Wine training for staff leads to increased profits
at the Wine RackThursday, November 12, 2015
With Christopher Reckord
I have been involved in sales and marketing for about 30 years. In almost every industry that I interact with, the professionals all say that they are selling to more knowledgeable buyers than ever before. In the IT industry, for example, when a potential client comes calling, you can be sure that they have already done their homework on your organisation, your products and services, and they are much further along the buying cycle than most sales persons are prepared for. The exact same thing is happening in the hospitality industry, but unfortunately most of the industry leaders don't seem to have a solid plan.
Research conducted in the USA a few years ago shows that American sommeliers are serving the most wine-savvy generation of diners in the history of that country. When it comes to wine, the younger "Generation X" wine drinkers consume more, know more, spend more, and enjoy a broader international selection of wines, on average, than any generation before them. These diners expect the wait staff to be able to rattle off all the vital details of wines by the glass; provide accurate information about all the grape varietals, growing regions, and producers; and unfortunately when they travel to Jamaica, most are very disappointed with the wine service on the island. Wine consumption in Jamaica has been growing, and most serious Jamaican wine lovers do know more about the wines than the wait staff at the restaurants that they visit.
A big challenge is that most of our wait staff don't drink wine at all. The other challenge is that wine training for wait staff is not a priority. For most, they believe that the basic "free" training that their wine distributor offers them is adequate. Far from it. Most of this 'training' consists of nothing but product promotion.
The path to success for any wine programme is through thoughtful, dedicated, and focused staff training. Now I am not talking about the type of training where the servers are given a list of descriptors for wine flavours without first giving them the rationale behind those words.
I believe any wait staff who will be serving wine should undergo a mandatory entry-level wine class that covers the basics of how wine is made, viticultural and vinification, the techniques for properly opening and serving a bottle of wine, serving temperature, aeration, and stemware selection.
Wine programme development across the island is work in progress. I recently sat in a training session that wine importer Select Brands afforded The Terra Nova All Suite Hotel. While it was mainly focused on brands that they represent and helping the staff to understand their differences and similarities, Master of Wine Mark de Vere from the Constellation Academy of Wine did dive into the details of how the region where the grapes are grown affect how the wine tastes. This side-by-side tasting in association with the passionate presentation from de Vere did spark some interest and a desire for more learning from a few of the attendees, but training like this needs to be sustained.
The more staff members you can infect with curiosity and a love for wine, the more success you will have with your wine programme.
Christopher Reckord - Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Instagram: @chrisreckord Twitter: @Reckord