THE BEVERAGE NETWORK:
is a favorite current pairing from your
menu and list?
Jerk-grilled salmon with
Jamaican banana butter and Eroica dry
What kind of wine promotions do
Tuesday is cheap bottle night, Wednes-
day is 20% off wines over $60. We think we
have great prices every day though.
What are some wines that have
done especially well for you by the glass?
Conn Creek Cab, Laurenz Grüner Veltliner.
What software system do you use?
Excel for inventory, and I do the list
using Pages. Pages is simple and clean,
yet powerful. (I’m a long time Mac geek.)
How many distributors do you
do business with?
All of them! Everyone has something
special to offer. Although I tend to work with
the big three a lot right now. It comes down
to relationships with reps, a love of particu-
lar wineries or winemakers, as well as the
simple “best wine for the price” theory.
Do you have a routine for manag-
ing your wine orders?
Tuesday during the day. I look at
what’s low, what’s moving, what isn’t….
Then I evaluate and tweak the lists, fea-
ture wines and wine flights to suit that
week’s situation. I place orders weekly,
by text. I like having my sent orders eas-
Do you have a strategy for
displaying wines at the restaurant?
There isn’t much “display” space. Ba-
sically just the reds by the glass.
You must get varied levels of
wine experience among your guests.
I’d say we attract three different
types of wine drinkers. 1. I-Know-What-
I-Like (nothing new there!). 2. The Blank
Slate, who will try anything, just not too
expensive. 3. The Cork Dork, searching
for something new and will pay for it. My
goal is to make all three types happy.
How is the success of your wine
Customer satisfaction and profitability
are tantamount, but it’s a simple balance
of inventory, sales and expenditures. Since
wine isn’t perishable like food, it takes a
year for a program to show its worth.
What tips do you find yourself
frequently telling your staff?
Read the labels on the back of the
bottle, Google any questions, read the
wine bibles on hand when you’re slow.
Taste, taste, taste with others on the staff
and hear how they describe the wine.
Tweak words like “sour” into tart, and
“fruity” into fruit-forward. Simple stuff really.
What are some other wine lists/
programs that you admire?
Empire State South in Atlanta has
a cool menu. Ravenous Pig in Orlando.
Mise En Place, Sideberns and Cru Cel-
lars are all doing great stuff in South Tam-
pa. Also in Tampa, Bern’s is, of course,
legendary and mind-boggling. I just wish
I didn’t work nights so I could go enjoy
them. Every wine buyer must finesse a list
that they would want to drink from while
also creating one that appeals to a broad
range of tastes.
Tampa’s Wine Oasis
Craig Dean, Wine Director/Manager,
The Wine Exchange, Tampa, FL
BY W. R. TISH
he Wine Exchange, in Tampa’s Hyde Park Village, is a relaxed bistro and
wine bar that conjures up the feel of sidewalk cafés in Europe. Catering
to a diverse clientele, the two-decades-strong spot serves up a menu
and list, with 40 wines by the glass. Under the direction of Craig Dean, the
staff is well-versed enough to talk the wine talk with aficionados, or to suggest
simple sippers to accompany a sandwich. A nice selection of half-bottles and
some obscure cellar gems help elevate the Wine Exchange well above street
level in terms of wine appeal.
Selections on the wine list:
Bottles in inventory:
Price range of list:
Average bottle price:
Sweet spot on list:
Wine list strengths:
Diversity of grapes
Wines by the glass:
40, rotating about
every six weeks
Price range by the glass: