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American Sommelier:Transitioning Your Wine List Between Seasons

Posted on  | July 23, 2013   Bookmark and Share
Written by |

Andrew Bell

As a wine buyer, one of your main responsibilities to your employer is fiscal. Throughout the year, it is important to maintain an inventory level that is as low and slim as possible, so that the majority of revenue from wine sales is being applied to business operating expenses. Never is this more challenging than in the transition between seasons.

When the chef is looking to update the menu to incorporate seasonally appropriate produce and protein, you must also be preparing to make changes. New dishes will create new pairing opportunities, calling for updates to your wine list. While seemingly basic, without careful inventory planning this transition can become unnecessarily burdensome and expensive. Being long on seasonal items from deep, late-in-the-season purchases, for example, will hamper your ability to move into new items from both a space and budgetary perspective.

Advance Planning is Key

Prepare for the transition by keeping track of weekly depletions throughout the season. This will allow you to accurately project needs per item—particularly in a by-the-glass program.  Communicate with your chef to establish approximate timing of the anticipated menu change well in advance, giving yourself a good idea of when the wine program transition will need to be complete.  

The data you have collected on rates of usage will enable you to plan an appropriate purchasing schedule, allowing last season’s wines to run out on chef’s timeline, making room for new seasonal stock without significant overlap.

Pay close attention to those random bottles of last season’s stock that don’t sell prior to the changeover. They may seem like no big deal, but these extras can add up over the course of the year leading to both lost sales and non-recuperated cost…a double loss!

Reduce this avoidable expense by sharing a list of one- or two-offs with your staff, so that the sales team keeps them top of mind when on the floor. With everyone working to sell these last bottles, you are less likely to stockpile dust collectors in the cellar and expense on the books.


About American Sommelier

American Sommelier—whose mission is to cultivate awareness, understanding, and appreciation for wine—offers a comprehensive curriculum of wine education and provides a range of benefits to its members. The organization also hosts seminars, tastings, and networking opportunities to enhance knowledge and skills and to promote a vibrant wine community.

Classes, held in Manhattan, include several in-depth series (24-week Viticulture & Vinification Course; 16-week Blind Tasting Course; 6-week Foundation Course) as well as seminars focused on sales, service and buying and topical one-time classes. Instructors include some of America’s most knowledgeable sommeliers—Roger Dagorn, Joe Campanale, Yannick Benjamin and Hristo Zisovski among them.

Andrew Bell, co-founder and president of American Sommelier, has experienced all sectors of the wine industry since first working in San Francisco in 1987 alongside famed hotelier and restaurateur Bill Kimpton. His career has also included positions in Paris and New York City, in importing and consulting as well as at restaurants. With a team of like-minded peers, Bell founded American Sommelier in 1998.

American Sommelier member benefits include discounted tuition, free members-only events, career guidance, discounts at partner restaurants, bars and shops, and the American Sommelier newsletter. For complete details and a calendar of classes, visit americansommelier.com or call 212.226.6805.


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