and the machines start to look like a no-brainer for the evolution of the beverage service industry.
The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.