Drink Warehouse UK Blogs

Published on March 17, 2023.

Why wine training for the on-trade HAS to change?

Part 1 by Scott Malyon.

Here’s why I think wine training for the on-trade HAS to change.


So, to be clear from the off, these are my opinions based on a lot of experience, firstly. Secondly, is that this post comes with a very good level of understanding and empathy for on-trade outlets and how they operate vs. how they want to operate. Specifically, with their wine offering; no matter how small, vast, expensive, cheap, outlandish or boring they may be. It makes no difference as to the conclusions that I have come to over the past few years, which I want to share now.

Here is a hypothetical scenario, as a loose basis for my thoughts: 


“I am an owner of a relatively busy pub, where I have a decent mix of regulars and destination diners. My overheads are high, supply chain issues all over the shop and I am up against it most days. However, I adore my operation and I have a steady batch of staff that want to be here and are keen to learn. I have a wine list that is pretty un-inspiring but does a job but in need of a revamp.”


This is something that I hear regularly of course, but, all too often, I seem to see the same old attempts at tackling this problem. The lack of innovative vigour and sense of enterprise prevents these issues from being solved – again, from what I see way too often. So, as a training manager myself, I started to make a real change in the way that I ran training sessions for restaurants, bars, clubs etc and really took notice of a few major things, that, ultimately, changed the way in which the training sessions that I ran, were far better received. It all really starts with the primal stuff – seriously, it’s that simple.

The way in which I spoke with attendees in the training sessions was hugely important. I have found, that witnessing many wine training sessions/classes/gatherings, or whatever you care to call them, to be tedious, one dimensional, way too formal and ‘processed’. Now, to those reading this, the next word I want to focus on is arguably overused and perhaps mis-contextualised too. That word is ’empathy’. In order to engage with people that work tirelessly in an on-trade establishment, dealing with all kinds of people just simply looking for a great time out, you MUST have empathy towards them. If I was on the receiving end of someone standing in front of me, talking to me about the soil type, aspect and impact of water in a valley in the middle of north eastern France full of old vines, I could be mildly interested. I could also be very turned off and bored because I was expecting to be jacked up with crazy amounts of energy, by someone who is dangerously passionate about wine. If only that second option was a dead cert with every wine training session that was ever given, ever. Well, let me tell you, being entertaining as well as knowledgable go absolutely hand in hand when it comes to delivering successful training sessions. 


If you want to know how this developed, I will post parts 2 and 3 over the coming days.



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About the author

Scott Malyon

Scott is Sheridan Cooper’s new wine expert, with 15 years experience in the wine industry. His main mission is to ensure that wine is inclusive and not exclusive and to ensure that people who enjoy a glass of wine, really see that it is as much a part of popular culture as anything else. Scott believes in immersive education around wine, removing any fluff and nonsense that would otherwise confuse people. There are over 12,000 grapes on this planet that make wine, and so Scott wants to make sure that this is reflected within our wine portfolio to satisfy wine drinkers that seek both comfort and a little discomfort and adventure by trying new things.

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