Go online and learn about the wine varietals you sell. Be able to describe the varietal in general terms and properly categorize it as dry, sweet, semi-sweet or semi-dry. Learn about the residual sugar in the wines that are typically described in that manner (Rieslings for example). WineFolly.com has some great infographics – posters with images that contain great information on wines that can be used as a reference and training tool. I have several for my own office. One even has sample description for various types of wine.
Have a training day with your servers and your chef. Have the chef make some of your most popular menu items and try the wines with each dish so you can experience what happens with the wine flavors with various foods and flavors. The best description is one from personal experience. WineFolly even has two infographics on the basics of wine and food pairings. Making wine-food pairing suggestions will increase your ticket totals and your tips.
Learn interesting facts about the wineries of geography of the wine’s origin. Telling a story helps you engage the customer as well as demonstrates your expertise as a professional server. Now, let’s look at what you can do with your customers to bring your client’s experience to a whole new level.
- Be sure to point out the wine list and direct the guests’ attention to a few target items.
- Identify guests who want to share, are having a romantic evening or are celebrating. These are great opportunities to sell a bottle of wine or champagne.
- Know your wine list so you can respond to objections and offer alternatives.
- Serve wine immediately after taking the order. Delay can lead to buyer’s remorse and canceled orders.
- If guests are hesitant about splurging for a bottle of wine, suggest wine by the glass. If they are ordering more than one glass of the same wine, let them know the value of purchasing a bottle.
- Always compliment the guest’s wine selection. Make them feel special, especially when many guests are intimidated about selecting wines.
- Don’t ask, “would you like another bottle?” Instead, “would you like to continue with the ______ (wine name).
Pace your wine pour so the first bottle is finished at the end of appetizers and they want a second to accompany the meal.