About three weeks ago my Hotel Manager came to me and told me that I was going to be writing our spring wine menu; I’m sure you can imagine my excitement! This is the first time I’ve been able to take full control of what I would like to see on the menu and really understand what it takes to change a menu in a hotel atmosphere because it is much different than what I did at my previous job.
The first step was meeting up with Aaron to see what holes he felt we needed to fill on our list. This way, when I reached out to all of our vendors I could give them a list of exactly what I was looking to taste. I always like to value my vendors time just as much as I value my own so I try to be clear and to the point when I set up meetings with them. Here is the list of the changes we agreed to make:
- Bring on a new Social Hour white wine, currently offering a Spanish Macabeo/Chardonnay blend $6
- Drop the Prosecco and sub it with something else, currently offering Valdo Prosecco at $10 BTG
- Bring on a rose that will fill our Social Hour rose and BTG once Social Hour is over. $6/$9 will be the price
- Bottle only rose that is a little higher end and shows a different style of rose
- Sub out the Merlot BTG with something new and fresh, something Italian maybe? Currently offering Flora Springs Merlot at $13 BTG
- Sub out the Riesling for a new one of different style. Currently offering Dr. Loosen Riesling at $12 BTG
- Sub out the Rioja with a new Spanish wine, more well known producer. Currently offering Sierra Cantabria Rioja $12 BTG
The next big step was going to be reaching out to all of our vendors and setting up tastings of everything I wanted to change up. Before I actually reached out I had to put some thought into what regions and varietals would do well on the list that we currently don’t offer and would be a true representation of their region, especially for our BTG program. When we first opened, our list was so California heavy that it was annoying to a point. In addition to being California heavy, the list was also driven by big name wines that sell themselves (the Rombauers of the world). Don’t get me wrong, those types of wines are needed in certain areas on every wine list but it can’t be the whole list; so I had some research to do. After making some decisions, I reached out to my vendors and set up tastings.
During the tastings I like to make notes as I go of the color, nose, and palate, as well as any other necessary information I find interesting about the wine. Before I end the tasting, I let the rep. know what wines were my ‘take aways’ for the day so they know what to follow up on later. The tastings are a lot of fun but it can also be tiring on the palate if you have too many back to back. One of the days I had to schedule three tastings in a row because I had missed the two previous days of work due to the flu. So not only was I trying to recover from an illness (so my palate was a little funky) but then I had about 30 wines to taste in an hour. It was rather difficult to push through the last tasting but I did it.
One of the good things about tasting all of those wines back to back is that you get to compare and contrast different styles of wine of the same varietal or blend of varietals. Then, after all the tastings were complete, it was selection time! Below are the wines I chose to bring on:
- Our new Social Hour white wine would be Gazela Vinho Verde from Portugal, it will be listed for $6 BTG and $22 for a bottle
- To replace the Prosecco I chose a very expressive Cava that will be listed for $10 BTG and $38 for a bottle
- The Social Hour rose/BTG rose is going to be a Rose d’Anjou from the Loire Valley in France. It will be listed for $6 during Social Hour/ $9 BTG and $34 for a bottle
- For a rose by the bottle only I chose a beautiful rose from the Languedoc region of Southern France, it will be listed for $45
- I brought on a Gruner Veltliner from Wachau, Austria. It will list for $12 BTG and $46 for a bottle
- I changed up the Riesling from Dr. Loosen to Fess Parker from Santa Barbara County, $13 BTG and $50 for a bottle
- Instead of the Sierra Cantabria Rioja, I brought on E-4 Blend by Orin Swift, $13 BTG and $50 for a bottle
- I chose to drop the Merlot and sub Zenato Alanera, a Corvina blend from Veneto, Italy. It will be listed for $13 BTG and $50 for a bottle
After that whole process was complete I had to start working on updating the menus that we offer throughout the hotel which, if you’ve never had the pleasure of doing that before it’s quite a treat. It took me a while because not only was I adding brand new information but the formatting seemed to get weird every so many lines so I had to constantly tweak the formatting. Each menu ended up going through about four editing sessions before I was finally able to send the menus to print.
The final steps were upon me at last; I scheduled staff tastings, updated inventory sheets, ordered the wine and I was DONE! It was all a learning experience and I enjoyed it but the biggest victory to me was how well my staff performed at the tastings. They asked the right kind questions to help them sell the wines and they contributed valid tasting notes for the group to use on the floor.
I was so proud of myself for completing such a big project on time, no hiccups, and the staff and guests alike are really enjoying the new wines so I would say it was a huge success and I can’t wait to do it again in the fall!
I would just like to say thank you for following me on my journey to become a Master Sommelier, it means so much to have your support. Please be sure to leave a comment and subscribe to my blog so you can stay up to date on all of my latest adventures!