Wine tasting with a tiny group of people

Wine tasting with a tiny group of people

and how it went……

Yesterday I turned up to one of my smaller restaurants to conduct a wine tasting for 20 people or so I had been promised by the owner. It was his first try at a wine tasting event and he was very nervous about everything.

I have been doing these sort of events for 20+ years so it was just a normal day for me.

I arrived at 6.30pm to prepare for the arrival of the guests at 7pm. The menu was ChateauBriand, a beautiful piece of beef and the owner wanted red wines only to be served as a pre dinner tasting and then sell them glasses with the meal.

Wine Tasting selection

The Wines

By 7.15pm no one had arrived and I was getting worried. The owner was getting texts with cancellations and it was then I asked if he had taken deposits. His reply is one I hear so many times from owners of these establishments.

“I didn’t want to scare anyone off and I thought I knew all the guests well enough”

This is fine in normal circumstances but when ¬†you have turned away potential diners as you have supposedly fully booked your venue then this is a disaster. I ALWAYS recommend deposits or payment in full. If the customers are serious they won’t have an issue with this.

So we had 7 people in total at the tasting! Tumble weed was rolling gently through the restaurant and I had the honour of presenting 4 wines to the likely lads who had turned up.

Yes the audience was seven 23-27 year old lads who all looked like a Levi’s model. Designer stubble, Danny Dyer accents and wallets bulging with cash which they proudly put next to their latest iphone.

The wines I choose to show started with The Black Shiraz from Bob Berton. I choose this wine to start as it is fruit laden and no longer the beast of a wine it used to be 5 or so years ago. Now it is a much easier drinking Shiraz and yet it retains the characteristics that have made it a firm favourite in the UK restaurant market. The lads seemed impressed but were more interested in “banter”.

Second wine was the Domain Cigalounes Lirac from the Rhone region of France. It was higher in alcohol at 15% but was deliberately selected for it’s silky tannins and the delightful balance between fruit and alcohol. The explanation as to why this wine was different to Chateauneuf du Pape had the lads listening to me intently.

Things were getting better for me. They now were actually listening and taking things in. They were asking questions and thinking about the wines!

Third in the line up was the Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva from Chile. I had selected this wine to show how fruit interacts in the mouth in different ways, especially after the Shiraz and Lirac. This was a firm favourite with the boys and they pronounced it the best of the night.

Now they were putty in my hands and I revealed the final winning card.

The HEY Malbec from Matias Riccitelli in Argentina. After all if you are going to have a beautiful cut of meat you might as well have an amazing drop of wine to accompany it.

Hey Malbec from Matias Riccitelli

Hey Malbec 2013 from Matias Riccitelli

They were now converted. Their eyes opened in astonishment as they had grasped the subtle and not so subtle differences in wines. All it took was to talk to them in their language. To give them a little rope and let them learn by themselves.

So from disaster I had salvaged the evening. The boisterous audience had been tamed by 4 sublime wines.

The owner was astonished at how well the evening went and even more stunned at the sales from the evening and subsequent bookings for the next event.

Those lads let me work with my audience and not use the same old style of presenting that I am so comfortable with. It was great fun and they now want me to do private tastings with them on their Thursday Wine and Steak nights and have placed some great orders.

Who cares if they were just trying to get one up one each other by ordering lots of wine!

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