It is often said that a wine lover is a restaurant's best friend, but it does not seem that too many restaurants in Jamaica believe that statement. Beverage sales make up the bulk of the profit margins and a well executed wine programme will make a major contribution to the bottom line. While wine appreciation is growing in Jamaica, wine lovers still have to look hard if they want to enjoy a really great wine experience.
This evening, the Jamaica Observer will present the 14th staging of its fabulous annual Food Awards. The committee has over the past four years, recognised the hard work of a few restaurateurs who understand the importance of having a great wine list and wine experience in their establishments.
The nominees are:
The restaurants that made the cut in the category best wine list are: Cafe DaVinci Restaurant, Kingston; Mystic India, Montego Bay; Red Bones Blues Café, Kingston; Toscannini Restaurant, Ocho Rios.
Restaurants that are in major hotels fall in their own category. The nominees for best wine experience in a hotel include: Mangoes Restaurant, Ritz Carlton, Montego Bay; Sugarmill, Halfmoon, Montego Bay; Le Papillon, Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios; Alexandria's - The Courtleigh Hotel & Suites, Kingston; Terra Nova - The Regency Room, Kingston.
A Good Wine List
A good wine list should have a wide selection of wines that complement the menu at a range of prices along with appropriate information that will allow the restaurant's guests to easily make a choice. Format and presentation are important; this speaks to looks, layout and how easy it is to find something on the list.
Wine Price and the customers' perception of value for money - is becoming a key factor - most hotels, especially a number of the all-inclusive resorts, are reducing the markup on wines in order to increase on-premise sales. This is proving to be very successful so far.
Really great stemware makes a big different to the wine lover. While most of us can drink wine from anything, major enjoyment comes from using really fine stemware which helps the process of sight, smell, sipping and savouring fine wines. It is acceptable to use a lesser glass, not the stubby, for the house wines; however, when one of the world's top wines is being served, clients should it in the best stemware. Restaurants without decent stemware cannot win this category.
Red wines tend to be served too hot, and white wines are served too cold. This is an international issue in wine service also experienced in Jamaica. All the locations that survived the eliminations fully understand the ideal serving temperatures for wine, and equally important, the storage temperatures and conditions.
Finally and perhaps the most challenging is the issue of staffing, does the property have anyone working on the floor that has any wine knowledge? I am talking about a person or persons in the dining area who will assist the guest in making a selection from the wine list. This could be the make or break component for this Jamaica Observer Food Awards.
See you at the Food Awards later at Devon House.
Chris Reckord - Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on twitter: @DeVineWines @Reckord