Training your staff on wine- how the experts do it

BY InVine Social

Training your staff on wine


Developing a wine program is no easy feat- just ask any sommelier, wine director or small restaurant manager. It comes from years of learning what wines pair with what foods, what wines go with what social situations, etc. etc. Once your wine program is in place, how do you transfer that knowledge over to your staff? Training your staff on wine is an essential part of a comprehensive wine program. Your team is your number one resource for connecting with customers, they are the face of your restaurant, and they have the power to dazzle customers!

Here are the key points of information you will need to convey when training your staff on wine:

  1. Pronunciation. Make sure your staff knows how to pronounce all of the bottles on your wine list. This seems like a no-brainer, but it can be difficult to pronounce some of the European vineyards. Make sure they know the proper pronunciation.
  2. Tasting notes. It can definitely be a challenge for a server to learn all of the tasting notes for all of the bottles of wine on your list. Have them know all of the by-the-glass options and the best bottle sellers first. Quiz them on it! Then move on to the other bottles. Make sure they know your priorities about what stock they should be focused on.Comparable varietals. With so many varietals and regions, it’s good to know the basics. What varietals are similar? What might be a good replacement for someone looking for a Vinho Verde?
    Often times a restaurant doesn’t have exactly what someone is used to drinking and wants. Make sure your servers know a comparable by-the-glass option for popular varietals.
    For example, if someone love Pinot Grigio but you don’t have a Pinot Grigio on your list, make sure your server knows a by-the-glass option that’s comparable so the guess will be satisfied.
  3. Pairings. Servers should know what by-the-glass options and bottles go with what main entrees. While really any wine can go with any dish, often guests will ask for a recommendation. Server’s should be ready and able to give a good recommendation.
  4. Personal favorites. Have wine tastings with your servers. They should know what the wines they are serving taste like, at least the by-the-glass options. This will allow them to develop a palate of their own and pick out their own personal recommendations for a guest. This instills confidence of the server in the guest and makes the restaurant overall look professional and knowledgable about the wine list.
  5. What to push. There’s always a time when you need to push those extra cases you ordered. Make sure servers know what needs to be pushed each evening and even ways on how to do so.
  6. General wine knowledge. In addition to having your servers do wine tastings with the wines on your list, encourage your servers to do wine tastings, try new wines, learn about a new area- or better yet- take staff wine tasting tours or invite wine specialists in to talk to the staff.


You can see how training your staff on your wine list can be a time consuming and challenging endeavor. Luckily there’s now tools and program out there that can help make this process a little easier.


Check out InVine’s software and learn how you can offer guests tasting notes, pairings and glasses you’d like to push without having to train servers! Learn more in a quick demo.

Sign up for your demo here