2016 Wine Resolutions

Laurie Forster

Every New Year we make resolutions—to lose weight, find work-life balance or maybe to expand our business. Given this fresh start it might be time to set some “Wine Resolutions” for your restaurant or hospitality business.

Here are a few you might consider adding to your list for 2016 for a more interesting and profitable wine program.

1. If you can’t pronounce it, you should try drinking it!

Venture into unfamiliar territory by adding new grape varieties to your wine list. Hundreds exist, and many times, the lesser known grape varieties provide the best bargains. Most wine distributors will be thrilled to show you some of the more interesting selections from their portfolio.

For example if many of your guests love a full bodied Chardonnay with intense tropical fruit flavors then try adding Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAY) to your wine list. This fuller bodied white is known for its exotic fruit flavors of mango, kiwi and tangerine along with floral notes of orange blossom and honey. Great Viognier is being made in many places including Virginia, California and of course the Northern Rhone Valley in France.

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2. Train your staff to delight your guests

If you really want to sell more wine you need to have a staff that knows your wine list and proper wine service. They don’t all need to be mini sommeliers but they should have the basics of wine service and the ability to help the guest pair wines with your menu. Wine training should be done on a consistent basis so that the staff can reinforce what they learn throughout the year. When new staff members join there should be a basic course for them to review. Regular testing and sales incentives can be integral parts of a successful wine program.

3. Give your guests a break

Consider taking a traditionally slow night into a more profitable one by offering wine promotions. Maybe half priced bottles of wine on Mondays, Wine Wednesdays or a list of specially priced wine that changes each month. You can work with your distributor to find wines that are a great value that you can offer at an attractive price by the bottle and the glass. Studies show that Millennial wine lovers enjoy drinking wine by the glass not only because of the cost but for variety.  To attract these younger more adventurous sippers, be sure to give them a selection of wines by the glass and several pour sizes.

4. Let your guests travel by glass

For great value wines explore bottles from lesser-known regions. For example, Italian wine fans might balk at the price of the legendary Barolos from the Piedmont region.  Instead, offer a Gattinara, which is found in a more northern section of Piedmont but uses the same trademark grape of Barolo—Nebbiolo. In addition, many Barolo producers also create a Nebbiolo wine with their second tier grapes that is less expensive but still delicious.

Don’t forget to explore wine regions right under your nose! New York State is one of the top wine producing states in the nation with over 400 wineries. Consider adding a dry or off dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes to your list to delight your local and out of town guests.

No matter what wine resolutions you make this year, I hope that tasting more wine is one of them. Let’s all raise a glass to a profitable and delicious 2016!!


Laurie Forster
Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach, is a certified sommelier, award-winning author and media personality. Forster is the host of her radio show The Sipping Point and her mobile application “The Wine Coach” was listed as one of the Top 8 Wine Apps in Wine Enthusiast. To learn more, visit her website at TheWineCoach.com