More Than Wine - The Real Contribution of the Sommelier

By Brian Mitchell Principal, Mitchell Performance Systems | April 21, 2013

Co-authored by Evan Mitchell, Senior Consultant, Mitchell Performance Systems

** This is the second article in a series on improving revenue and profits from F&B

People tend to defer to wine expertise. And by no means merely wine novices. On any evening, in any fine dining restaurant, anywhere in the world, you’ll find seasoned diners seeking reassurance of their wine selection through the approval of that arbiter of taste – the sommelier.

According to The Oxford Companion to Wine, the sommelier’s role is “to ensure that any wine ordered is served correctly and, ideally, to advise on the individual characteristics of every wine on the establishment’s list and on food and wine matching.” There’s more than a hint here of the popular caricature of the sommelier – an imperious figure of vast snootiness pontificating on the intricacies of wine with an air of the grandest condescension, while shamelessly picking our pocket.

A misrepresentation? Absolutely. But then the role of sommelier lends itself to much misinterpretation – and even more under-appreciation. Not having a clear fix on what the role really involves will prove immensely costly to an establishment.

There’s a vast difference between a sommelier performing to the fullness of the job, and just playing the wine expert. And the impact on revenue can be just as large. Each layer of the job brings in additional opportunities, which are there to be taken but are too often lost. So join us while we analyze the sommelier role and what it should contribute. The findings may surprise.

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