So you’re in a new job and you're creating a new wine list, overhauling your existing list, or just looking at ways to improve the one you have in front of you. Before getting started, we need to understand what you expect from the wine list. It's not always from the customer’s point of view, but more importantly from the restaurant’s. So what do we want to do? You are running a hospitality business and this must be your first thought. You should not only be looking to maximize profits but guest satisfaction as well.
Do not organize your list by price.
You’d better not sort your wines by price. Why? Because customers will start at the top and go down to reach the price that they feel comfortable with and order the wine according to this factor. If your customers don't know much about wine at all, they will surely do a certain thing. They’ll order the second cheapest wine all the time. That's for sure.
The best way is to organize by the flavor profile, from light to full. This requires a little more work on your shoulders, but don’t hesitate to ask your distributors for a little help.
If you don’t organize by flavor profile, you can sort them alphabetically or by region or by color.
Customers want food and wine pairings.
The number one thing that will set your restaurant apart from the mass is the ability to make pairings. Your customers will love it. Sit down and talk with your Chef. Make a long talk about the taste of his plates. Ask him about his opinion. Speak with a sommelier as well. Make a plan and write down all the possible pairings of each wine. Try to have alternative choices for each case so that you will always have the ability to suggest two wines. An affordable and an expensive one, so that you will throw the ball to the customer to choose. This will sell more wine and deliver a better experience for the customer and the waiter.
Provide detailed information about each wine.
Except food pairing suggestions, today’s customer wants information. They don't see the waiter as a dish carrier but as a consultant. They want to have a special moment, they are ready to pay for that and they expect the perfect information. In any case they have access to everything on demand on their smart phone, but they want to know it by you. At a minimum you can give them info about the country, the region, the subregion and the appellation. Ask your distributor for some more detailed information to give an extra touch to the whole process.
All of this information helps your guests, it helps you increase staff knowledge and improves the service staff training.
"I like on the table, when we're speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine.”
Vassilios Canellos is a Hospitality Professional Hospitality Professional with more than 20 years of experience in leading service staff, managing teams and ensuring food safety standards, procedures and processes are followed. During this time, he's coached and mentored emerging talents, shared knowledge with several teams and spoken at Hotel industry events.