Your Wine List Is A Treasure

Posted: Aug 20, 2019

One of the most effective engagement tools remaining in the restaurant industry is the wine list. However, it remains one of the most incorrectly and underutilized resources in most dining environments.

During a recent consulting activity with a prominent hospitality client we discussed the mindset, critical knowledge, and tactics which are required to sell wine effectively.

Before we got into the discussion of sales we established the need for the team to have a change of mindset.

Mindset Change

We are Leaders not Servers
Regardless of your role in the food and beverage industry (Server, Bartender, Supervisor, Manager, etc.) you need to understand that you are not a servant but a leader. I watched the faces of the team members as we introduced this new mindset. Most looked at our team in amazement as we introduced this new idea. You could see the pride in their faces grow.

Expertise in your product and service increases your influence
The more you know, the more broad and powerful your influence becomes. In other words how credible you are is directly related to how much people trust you. For those of you who like math, below is a fantastic visual from Charles H. Green founder of Trusted Advisor Associates.

T stands for trustworthiness—how much the buyer/client trusts the seller.
C stands for credibility—it speaks to words and credentials. 
R is reliability—how others perceive the consistency of our actions, and our integrity. 
I is intimacy—how secure or safe the client feels sharing with us.
S is Self-Orientation—it has a double meaning. Are we centered on the client for the client or like a vulture focusing on its prey?

Image and TCRIS Source:

Great leaders serve, poor leaders push people around.
History is fraught with leaders who pushed people around. While pushy leaders may wield power, the span and strength of their influence tends to be relatively short, focused on fear, and surrounded by chaos.

We asked our students to consider the pushing vs. pulling style of leadership. Most agreed that there was much more power and loyalty available to those leaders who pulled their followers to pursue an idea. In other words, the likelihood of getting a sale increases when your relationship with your client is stronger not through coercion.

We offer wine we don’t sell wine
The mindset of quality leadership and influence translates directly to how effective we are in presenting our wine selections to make the client interested in making a purchase. People generally accept offers. The age of the sales by intimidation or pushiness is long gone. In other words selling is pushing, offering is pulling.

The Wine List must be presented, and a tour of the contents is critical

The Tour. Your Wine List is a Treasure

What does a quality offer from the wine list look like? To answer this you have to know what the incorrect approach looks like. Here are some examples:

1. The Drop and Run
a. The host or server simply places the closed wine list by the guest and then departs.
b. The host or server simply places the open wine list by the guest and then departs.

2. The invisible wine list
a. The host or server departs with the wine list without ever presenting it to the guest.
b. The wine list is never presented.

In our Education Programs we call the wine list a secret weapon or the treasure. Like a treasure you need to present it effectively. How?
1. Create the relationship by…
a. Offering a welcome, and establishing why the guest is visiting. “Are you here celebrating a special occasion?”

2. Establish who the wine host is.
a. One of the biggest mistakes I made as a new server was to deliver the wine list to the man. I failed to check who the wine host was. This weakened my relationship and my position of influence.

3. Give the host a quick but effective tour of the list.
a. Make sure to begin to make situation appropriate offers as you tour the list.
-“Here are the sparkling and Champagne selections. Since you are celebrating your anniversary would like me to recommend a special wine for you?”
b. The tour continues:
-“These are our white selections, these are our red selections…”

4. The pre-close:
- "Would you prefer the sparkling, the white, or the red?"

5. Assisting the guest in making at choice effectively:
a. Once the guest has established which part of the list they are likely to order from…Offer a few choices from the wines they would like by underlining the selection using your index finger. Point from Bin to Price.

- Bin 101 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand $55.00
- Bin 302 Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, Napa Valley $95.00

6. Closing the deal:
Finally the time has come.
Q. Why do most sales fail to materialize?
A. People fail to ask for the order.

7. After all the work is done you must ask for the order. This is the climactic moment.
a. “May I prepare a bottle of the Bin X?”
b. “Yes? Thank you. I will prepare that for you directly.

The team at Go-Wine and the Wine Business Academy felt this information is timeless and business critical for everyone who has the goal of providing the best experience for the guest and maximize their establishment’s sales potential.

If you would like our team to assist you in the professional development of your food and beverage team please contact us at or Go-Wine.Com.

By Luis Torres CMO/CSO
Go-WineWine Business Academy
August 20, 2019

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