• Alistair Morrell: wine events only need to be 15 minutes

    So how long should a wine event be? Wine consultant, Alistair Morrell thinks no more than 15 minutes, half an hour at best as he launches the Really Fast Wine Tasting.

    So how long should a wine event be? Wine consultant, Alistair Morrell thinks no more than 15 minutes, half an hour at best as he launches the Really Fast Wine Tasting.

    By May 11, 2016

    We have probably all been the wrong side of the table when a winemaker, or a distiller, launches in to yet another volume of their intricate tasting notes to explain the seventh out of 10 glasses we have to endure that evening.

    And we’re even more probably not paying to be there.

    Imagine you had chipped out the best part of £80 to be in to your third hour of what has become the longest, and surprisingly sober, night of your life.

    Winemaker dinners can be great. They can be memorable. They can create lifetime friendships. But they can also be tediously dull.

    Business and drinks consultant, Alistair Morrell, believes he has an alternative way of making wine the special theme of a hotel or restaurant’s customer offer without risking it ever becoming boring.

    Keep it short, sharp, to the point and fun. He has come up with a simple, but potentially very effective alternative to a wine event. The Really Fast Wine Tasting.

    In either 15 or 30 minutes Morrell believes you can keep people’s attention long enough to really get to grips with a couple of key topics and then let them on their way to enjoy the rest of the night.


    Winemaker dinners are not quite as formal as they are at Downton Abbey but they can be quite an ordeal
    Winemaker dinners are not as formal as at Downton Abbey but they can be quite an ordeal



    The bottom line

    But as well as giving them a little nugget or two about wine tasting, or the differences between British and English wine, short, sharp educational sessions like that can do wonders for a hotel, in particular, bottom line.

    “The idea came about from realising a hotel’s primary concern is about recruiting customers and selling hotel beds. Having a short 30 minute wine event could help a hotel package together a nice weekend break that is offering something different to the customer and helping the hotel fill some beds.

    “They might also get the chance to taste a couple of wines of the restaurant’s list for the evening as well,” he adds.

    The same kind of event can also help with midweek sales by offering short wine talks to corporate guests.

    Morrell, whose wine career has included stints as an Asda wine buyer, working for different agencies and suppliers as well as creating his own wine brand, Pig in a Poke, is well placed to handle all the training himself.

    “We might do a session on how to understand and read a wine label. Or we might choose a wine on the hotel restaurant’s list and then explain what a particular tasting note means.

    “We can always do a short introduction to tasting wine that only needs to last two or three minutes. Even explaining the fact that 80% of what you are tasting in a wine comes from its smell is fascinating to most people,” he explains.



    What do consumers want to know

    “The trick is to look at the session from the consumer’s point of view. What might they be interested in. Like, for example, why is it a wine you drink on holiday never quite seems the same when you are at home. As tasting and drinking wine is as much about the mood and the environment you are in as it is the actual wine itself.

    “So it is about turning the events in to what the wine says about them, rather than what they should have to say about the wine.”

    Morrell believes these type of events are ideal for three or four star operations. Certainly those that do not employ a sommelier or wine specialist.

    “Wine takes up a lot of their cost and their space. So why not make the most of it.”

    Morrell also understands as a wine consultant he has to be offering something a little different to his peers and competitors.


    Point of difference

    A consultant, he argues, has to be more than just the wine. “You have to understand the needs of your customers.

    But get it right and wine consultants have an important role to play in the on-trade. “You find an increasing number of operators who do not want to be beholden to one supplier. They like you as a consultant to be able to offer an independent view. But you have to be relevant to them and their business,” explains Morrell.

    “You have to look wider than just wine. For a hotel it is all about customer recruitment. Wine costs them a lot of money and takes up a lot of storage. So why not offer them ways in which they can make it work more efficiently. Every penny counts and they need to find ways to squeeze ever possible bit of profit out of it.”


    So what do we think? Can you really be serious with a paid for wine event if it is done and dusted in 15 minutes or half an hour? Have your say in the box below…


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