Decoding a wine list

Hello everyone and welcome to wsct’s Webinar for today decoding a wine list Um good morning good afternoon good Evening wherever you are in the world my Name is christine camine i hold the wsdt Diploma and i’m also a business Development manager in wsct americas And i’m currently based in los angeles California where it’s about 5 p.m on Thursday And today we have with us gerard higgins Who is currently based in australia in The hunter valley so it’s friday for all Of our Attendees who are anywhere near Gerard today Gerard higgins is a sommelier and wine Consultant from sydney australia Gerard was born and raised in new south Wales as hunter valley where he’s Currently visiting And with he has an 11 generation family History in the wine industry but he’s Now a senior brand ambassador for perno Ricard winemakers emea business business Acceleration and education team Prior to this role gerrard spent 10 Years honing his tasting skills working As a sommelier at some of sydney’s best Michelin level fine dining restaurants Before moving to stockholm sweden where He’s usually based in early 2017. gerard Holds the wsct diploma in wines and Spirits and is a stage two candidate

With the institute of masters of wine So gerard uh thank you so much for Joining us today to chat all about wine Lists Thanks for having me christine it’s a Pleasure to be chatting to wact Fantastic well jen you know we wanted to Have this webinar you know valentine’s Day is coming up there’s lots of people Dining out um whether that’s with your Partner um your significant other or Just any situation where you’re dining Out at restaurants so i have a couple of Questions prepared to ask you with all Your uh fine dining and restaurant Experience and also your work uh with Print over card and recommending wines To people all over the world so we can Jump right into it and have a Conversation for anyone who’s joining us If you have any questions uh please feel Free to put them in the chat and if we Have the time We will answer as many as we can So jen let’s jump right into it if a Table of guests is deciding between Ordering several glasses of wine versus A bottle what would you typically Suggest Well There’s a few options that people can go Down i guess christine um a wine list Written by a similar should always have Been consciously put together um so the

Wines by the glass usually tell a story And and i i would say seek to offer People Wines or flavors or different types of Experiences from all over the world so If a group of people are looking for Different things maybe eating different Dishes um wine by the glass is generally A great option to go by if it’s being Consciously chosen by the the song Otherwise wines by the bottle can offer Usually a little bit more depth or Interest in in other parts of the world Generally there’s a restriction on the Types of wines that you can offer by the Glass usually that’s a price restriction So if people are feeling a little bit More adventurous or want to spend a Little bit more money on a bottle um Bottles are usually the the best place To go So it depends on what your aims are as a Drinker Or what your company’s aims are um but Generally they’re They fulfill different purposes Yeah i find i usually go for a bottle When i’m looking to explore a bit more Especially if it’s a long and an Intricate list that uh gets me excited So yes i think it depends on the evening Um it’s also about knowing the the Similar at the place that you’re going To as well if it’s a destination list a

Place that’s known for its wine then Maybe exploring wine by the bottle is is The right thing to do in that case Yeah certainly Um do you have any tips for decisions You can make or research you can do Before you actually go to dinner to make The wine selection a little bit easier Once you arrive It depends how committed you are i guess As a diner so uh if you’re if you’re a Geek like me um and if the restaurant That you’re going to has their list Posted on the website Um which a lot of restaurants do these Days some of them admit pricing just for Commercial sensitivity but um That’s a really good place to start so Looking on the internet to see if you Can find the list even just going Through a google search sometimes people Will have taken photos of the list for You to have a quick look through uh that Can save a lot of time at the table um If wine is something that you are Interested in i know i’m guilty of it Sometimes you can find yourself sort of Being absorbed in the wine list and not In the conversation so Um doing a little bit of research Beforehand doesn’t doesn’t hurt Yes i i think i’ve certainly been there Where i’m trying to hold a conversation And also peruse the list and having that

You know a little bit of a heads up Beforehand makes you a a more enjoyable Dining companion i think as well Definitely nobody Especially if there’s two of you on Valentine’s day no one likes their Valentine’s day date um sort of stuck in The wine list and not in conversation so It’s sort of a doing your research is Sort of a respectful thing as well Especially within a couple Yep certainly So what are some ways that a wine list Can or typically is organized and do you Think there are any clues you can get About a bottle from its position on the List Yeah so this is a really good question Um generally it depends again on the Restaurant and whether the restaurant Has hired a dedicated wine service Professional be it somebody who Considers themselves a similar or Somebody with a wine specialty In that case You’re probably likely to come across a Wine list that is not organized by price Uh that’s organized by regions all the Way wine tastes textures style weight Things like that But general in general the default mode For a wine list is price from cheapest To most expensive And where wine lists are organized by

Price that can offer the drinker quite a Few clues as well for drinking so if you Turn up to a restaurant you’re Confronted by a list that’s just Organized by price cheapest most Expensive Generally The cheaper bottles won’t have Influences of oak there’ll be more Fruity styles that have been fermented In stainless steel so Fresh lighter options and the further You go down the price list um sort of The more oak influence the more richness You’ll get In the glass now reason for that being Oat barrels in the winery are very Expensive and that is usually reflected In the price so uh it’s quite difficult To find a cheap wine by the glass that Doesn’t have um oak influence i’m sorry It’s quite a cheap wine by the glass That does have like influence rather Sorry the inverse of what i was saying Initially Um and likewise um seldom will you find A very expensive Wine um that doesn’t have that barrel Influence so It’s a good way of thinking about it if You’re after fruity fruit forward stars Generally the cheaper end of the list Will be good for you if you like oak Influence

Generally you might have to spend a few More dollars Otherwise People organize lists by region By style uh and in general that’s Usually at a place where they have a Dedicated wine professional so the best Way to help you navigate your way around That list is to have a conversation and Generally people are quite proud of the Lists that they put together um so Pulling the smellier over for a chat Is the best way to go about things i Think Yeah i think you know when i have Friends who ask me you know what bottle To pick at a restaurant i always tell Them ask the psalm ask ask whoever’s in Charge of the list because they know how It’s organized and they can help you you Know find exactly what you’re looking For better than someone who’s not as Familiar could ever do so yeah that’s Good advice so kind of going off that we Just talked about you know the list is Usually organized by price um i think Price can be a touchy topic when when People are ordering a bottle out whether You’re with a romantic partner or a Business lunch you know any any reason Um price can be difficult so When you’re communicating a budget how Can you communicate a price range to Your server or some without announcing

It to the whole table what are your some Of your tips that that you might have Had from your days working in Restaurants well if you don’t want to Announce the price of the whole table Obviously some people are very uh Invested in announcing the price to show People how much they’re spending um Price i think before i talk about how to Do it i think it’s worth mentioning that Price is a super important part of the Conversation with a similar if that Person does exist um just because it Means you’re giving the person who’s Serving you a guide As to sort of how much they can [Music] Allow you to spend on a bottle of wine So don’t be scared to talk about price You don’t specifically need to mention Prices but saying i would like a bottle Of wine around this sort of price is a Really great way to help your server Now in terms of how to communicate price Without actually mentioning price the Beauty of wine lists is you can’t see Through them so they’re fully opaque and If you’ve got a wide list in front of You And your guest is sitting opposite you Or or beside you and they sort of can’t See through the cover of that wine book Um you can point at a price on the page And say to your server

I would like something around this price Without revealing what that price Actually is So By just pointing at a price on the page I’m thinking something around this price To your server then you are accurately Communicating the amount of money that You are willing to spend you’re giving Them a good idea of what they’re What they’re to go and look for and You’re also providing them the Opportunity to offer suggestions on some Other pages as well if the wine list is Quite comprehensive Yeah that’s uh you know Having the wine list be opaque is a is a Good good thing for all of us i think And i i find when i’m dining out too you Know servers are usually pretty Cognizant that people don’t want the the Price they’re looking at announced to The rest of the table um so i think you Know they’re usually they’re usually Good at being sneaky about it and and i Find too i think i think people are Sometimes concerned that if they show a Price uh the server the som will will Will recommend something you know around That or higher and i find a lot of times People even recommend something lower if It’s more in line of what i was looking To drink based on the description i’ve Given them so i agree i think having

That conversation is You know it can sometimes be Intimidating to people but i think it Only helps you find exactly what you Want and usually the service wants to Help as well Yeah a good a good server will usually Recommend things around the price that You’re asking for um something higher And something lower um and there’s a few Questions that are popping up just here On the side which i think is a really Good way great A really good time to address these um Will the somm really guide you as the Server looking to get rid of a wine that You know they’ve got a lot of stock of Um it’s all about trust at the end of The day So if you really are into wine and You’re Um You’re going into a place to explore a Wine list it’s great to build up a sense Of rapport and a sense of trust with That server like any business there’s Always going to be dodgy guys looking to Get rid of wine on the cheap um but with A little bit of research uh finding wine Dedicated venues uh generally you can Filter those places out quite quickly so Build that relationship up with the Similar Or the wine team or the maitre d in the

Restaurant And you’re more likely to have a better Experience in a place like that Yeah i think another thing kind of going Off that is People want you to return to their Restaurant so if you go and the Someone’s really upselling you or Chooses a wine that they’re trying to Get rid of that wasn’t in line with what You you described to them you’re Probably not going to return to the Restaurant so i think exactly what You’re talking about they want to build Trust uh with you as well and Recommending a wine that’s within your Price range and to your taste um and you Know the style you want is important for For for the restaurant as well if They’re doing their their job well Yeah exactly and at the end of the day Um as a person who has run restaurants In the past regular business and having Regular clientele uh is the most Important way for a hospitality business To make money um so it’s within the Restaurant’s best interests essentially Not to be trying to uh to push uh lower Quality products off onto the consumer So it’s all about trust uh and in General that’s what people i guess are About building relationships that’s what We’re about in the hospitality industry The wine industry relationships are

Really important so it’s great if Customers come in wanting to build those Relationships as well Wonderful Um so continuing on communication tips Do you have any tips for communicating The style that you like for example if i Like a shenan blanc from the loire what Descriptors should i use or any other Style to kind of key in your your Sommelier or your server what you’re What you’re looking for Well i think this is a great opportunity To plug wset’s really fantastic courses I would agree Yeah exactly uh even the level one for Wset will give you some key terms that You need to communicate what you’re Looking for in a glass of wine But failing that if you haven’t been Through wset and You Signed up for a course but maybe haven’t Completed it the best way to explain to A server what you like Is telling them what wine you have in The fridge at home at the moment or what Wine you drank at home most recently so I’d say that most people who are looking To Drink wine in a restaurant also have That old faithful bottle of marlborough Sauvignon blanc or You know rioja or something at home that

They like to drink So don’t be don’t be ashamed of that Let the server know this is what i drink On a tuesday night um what else can you Recommend that will look similar It’s good advice to help you kind of go Out of your comfort zone while still Staying in a style that you’re familiar And comfortable and and enjoy Yeah exactly i mean at the end of the Day the somalia’s job is to have their Guests uh enjoy their dining experience So Um Seldom will you find a similar that’s Going to want to throw you in the deep End of a weird and wacky style and if You unfortunately Do stumble across that kind of song They’re probably not particularly good At their job So communicating what you like is i Think the best way for them to find Something that’s similar But maybe something that you haven’t Tried before So now let’s imagine i’m out to dinner i Order a steak and my dining companion Orders ceviche or sashimi or some really Delicate scallops how can i order a Bottle that goes with both do you have Any kind of go-to styles that pair with A wide range of different dishes Well it’s a it’s a bit of a nightmare to

Be honest trying to Hear barossa shiraz with oysters or Things like that napa valley cab with Scallops i mean these are things that Fundamentally Will never work uh and in this case i Guess uh wine this with a good by the Glass option is the best way to attack That sort of situation but failing that Um there are a few tips and tricks i Guess that you can look to do to appease Everybody at the table um if you’re Sort of mediating discussion if your Compromise situation doesn’t work So I would recommend for things like Delicate seafood trying to avoid oak So if somebody really wants to drink red Wine wants to force the whole table to Drink red wine and you’ve got scallops Try and convince them to buy something That hasn’t been oat to within an inch Of its life Um but failing that in in general if It’s um if the drinker is a bit more Flexible um or the table is a bit more Flexible i really think that rose is a Really fantastic wine that is often Overlooked gastronomically but in the Glass can behave a little bit like white Wine and a little bit like red wine In order to Appease and and pair with a whole bunch Of different preferences

So um back when i was working in uh in Fine dining restaurants we used to have A 12-course diga station And if you were to walk in on any night And i had a few roses on the pairing uh It meant that they were pretty difficult Dishes that i’d been given to pair so uh Rose is a fantastic flexible way um to Um to appease a whole bunch of different Drinkers and the good thing about rose Is that it’s got the acidity to really Cut through the richness of dishes uh or To balance out freshness or aromats Herbs asian fusion it’s a really Flexible style of wine so um don’t Forget about rose it’s a it’s a great Drink yeah it gets a bad wrap too much It’s i agree it’s it’s one of the most Versatile wines around for for pairing Um all right we’re nearing our 20-minute Mark but i have a few more questions uh That came in so um let me see if i can Cover a couple of these Um Jed would you ever recommend choosing The wine before the food It depends so um Either choosing the wine before the food Or bringing a special bottle from home Is something that happens occasionally So if you have a restaurant that allows You to bring that special bottle that You’ve been keeping for 20 years that’s

A situation where i would um Uh Think about the food um say less than The wine the wine sort of the center of Attention once again it’s sort of the Inverse an inverse mission for the Somalia um i would approach uh the Similar and say hey this is what i’m Thinking of drinking i’m really Interested in this bottle uh are there Any dishes on your food menu that you’d Recommend to pair with this So um once again an open and honest Conversation with the server is the best Way to navigate that um but there’s no Problem uh pairing food around wine and There are a lot of restaurants actually That are wine focused and do that on a Daily basis Yeah so it’s a good challenge for for The team as well i think some people Some psalms or servers would actually Enjoy enjoy that challenge Yeah very much so Um wonderful let me see if we can get One more [Music] Let’s try this one um So often red with seafood is a no-no But what if the seafood is in a tomato Based or richer and darker sauce That is a very good question so Immediately a very famous tuscan fish Stew

From tuscany in italy comes to mind from A city called lavorno which sits on the Coast and that is a um that is a Fish-based stew and tomato sauce that is Drunk with um light uh chianti classico So chianti that hasn’t spent time in oak Barrels So um the red wine with fish Thing that people have heard is not a Rule and there are examples of where This is broken in regional cuisine the Other thing that i encourage you all to Taste if you haven’t is salmon and pinot Noir Salmon and pinot noir is a fantastic Pairing and A really great example of Why red wine and fish should not be Overlooked um that being said both of These stars of wine so pinot noir uh and Sanjavi they’re not wines that Hold a lot of oak particularly well so I would say well the style that we’re Looking for to pair with fish so once Again if you do want to drink red wine With fish Make sure that it hasn’t spent too much Time in oak barrels if any time at all And you’ll have a better experience Yeah it’s good advice you know when we Approach pairing at wset as you very Well know you know we we pair the Intensity of the wine with the intensity Of the food so if you kind of use that

As a principle to pair red wine with Fish you know not too much oak as as Jared’s saying i think i think you can Make it work so Um Unfortunately we are out of time for Today um thank you all for your Questions feel free to email us write us On instagram wsct we’d be happy to Answer more We hope everyone learned something from Gerard who is just a wealth of knowledge About wine uh gerard thank you so much For joining us today And i hope hope everyone enjoyed and and Enjoys their next outing at a restaurant When they’re they’re having a wonderful Conversation with their sommelier and And getting a great pairing to go with Their dinner so thank you so much gerard For joining us Thank you christine and thanks to Everybody enjoy your weekend