Master of Wine, Peter McCombie recently convinced Irish restaurateurs to adopt lower profit margins on wine. At a recent trade event hosted by Searsons, 1 out of 3 restaurateurs said they would consider cash margins rather than percentage margin, for premium-priced wines.
Peter McCombie was the guest speaker on ‘Creating Profitable Wine Lists’. He has created award-winning wine lists for Jamie’ Oliver’s Fifteen, the Cinnamon Club, The Dorchester, The Cliff in Barbados, amongst others.
His presentation was followed by an animated panel discussion, led by Nick Munier (Pichet), Paul Cadden (Saba), Ross Golden-Bannon (Food & Wine) and Charles Searson (Searsons).
“Higher wage costs, coupled with lower footfall and increased competitiveness, are forcing restaurateurs to re-examine traditional concepts in offering wine,” according to Paul Cadden, former RAI President.
McCombie’s advice was that while there is no ‘one-size-fits-all approach,’ he advised sommeliers and restaurateurs to create wine lists appropriate to the venue. He criticised egotistical ‘Yellow Pages’ style intimidating wine lists, in favour of concise, style-driven, consumer-friendly lists, with wine tasting notes that appeal to the lay-person. A practical workshop on writing tasting notes revealed how diverse wine prose is in Ireland.
Wine by the glass, particularly when offered in more than one pour size, ideally en carafe, was viewed as attractive for both consumer and the restaurant, delivering choice, loyalty and profitability, once managed carefully.
Wine training was the driving force behind implementing successful wine lists. Peter recommended staff had broad wine knowledge and wine service skills in the first instance. Thereafter, specific product training delivered in short frequent bursts was the best approach.
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is the world’s leading provider of vocational wine education. Its qualifications are the most recognised, and are aligned with Ireland’s National Framework for Qualifications.