Training to Upsell Wine

The world of wine is global swathe of variety, regulation, and, for most, confusion. Whilst there is more to know about wine that there is many other things in this world, absolute knowledge isn’t necessary. Some may wonder where to start when training their employees on wine and others may wonder if it’s even worth the effort, as they’ll never be able to cover everything. Yet with a little education, directed into the right areas relevant to your specific offerings, your staff can be made to sound like confident professionals who’s suggestions your guests can trust and enjoy.


Some shy away from allowing their staff to taste alcohol but with wine it is both necessary and educational; especially because many are not overly experienced with a large variety of grapes, wines, and regions. Have your employees taste different offerings side by side, begin with different grapes -like one of each of your by the glass offerings- so that they can see what the differences are. Repeat this a few time with everyone, so that the unique flavor elements of each varietal are imprinted in their minds and they can loosely define each grape themselves.

Repetition is key to memory, and in order to memorize the flavors properly and talk about them confidently your employees must taste the wines to do so. Once you’re confident that your employees can do this with your house wines you can consider moving to the next, much more in-depth, level where you’ll taste the same grape from a variety of regions. This will seriously expand their knowledge of wine, and is the part where many people fall giddily through a wormhole, deep into the world of wine. It is most beneficial to you if those that they’re tasting are offered from your wine list.

Pop Quizzes

Repetition is key to memory, and it is not only your taste memory which benefits from this but also your cognitive memory. Ask your employees questions about wine during lineup and during slow periods to help jog their memories and keep the knowledge fresh in their mind. These questions can be about wine in general, tasting notes on specific grapes, tasting notes on specific wines that you stock, and other questions about which wines pair well with the dishes on your menu.

Teach Pairings

You should give your employees wine pairing to memorize for the items on your menu, however this doesn’t forward their wine education. Don’t just give them pairings to learn but teach them, and ask them, why said wine pairs well with said food; are they complementing each other or are they contrasting each other? Such teaching of pairings, as opposed to the learning of a list, not only increases their wine education but really allows your employees to talk knowledgeably about your wine and food offerings with their guests. It also increases their knowledge of your wine and food offerings.

Price Range Variety

Most people’s wine choices are restricted by their budget as they have a set value range which they wish to spend on a bottle of wine when they head out for a meal. Here, wine menu knowledge is crucial for your employees to help guests make the best decision for themselves. Make sure your employees are familiar with your offerings of wine by the bottle. Being familiar with your wine by the bottle list allows your employees to talk, at least somewhat confidently, about your offerings and recommend alternatives to your guest that still fall in their same price range, which may align better with their food choices and improve their expereince. This is the part of wine service which is most in-depth and takes the longest to learn. But don’t hesitate, get them familiar with your wine list from the very start of their education with you and this will make them even more comfortable when it comes round to learning more about it.

Wine is a large and obscure word surround by mystery. Yet with some direct education that is specifically related to the wines they’re serving everyday at your venue your employees will be more confident and be willing to suggest wine pairings and upgrades to their guests. In order to upsell items your employees need confidence or they will shy away from the opportunity. Confidence comes with knowledge and if you incorporate some of the above practices into your location in order to educate your employees you’ll find your wine drinking guests more satisfied and your wine sales increasing.