Wine has been around us from as early as 6500 BC. Prehistoric people were preparing wine and enjoying it all along.
However with the advancement of technology and distribution, we have a wide variety of wine available from around the world.
Wine when paired with food can improve and enhance the meal experience. Improving wine sales in your hotel also helps to improve the revenue and profit.
But the question is, are you selling enough wines in your hotel? This article breaks the mystique behind the wine and can help you train your team to sell more wine.
As with any sale, we can break the wine sale into the 4 P – People, Product, Process and Price.
In this article, we will break this down and see how you can influence wine sale using these parameters rather than the traditional way of only learning about the wine and its characteristics.
When you look at your restaurant staffing, as yourself who the one person responsible for the wine sales in your hotel.
Throughout history, the role of promoting wine sales and ensuring appropriate wine service has often been the job of the Sommelier. This persons was also responsible for stocking and maintaining the provisions.
If your restaurant cannot afford to hire a full time Sommelier, the role of Sommelier can be undertaken by a full-time staff member whose focus is solely on the wine,.
If you cannot afford the luxury of a full time person divide the duty between between the manager, service staff and bar staff.
However you must have a person or a group of people responsible for the sale and other
In these operations, the role of selling wine sales falls on the servers, managers, and bartenders. All staff must be trained to discuss and sell wine with the guests and should be comfortable doing so in order to fully support the wine program.
Train your staff so that they are comfortable selling wines.
As with any other training, the best training are the ones done daily just before service so that the information is retained and can be used to capture sales that day.
A good time to do training on wine is along with the food tasting if you have that in your restaurant. That will help you to discuss the wine, and its characteristics and help discuss potential food pairing that can help with the sale
Many wine producers and distributors are always willing to conduct classes for their wine since it benefits them as well. Get them involved in the process to help you train your team.
Training during the standup meeting is a good idea since most of the team members are present there.
One wine should be discussed and the USP should be shared. The cost of training should include the cost of wine used for training purpose.
As with any training, establish a KPI which measures the return on investment on a daily basis. Simply calculate how much you spent on opening a bottle for training and how much revenue you generated on wine sales that day.
Topics for training can include:
- What wine is and how it is made
- A specific winery or wine region from a featured wine
- How to evaluate a guests needs and aid in selection
- How to sell wine effectively
- Unique points ( USP) of the bottle being discussed. Origin story, or the story about the grape etc.
Knowing the history of the wine can help in engaging with the guest in a better manner.
Another way of engaging with the team is to ask the team to research a wine completely and present it in the meeting. That way they are also engaged in the process of learning and teaching others.
With the increase in wines around the world, the wine list can be a daunting place. A quick survey of any distributor will show you a list of around 3000 label from around the world.
However unless you have a dedicated person who can help your team and guest select from the list, start in a small way.
While you do not want to offer guest a menu that looks like a novel, you must also avoid a one page menu without choices.
So how do you choose wines to put on the list?
What is your restaurant brand value.
Casual, Family oriented or speciality restaurant?
When you select your wines use your brand value to determine the list. Should you have something exclusive or an everyday drink that you can sell by the glass or bottle.
Once you have this down, the list will automatically shrink down to a manageable number.
If you have a restaurant theme, like Greek or Italian select wines from only that region. These days almost all countries have wine production making it easy to find some local wine.
This is the buying price of the wine. What range do you wish to buy wines in. This consideration is also important in the final price setting step.
You will have to consider the sweet spot between ego list and having a list that your guest can afford.
Tips for designing a wine list
Keep the list simple. Organize it consistently.
For example, by country or grape variety or from light bodied to full wine.
Pick a style and follow it. However do not sort by price. That shows that there is no thought given to the list.
Offer variety to appeal to a broad range of customers
Try and see if the wine will pair with food on your menu.
Selling wine is not a coincidence. Being prepared by training and selection is the beginning. However the process of selling begins way before the guest even steps into the restaurant.
Start Selling Early
Signboard/ Kiosk or a Wine menu outside the door of the restaurant, sets the stage for the potential sale.
By letting the guest know that you serve wines along with food, you prime them to make a purchase.
Why should the guest buy the wine from you at inflated pricing. The answer has to be the experience and the value provided.
Value for money can mean different things to different people but at the basic level, it is about being able to provide knowledgeable and attentive service. By having glassware ready and being able to pour wine without break in their conversation you can provide value in itself.
On Premise display
You can enhance the connection to wine by having prominent display of wines in your restaurant.
You can choose the display at the entrance of the restaurant, on the table, by having big dummy bottles or by having tent cards or signboards.
Highlight the featured wines in the restaurant.
On the Table
Once the guest is seated, the wine selling can begin. As mentioned earlier, a featured wine bottle on the table can convey your intentions about wine sale.
Once your server talks about the wine on the table, present the wine list as well.
Another way to improve wine sales in your hotel is to have a wine glass on the table as part of the table setup . That way if the wine is sold, the server does not need to bring a glass to the table.
If they order wine by the glass, just bring the bottle and pour the wine in the glass.
This brings us back to training the team to sell . Help them to understand the selling points.
As part of the briefing, the servers should be trained on food and wine pairing.
Some quick tips on wine and food pairing is listed below:
- Chardonnay : Clams, Crab, Seafood, chicken, turkey, pork, shrimp, shark, poultry, veal, lobster, swordfish, salmon, cream sauces
- Sauvignon Blanc : Cheese Shellfish, chicken, proscuitto, salads, and goat
- Pinot Grigio: Shellfish, chicken, vinaigrettes, citrus, fresh tomato
- Chenin Blanc: White fish, light sauces, light curry, fresh fruit
- Riesling: Appetizers, baked ham, smoked fish, creamy desserts
- Gewurztraminer: Proscuitto & melon, salsa, soy sauce, ginger
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Lamb, pasta, roast pork, grilled meats, garlic, mustard, grilled beef, venison, peppercorn, nuts, sharp Cheeses
- Merlot: Veal, duck, grilled meats, roast pork, tuna, salmon
- Pinot Noir: Grilled tuna & salmon, chicken, quail, mushrooms
- Zinfandel: Pasta, pizza, ribs, grilled meats, roast chicken, cheese
- Beaujolais: Baked ham, roast turkey, fajitas
- Chianti: Grilled lamb, venison, tomato sauces, cheeses
- Syrah: Ribs, poultry, grilled fish, veal, hamburgers, rabbit
Some restaurants who have luxury of space may have a dedicated table inside the wine room. This acts as a premium place to educate and sell wines to guests. Being prepared with a knowledgeable person handling the wine sales is important in creating a premium feel for the space
An important consideration for wine sales is the pricing.
Typically hotels and restaurants are expensive than the retail store, because of the cost of training and to calculate margins for storage and training.
However how much mark up you wish to have is something that each hotel will need to decide.
The best part however is that with almost all wine sales, it is usually impulse buying and hence very difficult to benchmark with the competition.
Rule of thumb states that you have better margin on a cheaper wine and lesser margin for more expensive wine.
For e.g a wine that has a landed cost of Rs. 600 can be sold for Rs. 2500 ( 24% beverage cost) while a wines which cost you Rs. 4000 may be usually sold at a higher beverage cost.
This is done to keep the wine affordable and keep the inventory moving or else it will create dead stock.
It is much better to have inventory turn than to keep the inventory with you in your store.
Improving Wine sales in your hotel can help you and your restaurant generate good revenue and elevate the dining experience of the guest.
In order to focus on providing a great guest experience, you must focus on the 4 P : People, Process, Product and Price.
Now armed with the knowledge, go sell some wine in your restaurant.
And if you are interested in training your team, do check out our training plans for hotels