The SOMM Journal

April / May 2015

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104 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2015 { staff training } Monkey See, Monkey Do For obvious reasons, traditional wine training mirrors the presentations made by wine suppli- ers to restaurant buyers. Not only is it simplest to teach as we've been taught, but it seems like the right thing to do. Standard operating pro- cedure in both retail and hospitality requires a salesforce to "know their stuff," so tech sheet stats on varietal breakdowns, production meth- ods and harvest conditions get lots of emphasis. But it's important to remember that this info is geared to a professional audience, aimed at the task of distinguishing one product from an array of similar competitors. It's considerably less relevant at the restaurant level, where any given Montsant or Riesling might be the only example of its category. "Too much in-depth information about indi- vidual wines can actually be counterproduc- tive if the skills needed to use it wisely haven't been developed," says Kate Moroney, Beverage Director of Philadelphia's Vintage Wine Bar. "I only have so much time to spend on getting my team up to speed, so it makes sense to focus less on what matters to the winemaker and more on what matters to the wine drinker." A co-founder of Philly Wine Week, Moroney recalls a moment of realization after an in-depth training session on sensory science, demonstrat- ing how simple ingredients like salt and sugar Show and Tell At Vintage Wine Bar in Philadelphia, Beverage Director Kate Moroney tries to provide her team with universal wine skills, not just wine-specific product information. FOR RESTAURANT STAFF, WINE SKILLS TRUMP WINE KNOWLEDGE by Marnie Old WINE IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY DATA-HEAVY SUBJECT, and inherent features of the trade lead us to focus our staff training efforts on conveying product-specific wine knowl- edge. Most restaurants don't attempt to teach their servers much beyond the vital statistics of the wines they carry, such as grapes, appellations and barrel regimes. However, it's worth asking whether this approach makes the best use of our precious wine training resources. PHOTO: KRISTA PATTON

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