By Sean Arthur, Food and Beverage Manager, Holland and Holland Shooting Grounds
Throughout my own career I have approached my guests with my 72 page wine list, been guided to the host of the table for the wine selection and been asked loud and proud “We need a good red for the mains, do you have any Bordeaux?” as if that is the most logical choice for any occasion.
Of course, why not?
But I have always been an advocate of expanding the guest’s repertoire of go-to styles. There are occasionally those more worldly guests that are aware quality wines exist outside of the obvious suspects, but I always felt they were too few and far between, especially when working in a classic fine dining atmosphere.
So how do we change this habit and broaden the horizons without compromising on selling “THAT” big bottle of high-earning 1er Grand Cru in favour of a mid-range Zin?
Now, I don’t mean we should over-stock ourselves or force sales upon people. But there’s definitely a case for showing a passion for other styles and broadening the mix of sales in the room each service.
For myself and my sommelier team this brought about a lot of discussion in the room, amongst the team and even across tables between guests. And with the diversity in sales my Junior Somms became much more confident.
Each time we were presented with the request for a robust French red – for this purpose lets suppose its right bank Bordeaux – I would bring up the selection and point out favourites, but before leaving the table for them to peruse and discuss I would flick forward to the Californians and give some comparatives.
For example, if the host’s eyes widened at the sight of a vertical of Léoville Barton from 1988 forwards then I would mention the new and exciting styles I added from Orin Swift. The prices would be comparable (maybe a bit cheaper) and I’d particularly point out the “Abstract” Cabernet Sauvignon, “Mercury head” Cabernet Sauvignon or “Papillon” listed as Bordeaux Blend.
Some customers might wonder about the lack of back-vintage variety, but I’d just tell them that that’s not Orin Swift’s ethos. They are about putting out well-made and explosive wines to be enjoyed when released. You can age them if you want, but… you know, drink it.
Rather than focusing on comparing grapes and terroir, it’s the story that gets me each time and is something I love presenting in the dining room.
Yes, of course the Old World have stories, but often I found the newer wineries’ stories to be more diverse and more relatable.
Orin Swift began when David Swift Finney bunked off Uni for a year to go drinking in Italy (I’m paraphrasing slightly). He fell in love with wine, and when he came back he trained at the Robert Mondavi Winery before eventually setting up his own venture.
As a story, that’s more fun than ‘handed down from aristocrat to aristocrat through the generations’.
Your guests come for the food and ambience, but they will forever remember that something new, or that wild story that led to their occasion being truly amazing. For me, it’s the exploration and the story that creates the stand-out experience. Wines like this can help to do that.
A few facts on Orin Swift to get you started
David Swift Finny inspired in Italy, trained at Robert Mondavi Wineries and founded his winery in 1998.
His Palermo is a good place to start.
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 12 months, 39% new oak
Notes: Deep dark crimson colour, powerful aroma of currants, vanilla and cedar wood. Explodes onto the palate with powerful blackcurrant and dark cherry fruits, luscious and smooth.
Stockist: Enotria & Coe, £28-£35
by Melania Battiston, Head Sommelier, Medlar
We all know how hard it is for hospitality professionals to find time outside of work to concentrate on their studies.
With the long hours, stress and pressure we face every day, it can be a real challenge to balance the two.
But during my time as a Sommelier I have developed – and fine-tuned – a few tricks to allow myself more time to include studies in my daily routine effectively. They could help you too if you’re studying for exams, competitions, or just want to learn more.
1 PLAN AHEAD – AND MAKE YOUR GOALS ACHIEVABLE
I always suggest to have your own agenda that guides you thorough the week. Every Sunday write down your study goals for the week to come. It doesn’t matter how many there are, you just have to make sure that they are achievable. So don’t be afraid to start small.
Then every night write a ‘to-do’ list for the day after. Divide your tasks into chunks of time and stick to them.
Why do this before going to bed? So your brain can process your easiest decisions (like what to have for breakfast or managing your schedule) during the night. This means you’re not expending useless willpower first thing in the morning when your brain is at its sharpest and should be concentrating on the most important decisions.
You want to make sure that studying doesn’t affect your real work; therefore the most practical tip here is to decide which days you’ll totally be focusing on your job and the days you will be adding studies as an extra. Try to recognise the time of the day where you’re at your most productive and then plan your study hours around that.
2 AVOID PROCRASTINATION
Ok, now that you have created your own weekly/daily schedule it’s time for some action! You’ll probably be studying only for a few hours a day; therefore you’ll need to act efficiently. Let’s get rid of the triggers that can distract you (phone, TV), have scheduled 5 minutes breaks every 25 minutes of work; and get yourself a reward every time you finish the session. It could be something as simple as “If I conclude this topic before going to work I’ll then have my favourite croissant at the coffee shop”. Again, structure is essential.
3 BUILD A COMMUNITY
It’s crucial to build up a community of like-minded people who can understand your journey, your difficulties and can cheer you on and encourage you to keep moving toward your goals and not to give up. Studying during a full-time job is hard, so you’ll need good support! Share experiences, learn from others and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
4 HAVE A REST DAY
Use your day off as a real day off. You’ve earned it and you need it. So spend it wisely by relaxing, nourishing your mind and your body. Exercise, meditation, listening to music and socialising are all good. But it’s good to try self-affirmation, too: saying positive things to yourself in front of a mirror for 5-10 minutes.
Things not to do on your day off: stay up late, watch screens all day, check work emails or jump onto social media as soon as you wake up.
You don’t need to feel guilty about having down-time, since your brain will work anyway in the background without you even realising it. It’s called diffuse mode and allows your brain to solve problems or make connections without you even trying.
5 KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED
There will be times when you feel tired, down and even demotivated. So keep reminding yourself why you are studying for this exam/competition/qualification. Visualise yourself achieving your goals and look back at all you have accomplished.
Imagine scenarios where you are succeeding (like acing a job interview or winning a competition), and be as detailed as possible – try to recreate the exact scenario in your mind, with sounds, smells and colours. Think big!