Hospitality Business Magazine

The wine anti-snob

?????????One of the world’s most widely recognised leaders in developing wine marketing and education that breaks down barriers hindering the enjoyment of wine, says consumer buyer behaviour in cafés and restaurants is one of the most poorly understood dimensions of hospitality today.

Tim Hanni was a guest presenter at W&F last month, an annual food event run by the Auckland-based New Zealand School of Food & Wine, where he told his audience when it comes to wine lists, consumers must be engaged on an individual and personal level.

“But many of the assumptions we have about personal wine preferences are just downright wrong, especially in the realm of sweet wine lovers,” says Hanni.

Called “The Wine Anti-Snob” by The Wall Street Journal, Hanni originated the now-familiar concept of the Progressive Wine List embraced by the world’s leading chefs, restaurateurs, and hotels worldwide. Wines are organised by their intensity of flavour rather than geographic origin, empowering staff and customers to select wines according to taste preferences.

“The biggest mistake is excluding sweet wines for the many consumers who are genetically predisposed to love sweet wines. There’s a common practice of focusing too much on obscure wines and personal favourites, and not considering the entire spectrum of consumer preferences.”

Another peeve of Hanni’s is the overemphasis on wine and food pairing; he recommends matching the wine to the diner, not the dinner, and his main message to hospitality operators is to “spend more time thinking about your customer and what they really want, not what you think they should have.”

Hospitality professionals are advised to develop guest personas. “These follow a personal process of looking at who has their butts on seats in your restaurant: find out why they are there and what wines they are passionate about, THEN write your list.”

Pushed to give a favourite wine and food pairing, Hanni extols dilled pickle and a really strong, tannic red wine. “Seriously – try it. The pickle will render the wine smooth, rich and delicious. Sour cornichons or gherkins were once de rigueur as food garnish in France. This is not accidental.”