Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dining in your accounts

If you are worth your salt in the wine business, you are very likely a big foodie. And if so, you have many great business relationships with chefs. You also dine out in these restaurants constantly. While it's always good form to be seen dropping some coin in your clients' restaurants, it's also a good idea to remain professional and the penultimate diner.

I can't begin to tell you how annoying wine sales people can be as a diner. I witnessed it firsthand as a buyer for many years, and I still see it today. It's easy to forget that you need to hold yourself a little differently than the rest of the population. Here is how to act as a diner (in case you don't know)
  • Bringing in wine? Ask first,and be sure to buy wine off the list as well. This is a show of respect, and common courtesy. Always, always, always offer a taste to the Somm/buyer/chef.
  • Don't order off menu. This is hard to resist. you know the chef, you how good they are, and you really want to impress your friends with special treatment. Don't ask. The flip side of course is, if they offer, then you are obligated to accept.
  • Don't get messy drunk. If this is such a no-brainer, how come I see this all the time?
  • No selling! This is also hard to resist. There's a reason you make your sales calls during off hours, get your business done during that time. Although, it's a good move to leave wine for the staff or chef to enjoy after you leave.
  • Don't make the chef leave the kitchen during shift They are busy, leave them alone.
  • Leave a business card Be subtle and gracious. If you behaved well, you should be sure to let them know who you are.
  • Be very careful about critiquing. Often a chef/ restaurateur will ask you for your input. Tread VERY lightly. There's a fine line between good feedback and hurt feelings.
  • Be the leader of your group. The way the group you are with behaves will reflect upon you. Be accountable.
  • Tip. Don't just tip, make it memorable for the service staff. Every single buyer was once a server,and many will judge you based on how you treat non-buyers in the restaurant.

Don't forget, just because you think you are off the clock, the chef/ buyer doesn't see that distinction. act appropriately.


  1. Excellent advice. There are actually fellow brand owners who shall remain nameless that we won't dine with anymore because they just don't get it. "hi I'm from x winery, how come my wine's not on your list?" NOT a great opening line.