The changing tastes of food and drink pairings

The changing tastes of food and drink pairings

The changing tastes of food and drink pairings

The landscape of the hospitality industry is constantly shifting, so we make it our business to follow it closely. Our most recent survey delved into the changing tastes of guests when it comes to the drinks they pair with different dishes.

We found that there is a growing proportion of guests who are choosing to forego alcohol altogether - the uptake of soft drinks was much larger than anticipated. Age proved to be the most influential factor affecting whether diners preferred to order a soft drink with their meal, with nearly 45% of those aged 66 and over choosing this option the most often.

Soft drinks also proved popular with the 18-25 year-old demographic - nearly a third (29%) would select them to go with a dish in the survey. However, interestingly, after the age of 25, the popularity of soft drinks decreases, dwindling to just 16% before taking an upturn again with the 66 and over bracket. Hospitality operators may want to cast a critical eye over their soft drink selection and consider how best they might market these drinks to accompany the dishes on offer - it is no longer all about alcohol.

With the clean living and healthy eating market growing steadily and alcohol losing popularity amongst Millennials and Gen Z, an attractive soft drink offering paired with the passion of team members could mean the difference between a good and great guest experience.

We also found guests are veering away from traditional pairing recommendations and looking for something different when it comes to food and drink combinations. For example, the majority of diners polled would opt for red wine to accompany pork belly rather than the traditional glass of white.

However, there are some traditional choices that still hold strong amongst guests. Men were significantly more likely to pair ales with their food, with 12% choosing this tipple at some point in the survey compared to just 3% of women. In contrast, women are more likely to select white wine, choosing this beverage 27% of the time, in comparison to 20% of men. The findings indicate that although guests are open to new food and drink pairings, traditional options are still popular and must be given due attention when designing the menu.

Traditionally, staff are accustomed to making recommendations from the wine list, and there is often a clear distinction between the dishes that go with red wine, and those that go with white. However, the results highlighted above show the importance of the front of house teams' interaction with guests. Staff need to understand the importance of listening to guests' comments, and give as much attention to recommending the right cordial, tonic, or juice to a non-drinker as they would a bottle of wine.

Training can indicate what drinks the operator would recommend with a meal, but interaction and attentiveness can indicate where staff can add something additional to what the guest is already looking for.

Back to Blog