Human beings are pack animals, and it’s a lot easier to swim with the current than against it. Beverage alcohol is not immune to this phenomenon, despite the data demonstrating that the most successful concepts are those that push boundaries. But being innovative takes a lot of guts, and it’s often the path of least resistance for bars and restaurants to offer up a menu that’s in line with current trends. If not, they may risk leaving money on the table, or worse, closing entirely.

But a serious downside of groupthink is its monotony, which is most evident when it comes to wine lists. A decade ago, groupthink may have influenced what styles of wine are present on a list: Everyone had a Pinot Grigio and a Sauvignon Blanc. However, in recent years, it seems to have narrowed down to the bottles themselves, with every restaurant carrying the same 20 or so. Perhaps this is because distributors are really good at their jobs, or maybe it’s because those are just the bottles beverage directors are convinced will sell, so there’s no point in sourcing any others.

And if these beverage directors did take the immense amount of time it takes to find these unique bottles, there’s no guarantee that people will even buy them. After all, it’s incredibly difficult to sell someone on a wine from Greece they’ve never heard of when they came in expecting to sip Burgundy.

On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” Adam, Joanna, and Zach discuss the ways in which groupthink can negatively impact the drinks industry, from nearly identical wine programs and back bars to companies and brands being afraid to take risks. Plus, a brief discussion of Zach’s latest piece on generational succession in American wineries. Tune in for more.

Zach is reading: The Flaw That Prematurely Killed Some of the World’s Finest White Wines
Joanna is reading: Brut Busts and Brett Who? The Next Big IPA Sub-Styles That Never Were
Adam is reading: Do Empirical Spirits Serve Any Purpose Beyond Fueling Viral Headlines?

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