A quasi-experimental study in wine instruction
Granucci, Penelope R.
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Wine is being produced in 47 states in the U.S. Texas has been successfully growing grapes and making wines for over 12 years. Although the industry is relatively young, the wines, in general, are considered quality products. The per capita consumption of wine in the U.S. is 3.1 gallons per person per year. However, in Texas the consumption of wine is only 1.9 gallons per year. Vintners and grapegrowers grapple with the problem of expanding the base of consumers. The Winegrowers of California (vintners, grapegrowers) expended considerable resources in investigating how people become wine consumers. Marketing research has indicated that product knowledge is critical to the purchase of wines. Further research indicated the majority of the persons who became wine consumers began through the suggestion of food servers in restaurants. They developed a program to expand consumption of wine through restaurateur (and server) and retailer training which proved successful in increasing consumption and customer-base. The current study was similar to the Winegrowers of California program, however with stricter control of variables and curriculum. Sixty-two food servers in two restaurants served as subjects for the experimental and control groups. An average baseline of wine sales per customer was established for each subject in both groups. The subjects in both groups were administered pre- and posttests on product knowledge. In addition, the subjects' sales of wine were tracked for a four-week period after baselines were established. The experimental group participated in wine instruction, which consisted of two training sessions, two hours per session. The instruction was based on product knowledge, components tastings, wine tastings, selling skills and service techniques. A multiple regression analysis was performed on the change in sales of wine per food server. Independent variables included age, gender, education, major in college, wine instruction (said study), previous wine training, hours of wine training, experience as a food server, personal consumption of wine, and increase in knowledge. An increase in wine sales (average .08 per food server, overall 44% increase) was reported with gender. Females increased their wine sales significantly greater (.05 level) than males in this study. None of the other variables in the multiple regression analysis were found to be significant at the .05 level. In order to determine the effect of the wine instruction on knowledge, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed using the change in knowledge (difference between pre- and post-test scores) of both groups. The results indicated a significant difference in the change in knowledge at the .05 level, with the experimental group showing a greater increase than the control group. Generalization of the findings is limited due to the small number of subjects and regional influences. Replication of this study in other regions of the country is recommended. Variables for further study include variations in the wine instruction, such as male instructors and/or male and female co-instructors, the season of the year for training, and incentive programs. Other variables may include longer tracking periods of food server sales, use of different types of restaurants and wine programs.