Like a Fine Bottle of Wine

When one orders a bottle of wine in a finer restaurant there is a well crafted ritual.  A sommelier will pour a taste into the glass of the patron, providing an opportunity to ogle, swirl, sniff, taste, and swallow the varietal.  If the wine is as anticipated then it will be served to the guests.  If there is a problem the sommelier will provide the patron with options.  The process carries a strong level of inherent trust that comes from a tradition.  When done well the presentation is an art form in itself.

I have noticed how easy it is to deliver a service (the bottle of wine) to a customer and consider the transaction complete.  Did we introduce the opportunities to our guest and allow them to pick the appropriate service (introduce the wine list, help orient them and make recommendations)?  Do we help the client get started (show them the label, open the bottle, and pour an initial taste)?  Are we immediately available to gather feedback (awaiting the nod of approval that the wine is as anticipated)?  Have we assembled the resources for others to share in the experience (placed wine glasses with the other guests)?  Are we alert to their needs (check on the patrons enjoyment of the wine and prepared to bring another bottle)?  Are we memorable (do we steam the label off a particularly memorable bottle or provide a patron with the business card of the proprietor of the winery)?  Are we available to join the celebration (be prepared for the guest who wants to pour us a small taste of an especially fine vintage).

Enterprises that treat the services they offer like a fine bottle of wine build loyalty, are memorable for their expertise, raise prices, and break out of the commodity race.

Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World's Top Wine Professionals 

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