Knowledge is Power!
Every edition we ask John Mansfield of The Society of Vintners what’s happening in the world of wine. This issue, his focus is wine education.
2018 is going to be a challenging year for wine as exchange rates and reduced 2017 harvests mean an increase in price. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as all the evidence suggests that customers are willing to pay extra for a good or better wine, as long as they’re convinced it’s worth the investment.
Now most people know that much ofthe cost of a bottle of wine is to cover packaging, Excise Duty, VAT and other costs. But do you appreciate how spending just a little more gets you a much better wine to sell? Here’s a basic outline:
Therefore, by buying a wine at just £1 more, the value of the liquid within goes up 91 pence!
Looking at these figures, the benefits to both you and your customer of having better wines on your list are obvious. The problem is that in the industry a lot of customer facing people aren’t confident enough to talk about the wines they have on offer, which in turn stops you taking advantage of the upsell opportunity that’s out there.
What servers need to know
Eight basic skills to teach staff, according to the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET)
• How to taste and assess the quality of a wine objectively and accurately – WSET uses a trademark Systematic Approach to Tasting
• How to tell if a wine is ‘corked’ – which doesn’t mean there is cork floating in the glass!
• The basics of pairing wine with foods, considering levels of sweetness, acidity, salt, heat and umami
• The best way to store wine to ensure it stays fresh or ages gracefully
• Best temperatures to serve a wine – and best glassware for a particular type of wine
• How to use a corkscrew properly and pop sparkling wine with perfection
• What the terminology on a wine bottle label reveals about the wine inside
• The flavour profiles of popular grape varieties and regions – the tools for recommending wines that suit a customer’s personal taste
Staff can be taught some of these basics very easily, and you can help them – and your customers – by having a properly designed and informative wine list. Ask your wine suppliers to help you put it together and make sure staff understand and are familiar with it.
But that will only take you so far. To be able to confidently sell premium wines your staff need to be trained to better understand wine, know how to taste systematically and identify key flavours and characteristics. This will enable them to better describe wines to customers and confidently recommend and help customers choose a wine they will enjoy, which could be a more premium option with a higher margin. As a result, I’d strongly recommend that key members of your front of house team talk to WSET and enrol on their training courses.
What you will learn on a WSET course
WSET offers courses through Approved Programme Providers, ranging from Level 1 to Level 4.
Costs vary depending on location.
Level 1: Hands-on beginner’s courses, exploring the main styles of each category through sight, smell, and taste. Provides skills to understand key factors affecting flavours and aromas and describe them accurately. Includes sections on food pairing, storage and tips to perfect service. From £169
Levels 2 & 3: Provides knowledge from production, the main varieties of base ingredients, key regions and the role climate plays in determining flavours. Includes wide range of wines, spirits and sake, how to taste professionally, key classifications and labelling terminology. From £299 for Level 2 and £510 for Level 3.
Level 4: This diploma is WSET’s highest qualification and recognised globally as one of the most distinguished achievements in the sector. Students develop an in-depth knowledge of wines and spirits, from production, regions and styles, and of the global trade. A stepping stone to a qualification as a Master of Wine. From £2,398
Visit wsetglobal.com to learn more or to find an Approved Programme Provider near you.