A Primer to Creating a Better Wine Program (Part III of III) – Wine Ordering

wine ordering - brett magnan

In part I of this series, we talked about creating a wine list. Part II was about wine pairings. In Part III, we’ll talk about wine ordering.

New to the wine world? Feel a bit intimidated by the Sommelier, foreign wine list or “wine snob” friend you are dining with? Don’t worry. There are ways to navigate the wine list to select a wine that you will enjoy and that will allow you to gain confidence and the esteem of others around you.

Wine is an essential part of the dining experience. A bad wine will ruin your meal and leave you with a poor lasting impression of the restaurant. Get a wine that will leave you wanting more – both of the wine and of the restaurant experience.

1. Ask questions.

No one can truly know every wine that could be on a given list. The best source of information is the server and/or Sommelier. “I’m having lamb for dinner tonight. Which wine do you suggest I have that would compliment my meal?” This gives you an opportunity to have a knowledgeable server give you his or her suggestions on wine. Take their suggestion and give it a try.

2. Ask for a taste of a new wine before you order a full glass.

Often, quality restaurants will happily accommodate your request as they want you to have a good experience as well.

3. Just because a wine is expensive doesn’t mean you will like it more.

Entry-priced wines can be exceptional buys. Vino de la Cassa (house wine) can be a great choice and often times pre-paired by the chef to compliment their food.

4. Not sure how to start? Order a glass of Prosecco.

It is refreshing, and it won’t affect your palette for later wines.

5. Try something new.

Don’t know anything about a wine or varietal? Choose that one and keep an inventory of wine likes and dislikes. Take a picture of the label for those wines you particularly enjoyed to order again.

6. Wine pairings with food is sometimes complicated. However, with a little practice, you can select a good wine every time.

The simplest rule is that the lighter the food, the lighter the wine – in flavors, not color. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir both can go with a fish dish and light to no sauce, but a buttery Chardonnay or Syrah might be a better choice with a caramelized bacon cheese burger … for example. In the end – you will have to decide. (I personally like Cabernet Sauvignon with my Cheerios!)

If you work in the hospitality industry, no matter what position, becoming more educated on wine and the wine’s that your property offers is important. It’s all part of the bigger picture of giving a better guest service experience at every opportunity. When someone asks where they should eat, wouldn’t it be terrific if your slot attendant could say, “I love the calamari at our restaurant, and try some Prosecco with it too for something different!” You wanna’ bet guests will remember this kind of personal recommendation?

From your burger joints to your fine dining establishment, there are key ways that your servers can leave your guests with a “wow, I’ve never experienced that before” feeling.

To find out more about “wow” service for your F&B teams, including how to up-sell as well as creating SOPs to set your team up for success, contact Amy Hergenrother. She can provide you more information on our full scope of F&B and Hospitality training and audit programs.

Brett L. Magnan