As a sommelier for the past twenty years, I have witnessed many changes in the restaurant industry: 9/11, the dot-com bubble of 2002, the 2008 recession, and now COVID-19. All of these moments forced the wine industry to change to stay relevant.
Food, beverage, and service is a part of my family ethos—it’s who we are. We have a great appreciation for this industry and our craft. It has supplied our family’s income stream for decades, but the global changes have altered our lifestyle and dining out has been very limited. Since March of this year, my wife and I have had friends over (with physical distancing and a limited guest count, of course) for dinner four times. We have gone out to dinner only twice, in Charleston and San Diego.
The silver lining in all of this has been an opportunity to provide a restaurant experience to our friends who do not want to dine out right now. As seasoned food-and-beverage professionals, we have graciously hosted multiple restaurant-style dinner services from a four-course meal to family-style plating and casual dining. We have incorporated different dish patterns, multiple cutlery, multiple glassware, and plenty of delicious food.
During this pandemic, we all have been revising our work and home life. In the wine industry, the direct-to-consumer and off-premise retail markets have become highly trafficked channels to help distribute wine, which was previously the purview of on-premise sites, such as hotels, clubs, and restaurants.
With this in mind, we asked other industry professionals, “What does the future of wine in fine dining look like? Specifically, over the next one to two years at a minimum.”