Fries and a Glass of Wine, Por Favor

The typical American walks into McDonald’s, and expects to order his regular items: a Big Mac, fries, and coke.

The typical Argentinian walks into McDonald’s, and orders an Angus beef burger, two meat empanadas, and a glass of the local Malbec.

Oh, the life of an Argentinian—living life in the fast lane (pun intended).

The cost of getting a full meal at Mcdonald’s in Argentina is USD$10.80; pricey in the eyes of the fast food consumer but not so much considering the amount and quality of the food.

Keep in mind that the high-end meal is only available in the city of Mendoza—the wine capital of Argentina.

In France as well, the burger is one of a kind. I don’t even know if it can be called a “burger” anymore if the patties have been replaced with baguettes.

That’s not all. The cheeses used will also be substituted with locally produced cheeses.

Termed the McBaguette, the new item has been in inception for almost two weeks now. It will be offered for six weeks in all of its McDonald restaurants in France as a trial run. The cost is a tad bit more expensive, but still maintaining within the price range of McDonald’s premium burgers.

The alteration of the patty is due to the French’s obsession with bread.

Research have shown that the French view bread as one of their daily staples, but more significantly, 65% of the sandwiches sold in France each year are some variation of the baguette.

The prevalence and necessity of bread is such so that even the McCafés are baguette slices with jam on the side for breakfast.

At the core of it, the reason for McDonald’s expansion of new menu items across the globe is to attract and retain a wider range of clientele.

Numerous other examples exist in parts of Europe and Asia, including offering a tomato-based soup in Spain, using a rice patty and teriyaki beef in Japan, and having the option to substitute corn soup for French fries in Taiwan.

However, the newer explanation for the addition of menu items is to appeal to more high-end consumers. McDonald’s probably will never and shouldn’t become an upscale eatery—that would ruin its brand image. But it can aspire to become the Target in the fast food industry: more organized, modern, and fresh.

Wine’s It Girl

She was the youngest woman (29 years old) to be named a Master Sommelier, a globally known credential in the beverage industry that takes four stages to complete and more years of preparation. As of December 21, 2011, there are only 178 master sommeliers in the world, 18 of whom are women. She’s also the owner of Corkbuzz, a wine bar in New York opened just four months ago.

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Meet Laura Maniec, who knows pretty much everything there is to know about wine. She attributes much of her success to building great relationships with her peers in the industry, and of course, commitment to running her place. Prior to opening Corkbuzz, she had been the wine director of BR Guest restaurant group for 10 years. While at BR Guest, she oversaw 20 New York restaurants’ wine lists while simultaneously preparing for the Master Sommelier examinations.

Ms. Maniec’s presence at Corkbuzz 12 hours a day, seven days a week, is dedicated to not only overseeing the service of the wine bar, but also offering various classes ranging from “Pairing Wine with Takeout Food” to “How to Choose a Wine for a Date.”

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With so many kinds of wines to choose from, Ms. Maniec makes it easier for customers by making at least 40% of the brands recognizable, such as Muscadet and Chardonnay. Many people presumably frequent a wine bar for gatherings or causes of celebrations, so Ms. Maniec is careful in that respect to not have customers spend too much time inquiring the staff about the wine selection.

A smart girl operating a well thought out dining strategy in a niche market certainly makes for a successful business. As Ms. Maniec quote when starting Corkbuzz, “I didn’t want a wine school where I ran a tasting and said goodbye. I wanted to teach without being preachy.”