- Posted by Danielle Gillespie
In our offices last week, we were enjoying some wine that a client dropped off (I mean, it would’ve been rude not to drink it, right?) and talking shop. The conversation turned to our experiences, or lack thereof, with sommeliers and wine directors. Personally, I have tremendous respect for those professionals that carefully craft their perfect wine list, each collection a masterpiece. And, the list doesn’t have to be lengthy; in fact, some of the best lists are those that are fewer than 75 bottles where each selection was a purposeful choice. I truly love going to restaurants where the wine director and the staff has been trained in the art of letting the wine sell itself through customer engagement. After all, wine is inherently about stories: where it came from, how the winemaker got started, the challenges, the glories. When done right, wine-making is about taking pride in one’s craft and sharing the result with all willing participants.
So, we ask the question: how can we help free more wine stories? Obviously, a wine director is the gateway to the stories but, what we learned through a survey of 1000 people across the US was startling. More than 70% of people in the United States are very unlikely to ask for a sommelier or wine director. Crazy! People obviously do not know what they are missing.
Sadly, many people do not ask for help because they are uncomfortable. They feel that they would be wasting the wine director’s time because they do not know much about wine. I say rubbish to that! The best way to learn is by interacting with trained professionals who have a passion for their trade. People are also often hesitant because they feel that by asking for help, they need to be prepared to bring a suitcase full of money to the table to pay for their choice. I say double-rubbish. Some of the best bottles of wine we have had were recommended by a sommelier and were very affordable. In fact, by talking to a wine professional, guests are actually MORE LIKELY to get a good deal and a great value.
So for the timid wine drinker and for those occasions when a wine director cannot be on-site, why not use an interactive wine menu as a tool to showcase your wine list masterpiece? It is a great way for a wine director to tell the story he/she wants heard including anecdotes, vineyard descriptions, awesome pairings or whatever else floats your boat.
And naturally, once a great wine starts flowing, so do the great stories of the lucky guests sitting at the table! So, what’s your story?