Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tasting wines

Yesterday we carried out a fairly large tasting to determine which wines we were going to list on the brasserie wine-list. Over-all we tasted 46 wines, over about an hour and a half. From that we isolated 16 wines that potentially might be listed (10 are dead certs, six we arent too certain off). This led me to thinking that many folks might not really know how we decide these things, so i figured i would write about it and let you all know how it happens.

About five weeks ago I sat down with two of the brasserie team to run through the wine list and see which wines sold, which didnt and try and work out which wines we needed to look at replacing. There are often many reasons why a wine doesnt sell well. Sometimes its a price thing, sometimes its an unknown entity, sometimes its just unpopular, or the staff arent really knowledgable about it and so it doesnt get sold. I have to try and figure out the reasons and then work out whether we need to replace it or just carry out some staff education.

So anyway the end result is that i now have a list of twenty wines that we are going to look at replacing. The next stage is to go to our suppliers, tell them that we are looking at replacing certain wines and start soliciting samples from them. Now I dont want to take the piss, so usually i will get them to submit a written proposal, and from that i will cherry pick samples. Then we sit back and wait a week or two until all the samples are in together. Once I have all the bottles clogging up my office, i try and sort them out into flights of similar styles. Sometimes i will eliminate a few bottles here and there if i feel that they dont look right. Image is important.

Now comes the hard part, co-ordinating five peoples schedules in order to get everyone to taste the wines. I try and get Ross (GM), Chef, Andre (F&B), a couple of guys from the brasserie and anyone else thats free and has a reasonably good palate involved. The wider the range of palates the more consensus is reached and (usually) the wider the appeal of the wine. It sometimes brings us down to earth a bit!!

So we get everyone together and we taste the wines, eliminating tainted bottles, and isolating those bottles we feel has potential. Yesterday we tasted 46 wines, of which 6 were tainted. Of the remaining bottles we picked out 15 bottles which will end up being listed.

Now comes the boring bit, but im going to save that for tomorrow.


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