Clever operators in the industry right now have realised that by being more creative they can open up the world of wine for consumers and make it a more valuable part of their business.
Many consumers simply don't engage with wine terminology, so smarter operators are using their imagination around their wine offering. Razak Helalat, at the Coalshed steak restaurant in Brighton, is one such operator. To set his new restaurant apart from the pack, he produced a truly individual wine list - the range of wines offered, how they are described and the overall look of the list - all to strengthen the restaurant's brand identity and direction.
The list explains why certain wines were chosen and wines are broken into by the glass, old world versus new world, ‘reds by country and wines for food matching. Their descriptions are a world away from the flowery language beloved of many old-fashioned wine lists, instead giving a much more dynamic impression and making the whole subject fun and engaging.
For example, a fine Burgundy is described as "the holy grail of red wine! There are not many better ways to spend an hour of your life", while an Italian Barbera is presented as "a wine which is very close to our hearts… you can tell that while making this wine, the winemaker was dreaming of eating a great chunk of aged beef."
This kind of informal, fun approach has been extremely successful; the average spend per bottle at the Coalshed is much higher than other similar outlets. The customer can see that the owner has made a huge effort with the list - and is reassured and encouraged to be bolder with their wine purchases.
John Grieveson, commercial director, Enotria