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Sommelier William Rhodes

William Rhodes Wine Tips

By Jim Clarke
September 2007

1. WINE BY THE GLASS: The most important aspect of a wine list is your Wine by the Glass program or, as I like to refer to it, the Taste of the List. It is the first thing a customer reads. It is their first impression of what a wine list has to offer. It provides a quick glance of things to come from the depth of the selections to the range of vintages available, but should not overwhelm the client by the number of selections listed. It is just a glimpse!

2. SALES ASSOCIATES: They are some of the best resources for the latest wine and the current activities within the marketplace, both domestically and abroad. Always treat them with respect because they are both your eyes and ears during the times when you are trapped in the office. Plus, you never know what doors your contacts may open for you.

3. TASTE: Taste and re-taste various wines daily. It is always important to revisit the wines by the glass portion of the list to keep the section both fresh and evolving. I recommend changing this portion quarterly, just like the changes a chef makes to their menus.

4. THE CHEF: They are your best ally and harshest critic. Chefs have great palates and great working knowledge of their food and can help in pairing the correct wine for each dish. They can make your life very easy in your place of work.

5. UPDATE: Every month, after inventory, the wine list should be updated. It is essential that enough wine is ordered to last a 30-day cycle. It is a waste of office resources and time if there are too many revisions and reprints of the list.

6. WINE SEMINARS: Weekly wine seminars should be conducted for both your line-level staff and management. Seminars should be kept light yet remain informative. They should review successful selling techniques and the different tastes featured on the list. Interaction between you and your colleagues is the most important aspect of weekly seminars. Remember it is not a classroom lecture but an open discussion between co-workers.

7. TRAVEL:Traveling to the different wine regions allows you to learn more about the products and people behind them, which allows you to give your patrons more useful information.

8. CONTINUING EDUCATION: Weekly wine seminars should be conducted for both your line-level staff and management. Seminars should be kept light yet remain informative. They should review successful selling techniques and the different tastes featured on the list. Interaction between you and your colleagues is the most important aspect of weekly seminars. Remember it is not a classroom lecture but an open discussion between co-workers.

9. PARTICIPATE: It is important to continue learning about the product that governs our profession, wine. Classes offer opportunities to not only expand your knowledge but to network as well. I highly recommend courses taught by the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Society of Wine Educators.

10. READ: Keep yourself up–to–date on current events within the business. Read at least three of the various industry publications; it allows you to have a firm grasp on today’s happenings.

11.And finally, DINE: It is important to sample other restaurants’ wine programs. Dining out allows you to strike up conversations with staff and sommeliers. Listening to what others allows you to learn and sample what others have to offer.



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