Introduction to the Wine Industry

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A wine report released by Zagat Surveys surveyed restaurants for the most requested brands. Here’s a list the 10 most prevalently ordered brands for 2007:

1. Jordan Vineyard & Winery

2. Cakebread Cellars

3. Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards

4. Silver Oak Wine Cellars

5. Duckhorn Vineyards

6. Stags Leap Winery

7. Caymus Vineyards

8. Kendall-Jackson Vineyards

9. Santa Margherita

10. Robert Mondavi Winery

Although these popular wine brands are dominating sales in restaurants, the top five wines are produced at the small to mid-sized winery.


Welcome to the first course of the “Hospitality’s Guide to Uncorking Wine Profits.” If you could double your monthly tips by making wine recommendations, would you invest the time learning about selling wine?

Before you answer that question here are some factual incentives on why wine sales are so profitable:

  • 1. Over the last 5 years, wine sales have more than doubled in the United States alone. Restaurants, in 2006, raked in 86 percent more in wine profits compared to previous years.
  • 2. According to the survey results conducted by the Gallup Poll, on American consumption habits, over 33 percent drink wine. Beer lovers account for only 36 percent. That’s nearly a third of the population.
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  • 3. Zagat Surveys conducted a study of the most prevalently served wines of 2007 at restaurants across the country. Results were divided into several categories:
  • Brand
  • Country of origin
  • Variety
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  • 4. Based on the poll results, Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for more than 17 percent of popular wine orders.
  • 5. Pinot Noir came in at number two with 15.2 percent of sales.
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  • 6. Zagat’s poll shows that the tide is shifting in wine. It’s the first time in the American history of wine that Chardonnay slipped from its number one position.
  • 7. Oenological analysts contend that white wines (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rieslings) are gaining popularity, suggesting that as the popularity of wine catches on, more people will discover their favorite style.
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  • 8. The same survey portrayed how more and more Americans prefer red to white wines. In fact, red wines account for almost 64 percent of the most popular wines purchased.
  • 9. Wine production and consumption transcend a host of countries, ethnicities and cultures:
  • American
  • French
  • Italian
  • Australia
  • Chile
  • Germany
  • And others
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  • 10. Another study conducted by the Wine Market Council shows that the generation dubbed as, the “the Millennial” (the demographic of people born between 1986 and 1970) were responsible for 36 percent of the wine purchases in 2006.
  • 11. Data, gathered over half the decade, exhibits how wine is rapidly becoming an aspect of the American culture.
  • 12. Wine is not another fleeting trend in beverage consumption, either. Since medical researchers have noted the health benefits of wine, many more people are enjoying wine more than ever.
  • 13. More importantly, Americans prefer wine over other alcoholic beverages for both its taste and its perceived health benefits. According to a report published by Consumer Reports on Eating Share Trends, over the past five years, — the number of wine orders has increased an average of more than 10 percent.

So, what do the above oenogical (wine study) facts and figures mean to you?

These numbers represent a profitable way to:

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and profits

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Given its place in history, coupled with its burgeoning demand, wine is a valuable commodity for restaurateurs and professionals of the hospitality and culinary industries.

While some people enjoy chasing down a meal with a beer, others savor their wine. The old adage that an excellent meal is incomplete without a good wine applies in the world of restaurant dining. Dubbed as the Nectar of the Gods, wine has been a part of the human experience for along time.

With that said, selling wine requires a little oenology (the study of wine). From this course, you will learn everything you need to know about wine:

  • Wine production 101
  • The 6-Classic varietals
  • Recommend wines like a pro
  • Pairing Menu Entrées with wine recommendations
  • Delivering Professional Wine Service
  • Ports, Champagnes and Dessert wines
  • And other pertinent hospitality and culinary information
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Instead of up selling the lobster or prime rib dinner, a bottle or a few glasses of wine can ring up sales enough to improve your tips by 50 percent.

Did you know that a lack of wine knowledge diminishes your tip potential by 50 percent?

Consider this:

  • The average dinner entrée ranges between $17 and $23
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  • The national median price per glass of wine is $7
  • Now consider a table of four. Each orders an entrée, bringing their bill to $80.
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  • Add two glasses of wine for $14.
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  • Which bill has a better tipping percentage, the bill with the entrée or the check with the glasses of wine?
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Obviously, the order with the wine is the answer.

The Wine Quandary

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Unlike natives of France, Italy, Germany and other European countries, Americans are not raised drinking wine with their dinner. In the opinion of the acclaimed enologist and wine critic, Frank Prial of the New York Times, Americans “tend” to consume wine like a cocktail or without a meal. National restaurant sales validate Prial’s perspective. Restaurateurs, using a well-rounded wine-by-the-glass program, attest to the theory.

Unfortunately, wine sales are only as profitable as the knowledge of the staff serving the wine. Inappropriately served wine not only diminishes the customer’s dining experience, it hurts the reputation of your restaurant.

Nevertheless, selling wine is not as straightforward as asking a customer for a food order. Certain wines create balance with specific food types. Different styles of wine are more appealing to various wine lovers.

Selling wine can be a restaurants best revenue driver or it can pose many drawbacks, losses, or setbacks. Some of the following mistakes can destroy a well planned wine sales program:

  • Incorrect pouring (under or over pouring)
  • Ill-timed wine service
  • Inept table service
  • Improper storage
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From reading the customer, making an appropriate wine recommendation, describing a vintage – to extending proper wine service etiquette, these sales points all necessitate wine intelligence.

The key to selling wine successfully is education-for both servers and diners. Over the course of the Hospitality’s Guide to Uncorking Wine Profits, service professionals will learn the following:

  • How to encourage customers to feel comfortable about ordering wine
  • The right questions to ask
  • Appropriate serving techniques
  • And more…

Since customer’s requests depend on a professional’s aptitude, it’s important to learn the answers to the hard questions:

  • Different varietals
  • Wine Characteristics (appearance, flavor and weight)
  • Food and Wine Pairing Suggestions

So, before we uncover these selling strategies, it’s important to have a general understanding of wine. In the next couple of chapters, you will find the essentials to make you dangerous enough to sell wine like a pro and maximize your tip potential.

The formula to profitable uncorking is education.

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