Increase Your Bottom Line with Wine Education
By Fernando Salazar Vice President, Food & Beverage, Wyndham Hotel Group | July 29, 2012
I recently returned from Rioja, Spain, where I spent eight days touring Rioja's wine country, tasting over 200 wines at 14 different wineries and local restaurants. One of the wineries visited was Dinastía Vivanco, a modern facility which produces solid, well-structured wines with high acidity and enough fruit to match it.
But as much as I enjoyed the wines and the excellent lunch at the winery's sleek restaurant with a view of the Sierra Cantabria, I was mesmerized by the world-class Museo de la Cultura del Vino, a wine museum housed in a building adjacent to the winery. I could have stayed there for three days straight and be happy exploring and learning about the Rioja region and wine in general. Now, I am not a wine neophyte, nor was anyone in the group visiting the museum, a group that included sommeliers from some of the top restaurants in the United States; but we were all like kids in a candy store, absorbing every morsel of knowledge that could be gathered about wine in the short two hours we had to visit the museum.
The visit to the Museo de la Cultura del Vino at Dinastía Vivanco highlighted the importance of knowledge that we, as professionals in the food and beverage industry, should continue to garner so that we can impart education - in this case, wine education - to our staff members in restaurants and hotels around the world.
While walking throughout the three floors of wine exhibits at the museum, I commented to someone in the group about the noticeable lack of wine knowledge amongst the servers in restaurants. Such absence of knowledge diminishes the overall guest experience and the overall average restaurant check, resulting in lost opportunities to increase revenue and profits for the restaurant and tips for those very same servers.
I told him about a time I checked into a hotel in Tulsa, Okla., on an early evening back in October of 1990. After arriving in my room, I called Room Service to order dinner and a glass of wine. As I ordered, I asked the person taking the order which red wines they had by the glass. "We have a Merlot and a Carbonated Sauvignon," he answered.
Yes, you are reading that right, it is not a typo. Not only had he butchered the pronunciation, but apparently the Cabernet Sauvignon they had by the glass was carbonated!! I ordered the "carbonated" Sauvignon and, after hanging up, I chuckled but was also sad about the lack of basic knowledge about wine. At the same time, I had the sobering realization that I had a daunting task in front of me. You see, that hotel was where I had just been given my first appointment as a Director of Food and Beverage. I knew then that I had to get busy training the staff.