Wine Speak is No Longer a Foreign Language – Translation Ahead for Service Professionals!

For Service Professionals: How many times have you had a table ask you to recommend a wine and you were stumped?  How prepared are you to guide your guest through your wine list? All of those challenges will be alleviated with the tools you will learn from this lesson.
What your customer asksWhat they really mean
What are your house wines?Many customers feel if the restaurant picked it for their house wine, it must be a decent wine and this question simplifies their decision process down to a few varietals or even red or white wine. Typically means what is your value wine or least expensive. This guest may be a lot less discerning than others. This is usually not your opportunity to sell the most expensive wine on the list, but rather use your skill set to help this guest select a value driven wine.
What would you suggest with the ___
(salmon, steak or other menu item)?
This is not a trick question! This is actually the moment you’ve been waiting for!  Your customer assumes you are the expert (after this class, rightfully so) They would believe that since you work there you have tried most if not all of the food and wine and can provide a recommendation based on experience. (This may require more probing on your part, going back to your core question- what do you typically drink?)  You need to make suggestions based on their palette unless you know that they are willing to be adventurous.  Don’t be upset if they pick something else though!
What is your most popular wine?The guest is trying to gage what is best selling and get a feel for what other people are enjoying during their experience.  This question is more typical of guests who don’t frequent the restaurant. Take this question as an opportunity to build a rapport and to show your knowledge, by not only answering the question but also making personal suggestions.
What do you like on the list? Which wine do you suggest?BINGO!!! This is your time to shine!!  If you have more than one favorite on the list, this question can bounce you right back to all the probing questions that we just taught you. It also gives you the opportunity to flex your DOMSOM and use the knowledge and keywords to help you describe your favorite wine on the list.  You not only want to tell the guest what your favorite wine is and describe it to them this also gives you the opportunity to suggest a pairing. This is the ultimate DOMSOM moment!