It may sound obvious to people in the trade who are passionate about food and wine, but food and wine pairing has become big-and we mean really big-among the public, according to Irish Guild of Sommeliers President and Gold Medal Awards Judge Mary O’ Callaghan. She has noticed an explosion in initiatives to develop food and wine matches over the last couple of years as diners become increasingly more knowledgeable about wine. The days of ordering red for meat and white for fish are over, notes Mary. ‘Diners today want to be more adventurous and order wines that will compliment their meal. They’re interested in regions and varietals more than ever and they’re looking to try something different. This gives restaurants a great opportunity to engage with their customers’.

The most tried and tested methods for increasing wine sales is through promotions such as wines of the month or week, glass of the day, and so on, says Mary.” We know from sommeliers internationally, as well as here in Ireland, that promotions such as these really do work”. To maximise the appeal of your wine promotions, choose something a little different to the norm, she says. ‘Restaurateurs are becoming much more adventurous in the wines that they offer and consumers are responding to that. In the busy days of the Celtic Tiger some restaurateurs perhaps would have gone for the lazy option and would have chosen the same wines all the time. maybe from one supplier where they had only one cheque to pay at the end of the month. But today, people are putting more effort in. They’re working with a number of suppliers and they’re looking for something more unusual’.

Crafting a more exciting wine list also gives you more to talk about, and opens up a world of opportunities for further promotional activities. Not everyone will have expansive cellars, but simple initiatives such as wine clubs, wine tastings and dinners with talks from winemakers or suppliers are within everyone’s reach and can provide ample opportunity to open your business to a whole new audience.(2011).

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