Have Somm Fun!
Wine should be fun!
Wine is a delight. Wine is a journey of sensory discovery. Wine is—in Matt Kramer's fine phrase—"a conversation with the earth." Wine speaks to us about people, places, eras, and ideas. Wine speaks in this way because grapes draw nourishment from layers of soil that reflect the geology, history, farming practices, and viticulture of generations.
You can spend a lifetime learning about wine, or seek just enough information to choose the right bottle for dinner. But wine needn't be stuffy and should never be pretentious!
Here are some places to begin your wine journey, whether you are a wine enthusiast just looking for a few hints that help—or a restaurant, retailer, or winery seeking to enhance your guests' wine experience.
Wine Education. Sound intimidating? Sound boring? No way! Just ask any of the original members of our Wine Meetup, which grew from 43 members in 2008 to more than 1,000 by the time the Richard & Susan turned over leadership of the group to others. Event themes ranged from tastings of wines from all major regions of the world, to topics like "The Pinot Noir Smackdown," "Wine & Chocolate for Christmas," "Old World versus New World," "Wine & Heart Health," "Exploring Varietals," and an annual Champagne and sparkling wine tasting (Cremant, Prosecco, Spumante, Cava, Sekt, and U.S. sparklers). That event became a much anticipated holiday tradition. More formal wine education courses also are offered for restaurant staff members.
Wine Event Planning. In addition to the events for wine enthusiasts described above, Richard also conducts blind tastings, wine dinners, and corporate team-building events. Two of the most popular team-building events are The Somm's informal Q & A session, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Wine But Were Afraid to Ask" and his wine-blending contest called "So You Want to Be a Winemaker." During the wine-blending contest, teams of 3-4 people create their own Bordeaux blend—combining various percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec (Petit Verdot is usually omitted). When each team has selected its best blend, they name the blend, create a label, and make a brief sales presentation about their wine to the group. The best blend from each team is then entered in a blind tasting conducted by the entire group to determine the winner of the day or evening. High-fives abound, as the winners of the contest are announced!
Restaurant Services. Richard works with local restaurants
and restaurant groups. Services include wine list development, staff training, wine club business development, and technology implementation. Ask about his twelve-week server course, as well as classes designed to prepare your staff for wine certification exams. He has also implemented tablet-based wine lists and launched restaurant-specific local wine clubs to bring guests back again and again!
Wine Writing & Social Media.
Beginning in 2008, Richard & Susan began employing social media to organize and inform wine enthusiasts. In 2009, he was recognized by Nation's Restaurant News as an online innovator using social media to draw guests into the restaurants he served. Does your restaurant or winery need wine-specific articles for your public relations firm? Do you need regular posts to Facebook and Twitter? Do you have someone scanning review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp!, and others, to be certain your business is represented fairly? Have you thought about creating a book about your restaurant or winery for your guests, to enhance their memories of wonderful occasions and prompt word-of-mouth recommendations? Richard & Susan have served hospitality businesses all these ways.
Winery Tasting Room Sales. Winery DTC sales (direct to consumer) are increasingly important revenue source for wineries. During his years in California, Richard prided himself on extraordinary guest service resulting in increased sales of reserve wines and more frequent membership sign-ups for the winery's wine club. Over the following decade as a sommelier and working in restaurant hospitality, he developed training and leadership programs that can produce similarly positive results in your tasting room.
Food & Wine Festivals. Richard was part of the team that created the Euphoria: Food, Wine, & Music Festival, in Greenville, SC, which included wine seminars conducted by guest Master Sommeliers, a Grand Tasting (200+ wines from multiple wholesalers). In addition, he served several years as a wine judge at The Hilton Head SC Wine & Food Festival.