Selling wines

26 April 2005
Selling wines

Once you've got your desired list in place, you need to sell it, and the key to selling wine is training - if your staff knows the list, they'll get behind it. Nothing sells a wine more easily than an enthusiastic recommendation from the staff.

Ask your wine supplier for regular in-house training, or if they're not up to it then contact an independent wine educator (try the Association of Wine Educators http:// or sign up for a course at The Wine & Spirit Education Trust" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">](">http://[]( which organises a network of wine courses around the country. If all else fails, try a distance learning pack from the Academy of Food & Wine Service http://[

Tips on putting together a wine list:

Make sure your wine list is easy to read

Provide reassuring information, which makes it easier for customers to experiment

Consider wine promotions, or a wine of the month programme - it encourages greater spend by offering a good price on a fairly expensive bottle; it offers the customer something new and different.

Hold a wine dinner - it will fill the restaurant on a quiet night (and rooms, if you have them) and more importantly offer an opportunity for some valuable PR. Suppliers like it because their wines get exposure, and diners like it because they often get a discount on the wines they've tasted.

Offer a decent selection of wines by the glass: it will increase sales and get you noticed by the critics. Install a wine preservation system, which can keep your wine fresh from up to 21 days after opening.

Here are a few examples:

The chain restaurant
Name: Café Rouge
List: 30 wines
What makes it special? Café Rouge has made a deliberate move away from branded wines, and is trying to educate its customers in the process. Many of the wines are sourced directly and it even blends its own house wines. Training is also paramount. Split into Whites & Roses; Reds, Sparkling Wines, Beers and Ciders.

The gastro pub Name: The Greyhound, Battersea High Street, London
List: 500 wines
What makes it so special? Where to start? Owner and ex-sommelier Mark van der Goot divides the list into Regular and Rare and splits each section into different grape varieties. He operates a modest mark-up and practically gives the posh stuff away with a flat £20 cash mark-up. He offers 20 wines by the glass.

The hotel chain Name: Alias Hotels
List: 60
What makes it so special? Uses a second local supplier for each hotel to add interest and has forged links with local wine education colleges for a monthly food and wine matching supper club. The list (with 12 by the glass and 50cl pitcher) is split into nine style sections, for example "White wines with more weight".

The smart independent restaurant Name: Amaya, Knightsbridge, London
List: 75 wines
What makes it so special? It's an Indian restaurant for starters. The wines are brilliantly selected (by a wine consultant) for their compatibility with the food. The list is organised by flavour, with categories such as exotic, aromatic and fruit-driven, with 28 wines offered by the glass.

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