Published on March 27, 2023.
Why wine training for the on-trade HAS to change?
Part 2 by Scott Malyon
Hello lovely people.
So the last post I wrote on my piece around wine training for the on-trade, ended with me stating, in my opinion, the importance of being entertaining. Now clearly, this doesn’t mean turning up at a restaurant or bar with a set of juggling balls and a wand. What it does mean though, are the following:
1. The ability to make an audience feel comfortable. Often times, I have seen trainers not do this especially well and it saddens me to say this, but especially in the wine world. You have to think that wherever you host a wine training session, invariably, the people you are training know next to nothing about wine and therefore apprehensive about what they are about to be a part of.
So, in order to set the audience at ease, keep their faces all ‘cushty and sweet’ as I like to say, is to instantly tell them how you feel about wine – in real life terms! Nobody wants to hear my travels across Burgundy and tastings in famous Chateaux in Bordeaux BUT when I tell them that I lost a shoe in Rioja or fell over a cheese cart in a restaurant I definitely didn’t belong in, in Chablis, that’s where the ease comes from. Sure, it tells them that I have been on a wine trip or two, but it doesn’t say to them that I arrived with my geography teachers jacket, briefcase (cue the Inbetweeners Briefcase Wan**r joke) and quill in hand. It says, that, I went, enjoyed myself probably a bit too much, wore t-shirt and jeans with all my tattoos showing and had a rather lovely time. Honestly, this sense of ease by always trying to remove any stuffiness, right from the outset just works. No good at all, if I can’t back it all up with hella good knowledge of course.
2. The ability to make EVERY member of the audience engaged. A lot of this comes down to how good a presenter you are, goes without saying. You simply cannot be a shrinking violet in this game. However, keeping the attention of a group can be challenging, especially over longer sessions of 2+ hours. This will most likely sound cocky, but I find it really easy. I have already got them on board by doing what I talked about in point 1. above, so a chunk of the work is done already.
Now, as long as you have a decent wine selection to take the group though, that is a mixture of diverse, eccentric and classic wines, then another chunk is done for you there too. The big win is maintaining those ‘cushty and sweet’ faces. I do this, by making content eye contact with each person and including each person every step of the way. One massive piece to wine training, which will surprise nobody, is pairing food with wine. Most people love this part and most people love to hear an ‘experts’ thoughts on how to all works. I would need another 10 articles and a ton of videos to deep dive on this one, but for the purpose of this point, I shan’t. However, I have a killer set of hacks that I use, that bring smiles to faces.
Stay tuned for the next post to see more.
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About the author
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.