Mark Roberts, Director of Sales at Lanchester Wines, shares five ways to elevate your food and drink offering with wine. 

Tailor your wine list to suit your customers 

You know your customers better than anyone, so create a wine list that directly suits their specific tastes – and likewise, if something isn’t working, change it. When creating your wine menu, keep your customers front of mind and write tasting notes they’ll appreciate. Increasingly, we’re seeing operators using wine menus as their sommeliers; menus are becoming more stylistic to connect with specific foods, adapting descriptive language to suit their audience – categories or descriptions such as ‘big, bold and round, suitable for steak’ where you’d allocate Malbec, for example.

Regular staff wine training 

To cultivate knowledge while instilling confidence and credibility when discussing and recommending wines – customers, more often than not, look to the server for guidance. Training enables your staff to speak about wine with authority and assists in building trust among customers. It also ensures your team feels invested in by the business.

Customer wine tasting

Invite your customers to taste the wines with your merchant before listing. Do this when exploring new ranges and once you’ve pretty much confirmed your core list – so after your first or second consultation – it always works incredibly well to invite your top 20 customers to an exclusive tasting of the wines before you finalise your selection. Thus giving your customers a sense of ownership with the wine list. 

Introduce a wine of the month

This is a great way to easily refresh your wine offering each month while also ‘experimenting’ with different wine styles but with minimal risk as your stockholding will be low. You might even find your customers’ new favourite wine! 

Build a relationship with a trusted wine supplier

This valuable relationship can help you with all of the points above. Your wine supplier is fully trained and has oversight of both their wider portfolio, including offers and new products, and also the wine trade in your area.