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A Confident Staff for a Confident Pour (Part 3 of 4)

Wine preservation is at the heart of successful training.

Leaders in the industry understand what a crucial role their wine by-the-glass program plays in building a loyal customer base. Ordering wine by-the-glass should be seamless, free of stress or intimidation, and should foster a sense of excitement. A successful wine service is evidence of an inspired and hardworking staff, but it works the other way around too, because an inspired and hardworking staff can also evolve from a successful wine program.

“Every day at pre-meal, we taste wine,” says Dominick Purnomo, sommelier and owner of Yono’s Restaurant in Albany, NY. “It is part of our culture, part of who we are.” Servers are given the chance to taste what is new, sip an old favorite, or do a blind taste to “give them a refresher, think about tasting every day.” And when Purnomo says every day, he means it. For him, every day is an opportunity for improvement. “What we want is to be challenged.” Purnomo can be confident that those challenges will be met with excellence, thanks to a wine preservation system that has been with him since day one. His servers know that the wine they are trying tastes just as its maker intended, regardless of when the bottle was opened.

For restaurants like the Elbow Room in Fresno, CA, who sell from their extensive wine list from the top down, one subtle digression in service could be the reason why a guest chooses a different restaurant the next time around, or, if they do come back, why they choose to spend less money on wine. It is very subtle, but once customer skepticism takes over, it is difficult to regain the sense of trust that servers have worked so hard to build. Shirinian knew that he needed a preservation system that would increase the value of his already top notch wine list, while at the same time protecting the credibility of his knowledgeable staff.

“Guests can spend their money anywhere,” owner Michael Shirinian reminds us. “So our job is to build that credibility so that if we make a suggestion, you feel that it is worth the money.”

Both Shirinian and Purnomo can attest that it is not always just about profit. Wine preservation is an essential component of service, for what it brings, but it also for what eliminates in terms of extra hassle and worry.

“As an operator, there are so many things to be concerned with,” Shirinian says, noting the major choreography required daily behind the scenes. “Having the right serve and preserve system takes a big negative element out of the equation. It is one less major thing to deal with.” He has even gone as far as to install two resealing systems at equal distance to the pouring stations, so that his servers never have to go out of their way to preserve and reseal. It has become a natural part of by-the-glass service with, Shirinian adds, very easy training. “There was no push back from staff.”

At Yono’s, this means more time at staff line-up for servers to share ideas, tastes, and further their own passion.

“It’s genuine,” says Purnomo. “If they like the wine, they’re going to be excited about it.”

Servers should have a chance to spread their own, genuine, sense of enthusiasm, which means that they have to know, without a doubt, that what they are tasting is at peak quality, to be confident that that same wine, when poured for the guest, has not been compromised in any way. A system, then, that preserves and reseals wine in one easy step, can act as that much needed foundation from which restaurants can build their own, personal, success stories.

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