Initial Wine Presentation
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You have completed Module #1 – Wine Presentation
WelcomeAfter a warm welcome, a bright smile and direct eye contact with your guests, the opportunity for an enjoyable dining experience begins.
As beverage and food menus are handed to each diner, you should initiate personalized, relationship-building conversation consistent with your personality and/or your restaurant manager’s instructions.
“Welcome to … name of restaurant ….”; “I’m glad you decided to join us tonight.”; “Have you dined with us before?”
Even the National Restaurant Association considers “Hi, my name is…” as an overused, cliché greeting since it puts the focus on you rather than the guest. They say “Truth is most people don’t care what the server’s name is.” More meaningful dialogue helps you to connect with guests, and guests enjoy their dining experience more and feel appreciated.
While telling your customers your name is not “incorrect,” it is more important to welcome them to the restaurant and if you have a name tag prominently displayed, you can even omit telling them your name. They will ask if it is important to them.
Do you think you can engage customers in a meaningful dialog to improve their satisfaction with the dining experience?Correct
This is important because customer satisfaction leads to return visits and increased tip percentages.Incorrect
People who can engage others in meaningful conversation usually do well in service industries. If you have difficulty with this, customer service may not be the best job for you.
Recent, more extensive restaurant offerings of wine-by-the-glass have actually opened a new dimension in wine with dining.
If you think about it, an initial bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay is very UNLIKELY to pair well with ALL of the diverse food choices found at even a small table of 4 people. Guests will have ordered a range of meals, some of which might go best with a wine style other than the bottle ordered.
This presents the opportunity to pair each person’s meal with a specific, but different wine than their table companions. You can pair one wine with the appetizer or salad, for example, and another wine with the entrée.
In general at a restaurant, if the only alcoholic beverage being consumed is wine, the average consumption will be 2 glasses of wine per person or a bottle per 2 people. If dinner is not rushed, average consumption may be as much as 3 glasses per person. It will be on the higher side for men or anyone of higher body weight and it will be on the lower side if there are price, calorie, or driving concerns.
Can you see how a wine-by-the-glass menu is better able to accommodate different wine and food preferences?Correct
Food Wine versus Meditation Wine
Many times the first wine ordered at a restaurant meal is not actually meant to be a food wine. It is meant to just savor and appreciate for its quality. I call it a meditation wine. It is a wine that is in very good taste balance for that individual, on its own, without being modified by a food taste. Usually it is a more expensive wine or one that is rated highly by wine experts, but it does not have to be. It is a wine that is known to be in balance for the tastes of whoever orders it. Spirits and cocktails serve the same purpose.
A food wine almost always needs a specific type of food to bring it into taste balance for most people.
The person who orders the wine may or may not be aware that the wine will not pair well with all of the different meals that guests at the table will order. If you sense that person ordering the wine is just forcing his or her tastes on others, when that bottle nears completion is the opportunity to bring up which wines-by-the-glass will go well with individual food items the guests have ordered.
Would you guess that more people order an initial wine for relaxation (meditation) rather than because it goes best with the food they are thinking of ordering?Correct
Customer Wine Buying Preferences
Are these new customers cheapskates or big spenders, tea totalers or guzzlers, wine aficionados or wine newbies?
It can be difficult to get an idea of your customers wine buying preferences during a short initial welcoming conversation, but often there are hints in guest comments which help direct you to assisting them in a wine or other beverage selection.
“These wine prices seem high”
“Do you carry Kendall Jackson Chardonnay?”
“What’s the best wine you’ve got?”
“I’m not sure, what’s good?”
Do you think you can make assessments about a person’s wine buying style from just a few comments they might make in response to your questions?Correct
Sometimes its not possible, but try to work on it. Discuss with other wait staff to see how they assess wine buying preferences of their customers.
Which one of the following wine buying personality types might you expect to hear the question:
“Do you have any Loire Valley wines on the menu?”Correct
Your wine-special-of-the-week, is a new pink Moscato wine.
If you knew or could guess at the wine style preference of a customer, to what wine style preference would you be more likely to suggest trying the special?Correct
If there is a drinks or wine menu that is separate from the food menu, be sure to offer those to everyone at the table, not just the person who seems to be taking charge. The old rule of offering an extensive wine list only to the dominant male at the table is out of fashion. If your restaurant has a separate fine wine or wine-by-the-bottle menu that is not routinely handed out, offer to get it.
“Would anyone like to look at our more extensive wine list?”
Many times, restaurant managers encourage staff to distribute food and drink menus to the table and at the same time ask “what may I get you to drink.”
This is a mistake!
Forced to make a quick decision like this, most people will not look at all of the special choices your restaurant has available. They will end up completing their meal with less satisfaction than they could have had.
Do not rush guests into ordering beverages before they have had a chance to see all of their options.
With the food menu, would you want guests to have time to look at ALL the menu items available before ordering?Correct
Most people do not like to be rushed when making choices. This is especially true at an evening meal. At lunch, when they have limited time off from work they are more acceptive of fast, efficient service.Incorrect
Offering Someone the Wine List
Establishments with extensive fine wine lists may have a limited number of those menus available. Still, there should be enough menus available to offer to everyone at the table who appears interested.
Remember that nationally, 80% of wine sold in the United States is purchased by women. At a table mixed with men and women, more women are likely to want wine and those women are as likely, or more likely, to be knowledgeable about wine as the men at the table.
Guests may defer wine-by-the-bottle choices to whoever made the reservation or someone else who is paying the entire bill, but they will always appreciate being offered the list and are more likely to return when the bill is their responsibility.
When you eat out at a restaurant with friends who like wines, do they usually order a variety of foods that might best be paired with different wines?Correct
Be Familiar with Your Wines
It is your job to be familiar with all of the wines your establishment offers and to be able to correctly pronounce their names. Seek help from your manager or someone else if you must, but learn to pronounce those names correctly.
Can you pronounce these wine types correctly?
Pinot Grigio (pee noh GREE joe)/Pinot Gris (pee noh gree)
Sauvignon Blanc (SOH-vihn-yohn BLAHN)
Pinot Noir (PEE-noh NWAHR)
Syrah (see-RAH ) / Shiraz (cher-RAHZ)
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (mon-tae-pul-chee-AH-noh dah-BRUTE-so)
If you need help in sounding these out, see the following sources:
WineLovers Lexicon, Taster’s Guild Glossary, Written Pronunciation of Wine Names
Do you think mispronouncing a wine name makes guests think you may have LESS-THAN-OUTSTANDING wine knowledge?Correct
Taking an hour or so to learn and practice the pronunciation of all of the wines on your wine list will pay off in increased gratuities and appreciation.Incorrect
What is the best phonetic pronunciation of the tannic Italian wine, Sangiovese?Correct
What is the best phonetic for pronouncing the crisp, tangy wine, Sauvignon Blanc?Correct
Customer Wine Style Consumption Preferences
Assuming most initial wine choices are for meditation type wines rather than food wines, you may want to get a feel for what wine preferences your guests have. Its a simple question … “what type of wines do you usually prefer?”
1. Big Bold Reds – Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbecs or Red Blends with moderate alcohol content (usually 14.0% or greater).
2. Dry Tannic Reds – These wine lovers like the tannins found in many old world, European wines such as Brunello, Barolo, Bordeaux, Cote du Rhone
3. Fruity Acidic Reds – prefer fruitier, lighter bodied wines such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, Central California Merlot or Beaujolais.
4. Full Bodied Wooded Whites – Classically drink oaked Chardonnays but like Viognier also
5. Crispy Refreshing White Wines – Prefer a palate cleanser with citrus acidity such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, a dry Pinot Grigio, White Bordeaux or dry Rose
6. A Touch of Sweetness – Prefer off-dry or semi-sweet wines such as a German Riesling, a Moscato or a white Zinfandel
7. Wine Explorer – likes to try different wines, especially those less familiar, Albarino, Chenin Blanc, Mourvedre, Grenache, Brunello
8. Predominantly Beer Preference
9. Predominantly Distilled Spirit Drinker
10. Usually an Abstainer
If you were to ask:
“what types of wine do you usually drink?” or “what wine would I be likely to see at your house?”
Is it likely that the answer would help you to categorize that person’s wine style preference?Correct
Most people drink a wine at home that is in balance for their own tastes rather than to pair with food.Incorrect
If your wine style preference is for fresh, crisp acidic white wines and the customer’s preference is for big, bold red wines, what wines should you recommend to the customers?Correct
Yes. this is extremely important! The only time you would recommend wines that you like are when the customer’s wine style preference is exactly the same as your wine style preference.Incorrect
It is unlikely the customer will like the same wine you do if his/her style preference is different than yours.
Customer’s Price Range for Wine
If a customer points to a wine either on the bottle list or on the by-the-glass list when asking questions, be sure to note the price of that item. That price usually indicates the approximate amount the customer is interested in spending. Any of your recommendations should try to stay close to that amount.
Although up-selling to a higher quality, more expensive wine is not out of the question, a better choice is to recommend a wine at the same of lower price that you know to be more enjoyable. Alternatively, you could give them both a lower cost choice and a higher cost choice if you know your restaurant’s wines well enough.
If you were out dining and a wait staff suggested a way to lower your cost with the same dining enjoyment, do you think you would be more likely to give your normal tip amount or more for good service?Correct
Assuming your guests want to relax and talk briefly before eating their meal, which of the following wines would be your initial recommendations?Correct
Usually, a wine that is balanced for each customer’s personal wine style preference is the best to start out with. Following that, wines that pair with a specific food can be recommended by the bottle or individually by-the-glass.Incorrect
Wine Buying Personalities
Constellation Brands, a large wholesale liquor and wine distributor, has extensively studied customer buying personalities in both the retail and the restaurant market. They divide the market into six wine market segments:
Price driven (21%) – savvy shoppers who shop mostly by price.
Satisfied sippers (20%) -regular wine lovers with loyalty a specific brand and/or varietal.
Image seekers (18%) – want wines that are rated highly or considered classic
Wine enthusiasts/explorers (10%) – looking for hidden gems, unusual wines
Engaged newcomers (12%) – young but interested in learning more about wines
Confused (19%)-engaged newcomers who do not have fixed wine preferences yet
Do you think that restaurant customers, whom you can identify being in these different categories, will likely be more satisfied with different wine recommendations rather than the same wine for all?Correct
From which one of the following wine buying personality types, are you likely to hear the statement:
Do any of these wines have high Wine Spectator ratings?Correct
Your restaurant has a few bottles left of a highly rated, Argentine Malbec wine that is not on the regular wine menu.
If you knew or could guess at the wine style preference of a customer, to what wine style preference would you be more likely to suggest trying this off-the-menu wine?Correct
Choose the best answer for each criterion in the left column and move it into the right column opposite that criterion
- Welcome to ...name of restaurant...
- after bringing water to table
- Hi, my name is....
- at first contact with guests at table
Initial greeting statement
easier pairing with food
Which of the following would not be advised when a wait staff initially greets a new customer?Correct