Knowing how to best organise your cellar to improve wine sales is essential. Sommeliers and restaurateurs need to manage their stocks efficiently in order to minimise tangible assets, improve the turnover rate of inputs/outputs, and save time when serving clients. Best-selling wines, for example, are the most often restocked, and therefore need to be easily accessible.
Wine lists are not always clear to consumers, who can sometimes feel overwhelmed when faced with a multitude of wines. Improving wine lists in terms of the choice of wines available (both by bottle and glass) is therefore often necessary. Making wine lists clearer by including an index key (e.g. colour, region, vintage, etc.) and paying attention to the presentation of the wine list itself (whether it be paper or digital format, a touch-screen tablet, etc.) is essential. All original formats are possible, but the wine list must be adapted to the type of restaurant and target market. A Michelin-starred restaurant, for example, could choose fancy-looking wine lists featuring a wide selection of wines, whereas a small and friendly wine bar might opt for engraved oak wine boards with a small selection of wines, while an upmarket bistro may decide to use touch-screen tablets.
When serving customers, waiters and sommeliers need to pay attention to how they present the wines. They must express themselves in a clear, professional manner, without acting overly formal, and know how to advise customers without coming across “tedious”. A bit like a doctor who listens attentively to his patient in order to provide a diagnosis, it is important to understand the customer’s needs and satisfy their preferences, in accordance with their food choices, budget, and ultimately your cellar stocks. Serving customers also provides the opportunity to generate additional sales, by offering various wines by the glass for the aperitif to complement their food choices. It is also important to have a basic understanding of English alongside your native language in order to communicate openly with customers.
Once the customer has made their choice, the restaurateur must serve the wine to the highest professional standards, while respecting certain basic principles: choosing the appropriate glassware, presenting the wine and label in a professional manner, serving it at the correct temperature, and decanting if necessary.
Knowing how to manage your pricing policy is essential. This involves finding the balance between the following three factors: the price that the client is prepared to pay for a particular type of wine, the price that they normally pay on average in the respective establishment, and your margin. The selection of wines and prices must always be adapted to the restaurant’s concept and target market.
Article written in conjunction with Alexandre Morin, sommelier with an extensive professional background both in France and abroad, and accredited tutor at the Bordeaux Wine School.