56 – How to build a profitable wine program in your Restaurant

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We look at the role that wine plays in a restaurant as a part of the experience that you are creating for your customers.

What is the process that you should use in building a wine list? How does that reflect on the customers that you are looking to attract to your restaurant and what the menu is like?

How can you use dynamic content on the wine list to increase the number of times that a customer will return to your restaurant?

The linkage between wineries and restaurants are increasing to get closer as wineries look for wide distribution channels and restaurants look for ways that they can create new experiences for their customers. Partnering with a local winery can give you access to the wine makers and enable you to create bespoke dinner events like paired degustation menus, which are perfect for the quieter nights of the week to drive higher revenue.

Should you be dealing with a wine rep (representative) or direct from the winery?  What are the benefits of dealing with a wine rep?

As a chef who doesn’t know a lot about wine, how can you take your first steps in creating your own wine list? There are a lot of resources available to help you skill up yourself and your team around your wines.

What are the important things to train your FOH (front of house) team up on when dealing with customers about wine?

How do you price your bottles of wine? This is a big question a lot of restaurants struggle with. We look at some of the factors that you need to think about when coming up with the price you should charge for your wine.

How often should you turn over your wine inventory? Some wine programs have significant investments, so getting the wine mix right and being able to turn it over quickly is key to running a successful wine program.

Lastly, we look at some of the mistakes that people make when putting a wine program together.

Have a look at Chris’ book, This is not a Wine Guide.


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Podcast transcription on Episode 56: How to build a profitable wine program in your Restaurant

 

James Eling: It’s James from Marketing for Restaurants here, and welcome to episode 56 of Secret Sauce the restaurant marketing podcast. How to create a wine list for your restaurant.

Voiceover: Some restaurants are quiet, lose money, and the owner works 70 hours a week. Other restaurants are busy, profitable, and the owners work a few hours a day. What’s the difference? They have a secret sauce. Join James from Marketing4Restaurants as he helps you come up with your recipe for restaurant success, your secret sauce.

James: Welcome back everyone. So, last week’s podcast we covered the second lot of ways that we use Facebook to help our restaurant customers find new customers and turn them into repeat customers. Today, we’re talking about wine. Now, it may seem like a big jump but I got to say that probably some of the best Facebook campaigns I have ever created I have done with the help of a glass, maybe a glass and a half of good red wine. So, today what I thought would be really good to do is to talk to a sommelier. Now, I know a lot of people don’t have a sommelier in their restaurant, and you can see that. There’ll be a couple of bottles wine on the shelf that are sitting there, there’s a lot of dust on them, and it’s not the dust in a good way where something’s been cellared with a lot of thought over the years. This is wine that just isn’t moving.

It’s a critical component of the profitability of many restaurants, and I think that there’s a lot to be said for having a good think about the beverage component of the food and beverage product mix that you have in your restaurant. So, we’ve reached out to Chris Morrison and he’s very kindly said that he would go through some of the processes that he uses as a sommelier, he’s worked in some of Australia’s best restaurants as a sommelier putting together wine lists. So, let’s collectively ask him all of the important questions about how to build a wine list for your restaurant. Hey Chris, welcome to the show. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about your background?

Chris: I started mine probably about 23 years ago, primarily in the restaurant industry. I began my life in wine as a cellar hand in early 1990s when my father sent me there as an alternative to joining the army because I was such a pain in the ass to my parents. But the career I’ve had in wine to date has involved primarily my role as a sommelier in restaurants in Sydney and London. I’ve worked global wine ambassador for Jacob’s Creek and Pernod Ricard. I also worked as the champagne ambassador for five years. My career after that, I worked with a large hospitality, group a Keystone group, as their wine director. And for six years I worked for, I was the head sommelier at Guillaume Brahimi, his restaurants were at Bennelong with the crown. And finally, the last few months since finishing with Keystone as a consultant working with the hospitality and media.

James: Excellent, so what exactly does a sommelier do then? What’s their role in a restaurant?

Chris: Today’s restaurants are very different I think from the one I started in. When I started a sommelier’s role was very different, it was much more specialised. It really was simply buying then procuring wine, and then listing it and selling it. Today though, I think with the nature of the restaurant business model and how it’s changed, and also how the size of the restaurants have increased, the groups that are now merging, and the amount of money flowing in and out of restaurant business models. The idea of managing a wine and beverage program now is at the core of what a sommelier does, and what that means is a sommelier manages not just sales aspects, it manages the marketing, it manages the communications, educational, it manages the strategic direction of wine and beverage for a restaurant and a restaurant group.

James: So, what role then do you see wine as playing in a restaurant as a part of the overall experience that is going out to restaurant? What do you see wines role being?

Chris: Yeah, that’s a good question. Because I worked in London for quite some time as a sommelier, Terrance Conran, and in a market like London where the restaurant model is matured a lot, and really largely based – up until I was working there – based on the French model, where wine was in a completely integral part of the overall offer. In Australia, it’s kind of started a bit later, I think pulling up until the early 90s when we started seeing bigger station menus where wine was showcased on menus and there was a revelation between food and wine draw. Then you started seeing wine started coming to its own, wine lists started to grow in size, the money invested into them really showcased I think that the restaurant owner and the chef owner saw wine as a really integral part of the overall delivery of the restaurant experience.

I think today what wine has become now as we sort of see the next 10, 15 years and restaurants sort of on the horizon, is why there’s now an integral part of the overall restaurant business offer. And by that, I mean it’s not just the front of house product, but I think you can’t have a successful restaurant, especially I think in metro markets like Sydney where I’m from, without having a successful wine program to partner your food program. So, the importance of wine now is really about having that difference between success and failure.

James: So, what are the steps then to construct a wine menu? You go to some restaurants and they’ll have two or three house wines, and then you’ve got other places where it’s almost like a telephone book.

Chris: Yeah.

James: What’s the thinking behind the process that you have to construct a wine list?

Chris: For me, and having sort of managed wine lists that have had 100 wines up to 1,300 wines under my care, the thing that I always look at when I think of a wine menu and building a wine list is one of the last things I think about is wine itself. What I actually look at first is what’s the chef’s food offer going to look life? What is the kind of customer that we’re looking to get through the door? What’s their budget? What’s the overall narrative between the restaurant’s brand, the menu, and the wine list, what does that stay about the venue? Is there a message that needs to be addressed? Is it natural? Is it organic? Is it heath focused, or is it country of origin? Is it French, Italian, Spanish? Does it have a foraging angle? So, Nordic? And all these things, you start to build a construct or a wireframe for a wine list before you start to populate it with wines itself.

So, before you start thinking about buying and acquiring wine, I think you need to be very clear on what your venue wants to say through its wine offer, and you can do that as powerfully if you count through food and service, but they all three of them need to work together. So, by knowing what you’re looking to put on a plate and how you’re going to serve it, the wine list, the wine menu starts it off in that.

James: And so how would you decide, like obviously if you’ve got 1,300 wines on a wine list, that’s a not insignificant investment in wine then, because you need to have every one of those in the cellar I’m thinking. What are the sort of things apart from price or the amount of money that you need to spend on that, what are the things that drive, you know, the number and the type of wines that you would have on a wine list?

Chris: I’m in the city, I think largely it’s ego. I think a lot of guys and girls and people who run wine programs are driven by a deep-seated need to impress people. I would literally probably stand up and applaud if I went into a two-Michelin star restaurant and they had 20 wines on their wine list, but they rotated them every week. You know, the kind of dynamic content I think is really the future. Big wine lists will always be around, but those kind of wine lists from a sales perspective 10% of your wines to all the heavy lifting in terms of revenue. 90% of your wines will sit there and rotate very, very slowly. But a 10% or 20% perhaps, if you’re being generous, other wines you will rotate, are the key parts of the wine list that work for you.

But yeah, I’m not sure, I mean I like the idea that a small wine list can still work. I think smaller wine lists in terms of cost of operating today, taxation, the actual amount of money you have to invest, as you said, to hold a high wine list on site. And if you don’t hold in on site, the costs of cellaring off site. There’s all these layered costs that come in at running a massive wine program, and I think it’s only if you’ve got significant capital upfront should you actually invest in building a big wine list. If you don’t, if you don’t have the capital, don’t do it on credit because that is the one thing that knocks the bricks out of the foundation of your business very early.

James: I’ve always found it amazing when because, you know, some bottles of wine can be really quite expensive, and some wine lists you just think, “There’s got to be, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in this.”

Chris: Totally, absolutely.

James: Do you see restaurants working with local wineries, how do you see that as going into the future and what are some ideas that you’ve seen that work well for engaging with local wineries?

Chris: It’s been going on for decades now, where I think you see certain wineries. In the first I remember seeing was Katsu in the early 90s was working with winers like Torbreck in Australia, a very famous Barossa winery. And were using what they would call future wine. So, their sommelier, or Katsu himself, would go down and work with the winery institute, blend the wine suited for their venue, and that wine would be bottled exclusively for them. Sometimes the pricing would be pretty advantageous, but the idea were collaborations I think are really, really important.

However, I think the idea of going to a winery and getting them to blend and make wines for you direct now, really only works in a large group and you can have economy to scale. I think what is a smaller venue, maybe one or two or three venues, what you’re looking to do is really identify what’s unique about you. Now, I think you can actually enhance that, or you can actually reinforce that by working with specific wineries, or specific brands to talk to what you’re about. So, rather than working with the winery to create some kind of wine that you think will appeal to a broad range of people, then find a way, think of partnering with wines and collaborating with wineries and wine makers who make wines that talk to your ethos, your philosophy, what you believe in, what the message of your venue is. I mean, that kind of collaboration I think has a huge impact for small venues, small groups. The large groups they should be talking direct to vineyards and big wineries who can provide thousands of litres and make signature wines.

James: So, how do you think a restaurant should be buying their wine then? Is it better to buy direct from a vineyard, or do you see a lot of them dealing direct with a wine rep?

Chris: I think that you should have a healthy mix. Working direct with wineries means your obviously going to get products that are unique, you’ll never see them potentially on a retail shelf, they’ll probably direct it per litre on premise. You can’t do that, the expense, the relationship you have with distributors because those guys and girls are there for you, more often than not, when a wine maker can’t be. They’re usually in your market, they’re usually only a phone call away, and they usually can back you up if you have an emergency around stock, supply, any kind of what you consider an emergency around wine, which happens a lot.

So, I think you need a healthy balance, I think a good part or portion of your wine program should be sourced direct from wineries. You should have those kind of collaborations, as I just said before, but I would never burn a relationship with a distributor to do that, because they’re the guys and girls, again, that’ll be there for you when you need them

James: What are the sort of value ads that a good wine distributor should be able to bring to you? Like, how is it that they can help you build a wine program?

Chris: Well, the good thing about it today, I think, is I mean I would consider myself, my age group, as the last of what you would call the legacy drinkers. So, I started on the wines my dad gave me, there was sips at dinner or with his mates at footy, and he’d say, “Try that Chris.” And I’d have it and I’d hate it. But a good way to sort of be inducted into those kind of, you know, circles of adults.

Now, you see guys getting into things differently at a higher level, because the information available and the way the market is now. And more experiential. A good distributor I think is one of the guys who can offer you, if you want to, a lot of support in terms of education and training. A lot of these distributors now are not just ex-sales guys, they’re ex-sommeliers, they’re ex-wine makers, they’re ex-wine professionals, I guess you would say. So, who’re now working with small portfolios or medium-sized portfolios, there’s very, very good wines, and it’s competitive. So, they have to know what they’re talking about.

These guys are an amazing resource, if you really want to sort of build a program or a culture in your business around education and training in particular, these are the guys that will support you. And are, and should be, used as educators themselves, because they’re some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.

James: And I think that’s a really good point because one of the big issues we see, particularly in single location restaurants, is that you’ll have a chef who is going to have minimal experience with wine. So, they’re focused on what goes on in the kitchen, the thinking about what goes on front of house it’s definitely not their strength. So, education is a really big need for them, particularly around something that’s so important like wine. What sort of education programs are available for them? Like, what could a distributor do, or where else could they get information on how to skill up around wine programs and wine in general in the restaurant?

Chris: I mean, firstly I would probably, the first step is to start to engage with your wine community. Identify who that is. So, yes there’s probably distributors, but there’s also all the sommeliers, there’s also you know independent retail or small bottle shops, or people who are sort of active in the industry in the local market. Engage that wine community, go to their events, partake in conversations, start acting connected because you can go down the road of corner market sommeliers or wine through an education trust, all very solid qualifications, all very solid curriculums. Very heavily academic I feel, and there are a lot of sensory components built into it, but I think the one thing that they don’t address is the actual human component of service.

And that human component is the real touch point between wine and the customer in the restaurant environment. That’s what’s unique about restaurants, is there is a human moment between the bottle and the person that the restaurant and the sommelier governs. I mean, that’s where you need to learn about not just wine itself, but learn about the community around wine, the people involved there. I guarantee that’s what’s going to keep you involved in wine long after you finish the bowl, because the people are what keeps the industry exciting and vibrant.

Visit wineries and regions if you can, create training programs – I believe – create training programs that reflect what your venue’s about. So, if your venue has a particular food offer, it has a particular style of service, then start to build training around that using food potentially as a template rather than something else. But build something and training I think is one of those things which it has to be lead from the front. So, if you’re a manager, a restaurant server, or a chef, upskilling for yourself can only go so far. I mean, you shouldn’t be running a wine program and a food program, you should be able to know quite enough about wine to find someone who can do that for you.

But if you can bring food and wine together, that’s a really powerful tool in a restaurant because essentially, it’s what a restaurant’s role is. And the sommeliers job is the only job in the world, I feel, where bringing food and wine together is their first and primary remit, in that way that one plus one equals three, you know what I mean. Like, food and wine together, both of them together, are better than either of them in isolation. So, learning about wine, for me, is culture, is engaging the wine community, become immersed in wines and regions, and start to build training in your venue that is specific to your venue.

James: There’s some really, really, really good points. Because it’s obviously something that you see, I go into a lot of restaurants and you just think that there’s absolutely no wine knowledge in there. Do you want to expand on, you touched on it briefly, the sort of the experience? Because obviously there’s the challenge in skilling up the staff for front of house, but then there’s also the challenge of how do you deal with customers? Because I guess there’s a whole range of customers, you know, some are going to be very knowledgeable about wine and then there’s going to be other people, you know, they want some wine but they’re not sure what it is that they want, then there’s budget. There’s all of those sort of things, what are some of the tricks that a sommelier would use in dealing with that? You know, sort of sussing out what the situation is and then working to create the best experience for a restaurant customer?

Chris: Very good question. I think this is where, like wine itself and like food, this is where you tell a good sommelier from a bad one from a customer standpoint. Which is inherently probably one of the most important part of this experience, is what’s the customer’s impression of what’s going on. And this minute, we talked about it a little bit before, but this minute where you start to engage with someone for the first time, for me when I’m out with my wife or friends and I’m one of those guys who grabs a wine list and wants to talk to a sommelier, because I love giving him a good brief. And that for me is the real key about getting the value out of a sommelier, firstly if you’re a customer, but secondly as a sommelier how to communicate with a guest. And, for me, it’s a very simple statement, if you ask the right questions you get the right answers.

James: Yup.

Chris: So, if I ask you the right questions, you know when a good sommelier’s doing their job because you start doing, as a customer, you do all the talking. Once you’re doing all the talking, the sommelier’s getting all the information they need, they should be able to process that, they know their wine offer intimately, and they’ll find the right wine offer. So, if I’m asking the right questions it will be something, the thing that people love to here most in a restaurant is, “How are you?” You know, hospitality, welcome.

Then you start probing a little bit deeper, you say, “Are you having a special occasion tonight? Are you just here for a nice quick bite to eat?” And if they sort of start giving you information, you start going, “Are you thinking about food and wine perceiving together, or do you just want to have a bite to eat, maybe a glass to match?” And they go, “Maybe a glass,” and once you get them to a point where you feel like they’re committed to drinking wine, then you just give them the question, “Would you like to sort of go on a bit of a journey with me, or do you want me to find something that’s pretty clear to your tastes?” And if they go down either one of those paths, then you have a mandate to start finding the right wine.

Because it’s not about finding the best wine, it’s about finding the right wine. So, about picking out 98-point wines out of the cellar all the time, it’s about finding the right wine for the occasion, the person, and the food they’re about to eat. So, if you can find information about those three things, why they’re there, what they want to eat, and potentially if you feel comfortable with it, how much they want to spend, then you should be able to find the right wine. And that moment, the customer feels like they’re in complete control, because they’ve done all the talking, and you’ve got all the information you need to do your job. So, that’s what a would consider a really good moment between a customer and a sommelier and how a sommelier does the job of handling people with varying tastes.

James: Excellent, yup. You’ve got all of these wines on the list. How do you sort of, like, from a revenue and profitability point of view, what are the kind of things that you’re thinking? I know this is something that a lot of people struggle with, how do you price the wine? The good thing about wine is you know what your cost is, it’s very different to a meal where, you know, sadly a lot of restaurants haven’t even costed out what’s actually on the plate. It’s a lot easier with a, because you know, “I’ve paid X amount for this bottle,” what’s the thought process then through, you know, the pricing that you’re going to go through with that?

Chris: Well, for me, it starts with three key buckets, I guess, I put the restaurant my KPIs against. Firstly, whatever the restaurant cost to build, whatever the restaurant cost to open, the modelling should indicate how many seats you need to fill per week at a certain cost to start paying back your money. Depending on what your goals are in terms of profit, and profit as we know is very different to revenue, depending on what your goals are around profit it could be simply to break even, to pay your bills to invest in the business so you can build something for long-term. It could be that you want 15% profit margin since day one. Either way, if I get a brief from an owner, a restaurant server, or a chef and they say, “I want 30%, or 70% gross profit out of my wine program.” Then that immediately starts to frame up my budget, and immediately starts to frame up my margins. So, that’s gross profit, that’s the amount of profit we sort of make out of wine to help pay to the restaurants operations and ongoing expenses.

I’d probably look at, I’d ask for a budget figure of what they’re comfortable spending per month, and that also translates back to what I have invest in the wine program ongoing. I think the idea that building revenue over time is something that I focus on, rather than trying to take quick hits, that is, by pricing wine too high. Pricing wine too high, there’s no way to unwind it. You can build up pricing over time but if you pitch it too high and your customer or market don’t respond positively, to unwind it means you’re just pulling out bricks in the platform of your business.

However, you start a business with a solid platform with intent to know that in 3, 6, 12 months you’re going to slowly wind up pricing as you get more money through the business, you can buy better wines, your team gets deeper and more upskilled, and eventually the restaurants product and value offer improves. Then the prices start to wind up. So, my goal is to build a long-term success behind wine programs, not short-term results. I think that if you’re looking at pricing in Sydney to be honest with you, it’s times four from wholesale. I know we’re not the worst market in the world, but that’s a starting point for a lot of people. When I started it was times three, but that was a long time ago and the cost of operation, which is obviously the thing that line sales help to pay, have gone through the roof over the last 5, 10 years in Australia in particular. We have a very high price labour market.

So, I think you look at the kind of pricing around wine, it should always be kind of in consistent price bands of your menu. But also, it should be accurately reflecting the operational cost behind your restaurant, as well. A bottle of wine should cost more in a fine diner than it does in a bistro, even if it’s the same wine. They shouldn’t be price comparatively, they should be differently priced. Because the bistro should cost less to operate. However, that’s operational, how much money you want to make out of your business, well people could price all their wines about $500 if they wanted to.

James: But how many people are going to pay for that? Yup.

Chris: Exactly right. This is the thing about pricing wine high, you build a market that is pretty much build on paper, built on numbers and prices. And then eventually when it comes down to trying to justify your value proposition to your guest, you do not get repeat customers. Word of mouth gets out. And eventually you end up in a shallow dive that is fatal. So, the successful wine program is looking beyond 60, 90, or even 30 days of your credit cycles. It’s actually looking one, two, three years down the track and what you want to build. Because I guarantee you if you do that, in three years’ time you’ll be looking at a wine program that’s not only doing great revenue, but it’s incredibly profitable. And I’ve seen many examples of the both sides of this fence.

James: So how often would, on average and what are the sort of factors that affect it, how often would you expect to turn over your wine stock? So, if you’ve got $100,000 worth of wine, how long would expect it to be to turn over all of that?

Chris: I don’t think you ever would and should expect to turn it all over. The idea of having a low stock holding is, in an ideal world whatever you buy in a month you sell in a month, then you buy again. So, basically you have nothing on your books. We all know that doesn’t exist, you do have to carry stock ongoing. To build a strong wine list operationally, and financially, and commercially means that you should have as minimum amount of stock on hand as possible when you close out the month. That depends a lot on business volume, on seasonality, on what’s happening with your restaurant in terms of is there a product offer coming on, is there a sales drive about to happen, are there collaborations or events?

There’s a lot of things that go into the amount of stock you carry on any given month. However, mitigating risk and reducing the amount of stock you carry is only solved to sales. And so, sales are what I, again from my standpoint being revenue, is what I drive all the time. I don’t look at the cost of like labour, operational, all things that probably drive general managers and restaurants servers out of their minds. My goal every day I turn up to work running a wine program is to build sales, and retain value. If you do that I think business performance improves immeasurably, rather than if you get into a cost cutting mode, a restriction mode, I think that’s a good way to sort of put a finger in the leak, but you’re not actually solving the problem behind profitability and revenue generation. So, driving revenue through that is important.

James: Cool. What are the tricks of the trade that you see? Like, as an expert in developing a wine program. What are the things that are kind of obvious to you, but for someone who is opening a restaurant for the first time or is going to develop a wine program for the first time, or is actually looking to revamp their wine program because it’s not really working for them. What are the kind of tricks that the seasoned hands sort of know and understand, as opposed to someone who isn’t experienced in it?

Chris: Yeah, I think, that’s a good point actually, and I think one of the ones I always start with is knowing what you like is not enough. A lot of people get into the wine side of the business and because they like wine, or they’ve had some experiences with good wine, they believe that that’s enough to build a successful wine program, and it’s not. You need to have broader experience.

I think if you’re going into a business where wine is going to be an integral part of it, is that you should have a long-term goal in mind, and you should have a plan before you start. The idea of buying wines based on impulse purchase or hubris, which happens a lot and we’re all guilty of it me included, is a shortcut to failure. What you need to be able to do is actually have a long-term plan, have a plan in place where you have a person driving it. So, i.e. a sommelier or a wine professional.

And thirdly, you need to build appropriate wine culture with your business through that plan. So, whoever comes in your business continuously driving it. You not being there as the restaurant owner or chef cannot be a reason for the foot to come off the gas. You need to have a culture that drives it. So, I think wine is hugely important in building that, and I think if you’re starting a wine program, you need to address the culture of your business primarily. But also understand that you need a professional to help you, and you need a plan that’s going to cover the first two to three years.

James: Excellent. What do you see the common mistakes that restaurants make with their wine programs?

Chris: Probably chasing zeitgeists too much. It’s quite easy to go online and build a trendy wine list, and to build a wine program that ticks all the boxes for what’s latest on social media and the influencer that you follow, and that kind of rabbit hole I think you go down is very easy to do today. Because there is so much wine around, there are so many restaurants and so many people talking. Back in the States I think I see a lot, I also think that guys are getting in to trouble quickly because they don’t understand what the value of wine is. And when I say that is basically they’re not knowing enough about the subject, I think you constantly undervalue it or overvalue it.

Like, that kind of lack of knowledge is kind of one of those things that sort of shifts the goalposts or the boundary lines, if you will, around wine. By understanding wine really in terms of how it fits the restaurant, you need someone to help you do that if you’re not skilled, you understand what it’s true value is both to the customer and most importantly to your business. So, those are the mistakes that I would see probably that most new operators make. The guys who are sort of rebooting their wine programs have gone through this cycle once before, and I guarantee most of them start to outsource or bring in professionals if they haven’t already got one.

James: And so, a wine distributor they would be an excellent place to start really wouldn’t it?

Chris: As long as you’re happy to hand over a great portion of your wine list. Because they will usually expect some kind of compensation, and it won’t be taking them out to dinner in your restaurant, it’ll be, “Okay, well I will very, very happy to help you, but 50 per cent of your wine list is mine.”

James: Yup.

Chris: And if you’re comfortable with that, then they are absolutely a fantastic resource. If you have a wine program that you don’t want to be pinned down to a particular distributor, then it’s probably not such a good relationship to get into.

James: Excellent. Well, thank you very much. So, you’ve just got a new book out. Do you want to just tell everyone a little bit about the book?

Chris: I have, Mate. Thank you for allowing me this plug. It’s called This is not a Wine Guide, it was released by Murdoch Books first of August this year. And it’s a really straight from the sommelier’s mouth take on how to create a great experience around wine, both in your home and also in your favourite wine bars and restaurants.

The book kind of was meant for not just, kind of my friends around the dining room table who were intelligent, reasonably well-versed in food and wine, but you know they weren’t buying cheap and they wouldn’t like to be talked down to by the people at the top of the tree in terms of wine. But they were getting into wine through food and restaurants and wine bars. So, they used social ritual, and there wasn’t a handbook for them. Everything was kind of scores, medals, and points-related. And in restaurants and food, that means nothing really. They have no relation, because none of those wines whose awards are being judged with food. And the book I think also helps the new wine professional, or the new hospitality professional where wine is just starting to become part of their world and they’re not quite sure where to start. So, that’s also a kind of a handbook for them, as well.

James: Excellent. Well, thank you very much, Chris. We’ve covered a lot of very interesting information about, that’s hopefully going to help a few people to put together a more coherent and therefore profitable wine program.

Chris: Thanks, mate, great to be with you.

James: Wow, that was pretty exciting. I think there’s a lot there that you can sort of pull out of that conversation with Chris. From my point of view, I think the really big thing that you need to do is to try and imbed a culture of wine into your restaurant. If you’re going down the wine path, you want to get everyone across it, get everyone in on the tastings.

Get them educated up so that you can then use that knowledge that they’ve got to then educate your customers. From my point of view, I’m one of those people who always likes to leverage the knowledge of the front of house team, or the sommelier in the choice of wine. I’m always looking for something a little bit knew, because you don’t know what you’re missing out on if you’re always going to be having the same wines over and over again. You’re missing out on part of the excitement of finding something new and exciting, you know, a new food pairing or a new type of wine that you haven’t tried before.

So, I think that’s where the really big opportunity is, and when you couple the two components there – so, something new along with a little bit of education – you can really create an experience that’s going to be a lot more valuable for you customers than just straight up, “Yeah, would you like a bottle of red with that?” So, there you have it. Hopefully you’re going to have a busy night serving up lots of bottles of wine. That’s it, we’ll talk to you next week. Bye.

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