Top Tips, Trends & Trivia to Boost Your Wine IQ

Maia Gosselin is a wine educator, consultant and managing editor. She owns and operates Sip Wine Education, LLC and facilitates the production of Massachusetts Beverage Business magazine. One of her main goals is the demystification of wine, mainly to assist in making bar staffs more comfortable around the noble juice. Wine can, as many of us already know, be intimidating. There is often an unfortunate air of pretention that hangs around it like a persistent cloud of snobbery. Putting your staff at ease when it comes to discussing wine is crucial if you sell the stuff. Should a guest ask a staff member a question about wine and receive an awkward, uncertain response, the guest will likely feel uncomfortable, end the conversation and possibly not order the wine about which they’re curious.

To avoid just such a situation, Maia has a few tips. First is the most obvious: work to get your staff into their comfort zone around wine and they’ll own your wine list. Second, explain New World wines versus OId World wines (it just so happens we’ve discussed this before here) , which boils down to helping them understand grape varietals versus wine regions on the labels. Maia also suggests creating a map that will help your staff understand the wine regions of the world.

In addition to making your staff more confident around wine, Maia had more information to offer. Crémant, bubbly produced in French regions other than Champagne, most notably Burgundy, Alsace and Limoux and Jura, is the sparkling wine that has proven to be the big trend in bubbly. Also, as she put it, “If rosé wines aren’t on your menu, they need to be.” If you’re looking for the next trendy wine region, Portugal is it, as it experienced a 21% rise in the first half of 2014. Another hot trend? Boxed wines and wine on tap. Finally, for those uncertain how to deal with the increase in popularity of screw tops over traditional corks, Maia suggests presenting the bottle to the guest and then opening the bottle away from their table. We can certainly all raise a glass to the tips Maia offered during her NCB 2015 seminar.

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