Wine is a critical part of any fine-dining restaurant, and at Tru in Chicago, guests expect the best wine experience possible from the nationally renowned list. “We try to always have a wine list that represents the world of wine as best as we can,” says David Murr, Tru’s sommelier. The wine list contains over 1,500 selections in addition to by-the-glass pours and an impressive list of liqueurs. “We try to carry the big names as well as the small producers.”
Educating and maintaining wine knowledge among front-of-house staff can be a challenge for any management team, but Murr says there are a few smart ways managers can approach wine education for their staff. Below, her shares five tips that he uses to keep the team at Tru engaged with the wine list.
1. Speak to your whole staff.
At Tru, the staff includes both servers who have worked in the industry for over 10 years and employees who don’t have much experience. As a result, Murr has to build wine lessons that work for both groups — with enough new information to keep the servers with more experience engaged, while covering the basics for the newer servers. “When we sit down to do tastings I make sure that we have a discussion about the staples of the wine list like, the by-the-glass pours, and then we’ll move into talking about more unusual things,” he says.
2. Focus on the guest experience.
Murr bridges the gap between the two topics by talking about the guests and how they might interact with a certain wine. That brings everyone into the discussion and enables them to think about how they can talk about certain pours tableside. “We don’t focus on the ‘theory’ of a wine per se, but more why our guests might like it and what would pair well with it food-wise,” Murr says. [Read more…]