Doug Wregg is ideally placed to know how relationships should work between between restaurants and their suppliers. On the one hand he is part of the team behind the Terroirs stable of restaurants and the other he is sales and marketing director for Les Cave de Pyrene. Here he explains why true partnership is the only way to succeed.
The relationship between a wine supplier and any establishment it supplies works most effectively when it is a partnership. It behoves the supplier to learn about the nature of the business they are supplying. Equally, dealing with hundreds of accounts every day, suppliers have a fair idea of good practice, what works and what doesn’t, and can use this knowledge, and the resources of their own business to nurture and develop the fortunes of other businesses.
A drinks list is not just functional; it is a means of elevating a restaurant offering. Many establishments still default to what they believe is the tried-and-trusted (formulaic wines, formulaically presented), or what they imagine their customers might want to see on a wine list. This is a counsel of mediocrity.
So how can we (the wine supplier) help to raise the bar (so to speak)? By assembling suggestions for an interesting and balanced drinks list – not one that ticks the branded boxes. by providing choices in terms of seasonality, delicious drinkability, one which both respects the food offering and delivers on value.
A list, however, is only as good as the way it is constantly serviced. This may involve writing tasting notes, doing introductory tastings and training, even helping with the odd shift on the floor. When the list beds in the supplier may then assist in cultivating a deeper wine culture by means of hosting themed wine events, finding guest speakers, and organising growers’ wine dinners – all of which help to create and establish a loyal and increasingly informed customer base.
Wine culture always requires constant refreshing. Whilst some restaurants may get by on the strength of their reputation others need to stand out from the crowd by being proactive and creating a community of dedicated followers.
Whilst this may be done via social media, working with suppliers to create a strong and dynamic drinks offering, is the one of the best means of developing business.