It was twelve years ago that Matthew Clark constructed and trademarked Wine Expression. Designed to segment wines into recognisable styles, it provides a great framework with which to build a wine list.
It was developed in response to research we carried out with consumers, our customers and three masters of wine, to produce a better taste classification system to replace the existing ‘Style Guide’ key with its limited functionality.
Since then we have been delighted to see how our customers have embraced it and how further research into consumer behaviour has confirmed its usefulness. Examples of this later research include Gérard Basset’s 2008 work for his MBA (he was already a Master of Wine and Master Sommelier at the time) which noted that consumers believed geographically arranged lists ‘indicated that the restaurant knew the least about wine’. The 2011 Wine Intelligence On-Trade Report which stated that 44% of customers prefer a wine list arranged ‘by style’ descriptors, 29% ‘by variety’ and only 19% preferred a list arranged ‘by country’ also gives clear direction.
It’s all about communication and reducing the customer’s perceived risk; if they understand what the wine tastes like from the wine list’s framework, they will be more adventurous and buy better quality wines – delivering more profit. If they don’t understand the wines, the consumer often defaults to buying on price – often selecting the cheapest or second cheapest option.
A wine list arranged by Wine Expression delivers another front-of-house advantage; be it in the hands of service staff or guests, it acts as a training document to help with providing recommendations and focused information. Removing the perceived risk and empowering the consumer to buy better wines will deliver the business more profit.