Written by Ori Geshury
Why Wine Is Important
Being a great bartender doesn't mean passing the court of sommeliers, and it doesn't mean being able to juggle five bottles at the same time. It's about being good at a couple dozen key skills, and if you're missing a few of them, you can drastically limit your potential.
A couple months ago, my friend, old fraternity buddy, and impeccable sommelier Erik Segelbaum came by Aqua Vitae. He rushed in, breathless and excited, very well dressed with a gorgeous Luis Vuitton suitcase in tow. It's hard to remember that this guy jet setting all around the world and having luxury condos designed and custom built for him used to be an RA in Drexel's Kelly Hall, the most tenement like of residence halls, to save a few bucks.
It was such an amazing transformation that you couldn't help but be super happy for the guy.
I learned so much from him in the time we spent together, which I'll share with you later, but the part that stood out in my mind the most was when he was talking about the importance of learning more about wine. Erik had just been named Wine Director for all the restaurants under Steven Starr. Before then, every restaurant had done it's own thing, so quality, consistency, and regular updates varied quite a bit from place to place.
Erik's pitch to Steven Starr? This:
"Steven, in a bar like Parc, the cheapest bottle of wine is about twenty five dollars, but the most expensive bottle of wine is one thousand six hundred and fifty dollars. There isn't anything the restaurant offers that has the potential to make money the way wine does!"
Stop for a second and think about that before reading on.
Imagine you're a bartender working in a high end bar. If a couple of guests order extra deserts, or a couple extra cocktails, maybe they'll spend twenty more dollars, and you'll see three or four extra dollars in your tips. But if you sell a more expensive bottle of wine, and they spend an extra three or four hundred dollars, can you imagine how much of a difference that would make for both you and restaurant?
Since wine has so much money making potential, who do you think is going to get those coveted Friday and Saturday night shifts?
We designed the Aqua Vitae Institute wine seminar to be for beginners and to strip away all the ego, and intimidation that surrounds the wine world, so people can approach it in a simple and easy way and have confidence to talk to your guests in actual English instead of the hard to understand flowery language that people use to sell there product.
This is actually by design. One of my favorite books, The Renegade Server, talks about how when bartenders and servers use simple, easy to understand language, they end up being better liked and selling more wine.
We go through the different methods of production as well as flavor differences between the old world and the new. We'll talk about how wine is made, terroir, serving groups of 8 in the traditional style, and also the language of wine.
The point of this seminar isn't just to give you a lot of new words to learn or wines to try, the point is to develop an excitement and passion for wine that will inspire you to try wine yourself and give you a working framework for furthering yourself in the industry. The wonderful thing with wine is that each bottle can be totally different from the last, even though they are from the same producer! That means nearly every experience you have can be fresh and new. Once you understand our framework, you can learn and grow with every bottle you drink!
When you share your passion and knowledge with your customers and in your job interviews, amazing things can happen!