How to Teach Servers to Sell Wine

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In many restaurants, a large portion of the revenue comes from wine sales. Customers who come in for the ambiance and an epicurean delight can frequently be persuaded to purchase a glass or so of their favorite vino. Because markup on wine, particularly when sold by the glass, is quite high, these wine sales can add up to some serious cash. To be optimally successful in marketing wine, your waitstaff needs to be keenly aware of the intricacies that go into the proper selling and serving of wine. If you waitstaff is knowledgeable of the rules that govern wine presentation, you will see your overall wine sales grow.

  • Give your staff information about the wines on your wine list. In order for your wait staff to be effective in selling wine, they need to be knowledgeable about the product. Customers are more likely to purchase wine from a waiter who appears to have a highly developed knowledge of the product and can give an informative description. Make sure that your wait staff can identify wines and give specifics about the regions of origin and appropriate food pairings.

  • Teach your wait staff to engage in suggestive selling. While many servers loathe the task of suggestive selling, it is a highly effective technique that can have a major impact on revenue. Teach your waiters to be polite and friendly as they make recommendations to your customers and encourage them to pair their delicious meal with a refreshing glass of house wine. Your severs will likely find that after some practice in suggestive selling the tactic proves to be helpful to them as well because it gives them the opportunity to engage the customers in conversation and can even lead to increased tips.

  • Have regular wine tastings. It is not enough to simply tell you staff about the wines available. To achieve true success in wine sales, you should have regular wine tastings during which you allow your wait staff to sample the wines that they serve to customers. A waiter who has tasted a wine will give a much more lively and comprehensive description of the product to potential customers.

  • Ensure that wine is served at the proper temperature. All wine should be kept in a storage area that is between 55 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the appropriate temperature of wine when it is served varies based on type. Whites will need to be chilled before they are served to your customers, as the proper serving temperature for some white wines is as low as 43 degrees. Conversely, reds will need to be allowed some time to warm as the ideal serving temperature for a red wine can be as high as 66 degrees.

  • Train your wait staff to properly present wine to customers. Serious wine drinkers are aware of the proper protocol of serving wine and will notice or question any missteps. The first thing a wine connoisseur will expect is a presentation of the bottle. Your wait staff should always present the bottle to the customer prior to opening it so that he may inspect the label to make sure that the correct vintage is being served and that the label doesn't show signs of excessive wear. If the label on a bottle of wine appears severely faded, dirty, or water damaged, your customers will question how the wine is kept, as these can be indicators of improper wine storage.

  • Show your waiters how to serve with style. After the presentation of the bottle, servers should always open it in front of the customer so that the customer can be sure that he is not being cheated. The server should first pour a small glass of wine and present it to the person who ordered the bottle for inspection. After this person has given his approval, the waiter should serve the wine to the rest of the table.

  • Practice the perfect pour. When pouring the wine, the server should exert extreme caution to ensure that wine is not dripped or spilled. At the end of each glass, the waiter should turn the bottle sharply in a movement known as a flourish. This not only prevents spillage, but also impresses customers and shows that your wait staff is well versed in the proper rules of wine service.

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