The latest consumer data from New York-based Nielsen CGA has revealed that Thanksgiving is the most valuable annual occasion for still wine, providing ample opportunity for local bars and restaurants expecting an influx of hometown consumers this week, it says. Wine outperforms spirits, beer, cocktails and soft drinks in that 39 percent of U.S. consumers choose to drink wine when out-of-home during the Thanksgiving period, with significant opportunity for wine-led bars as well as specific dining channels where wine and food pairings are key.

“As one of the key holidays of the year, Thanksgiving and the days that surround it represent a great opportunity for suppliers and retailers in the on-premise,” said Matthew Crompton, director of Nielsen CGA client solutions, in a statement. “This time of year is often bigger for suburban/rural neighborhoods as opposed to urban ones, as many people retreat to their family homes for the holiday. And although the traditional Thanksgiving meal is often a home-based affair, the rest of the week represents a great opportunity for dining-led outlets to drive footfall, and our latest latest OPUS data reinforces that wine should not be forgotten during the occasion.”

Fine dining is a good example of a channel where wine benefits from its association with food. Forty-five percent of fine diners choose wine, with a considerable 44 percent of them choosing their drink because it complements their food. Upselling also is a strong factor driving wine sales in the fine dining channel, as 70 percent of fine diners have the propensity to trade up to a more expensive option.

Quality of food and drink is the number one factor driving consumer visitation and spend in the polished casual channel. With 40 percent of polished casual diners choosing their drink because it goes with their meal, wine has a specific advantage over other categories. Eighty percent of consumers in this channel also say brand is significant when choosing a drink, meaning there is a considerable opportunity to sell well-known brands and higher quality wines. Keeping the wine menu concise, clear and appealing straightforward also is beneficial as 63 percent of polished casual visitors chose the restaurant based on the menu, the company says. As 89 percent of polished casual diners say that staff and service are important to the experience, it’s also important for polished casual staff to be trained in both upselling and recommending wine.

Convenience of location is the second biggest factor driving consumers to a particular independently owned outlet, with locals looking for a “friendly” and “unique” experience. Forty-four percent of drinkers in the independently owned channel choose their drink because it goes with their food. With an emphasis on locality, consumers in this channel are also likely to value specific wine/drink menus that feature local brands that will enhance the overall experience of the food specific to their local restaurant. Crafting a specific Happy Hour special that caters to the increased demand for wine during the Thanksgiving week could be beneficial for sales as 72 percent of independently owned consumers visit the on-premise between 5 and 8 p.m., an ideal time frame for happy hour offers, Nielsen reports.