- Posted by CorkNoob
While reading an article posted on Nation’s Restaurant News by David Flaherty, Marketing Director at the Washington State Wine Commission, about how to read guests and adapt to their needs, I flashed back to every time I’ve ever broken out into cold sweats while ordering wine in a restaurant. I appreciate the knowledge that a Sommelier brings to the table, but I often feel intimidated because I don’t know all the wine lingo used by experienced wine professionals. They may say something seemingly harmless like, “This wine has a mild oakiness and a soft tannin finish.” I’m sorry, but you lost me at oakiness.
On the flip side, I can absolutely understand that after years of studying to become a Sommelier and experiencing wine all over the world, a wine professional would want nothing more than to communicate their knowledge and share their passion for wine, but, as Flaherty states, “Being able to quickly read guests, adapt to their needs and enhance their experience by making wine approachable takes years to master, but it’s essential in creating repeat guests and ensuring robust sales.”
I started to wonder what other guests experience with regard to wine service and found some interesting information on Wine Spectator. The polls below really help to explain, on average, how a guest feels about their experience with wine at a restaurant.
How Good is a Restaurant’s Wine Service Today?
51% of all those that voted in the poll rated their wine service as fair, 31% voted the service was good, 16% said poor and only 2% said excellent. There is always going to be a percentage of guests that have a strange occurrence: the restaurant was overbooked and service was slower than usual, a drop of wine accidentally spilled on their white button down, etc. But we would be interested to see if there is any consistency in the reasons why most guests voted their service “fair”. Could a better, more simplistic communication method improve these numbers?
How would you rate the advice you receive from most sommeliers today?
In this poll, 65% of people who participated stated that the advice from Sommeliers was “Excellent” or “Good” while 31% rated their advice as “Fair”. Based on these results, it’s obvious that guests do value the advice of a Sommelier, but with nearly one out of 3 people reporting a fair experience, let’s consider ways to move that group into a more favorable category.
Sommeliers: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em Be?
From this poll we see that a majority of the guests who voted would like a Sommelier available for assistance, especially with larger groups. There will always be a percentage of your guests that would simply like to choose for themselves. For that group, how can you control the wine conversation without being at the table?
Should the Sommelier Taste Your Wine?
I’ll be honest, we just added this one in for fun. It is surprising, though that 65% of guests do not want the sommelier tasting their wine. I suppose that is something you can do in the cellar after a long day of work!
These polls demonstrate that there is a need to reach each guest on a personal level in a way that is comfortable for the guest. Savvy sommeliers alter how they communicate with guests based on their read of the table. But, what about guests who would prefer to go it alone?
Digital wine menus provide the ability for guests to select wines from a list that has been personally infused with the Sommelier’s suggestions, wine pairings and other insightful wine knowledge. They are also straightforward, so that guests can easily navigate to a specific taste profile, wine varietal or region of interest. It is surprising how often an iPad-based wine menu will nudge guests to upsell themselves by simply providing some information about the wine.
To make 100% of your wine guests happy today, it’s important to incorporate a mix of a Sommelier’s personalized table service with some strategic technology. Appeal to all of your guests; novice to connoisseur, timid to confident and everything in between.
Find out more about how digital wine lists work at CorkGuru.com.