Wine Wisdom - we ask pubs for their tips on driving wine sales

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Tips on driving wine sales The Goose, Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire Tel: 01491 612 304 A 16th-century brick and flint roadside coaching inn in the...

Tips on driving wine sales

The Goose, Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire Tel: 01491 612 304

A 16th-century brick and flint roadside coaching inn in the Oxfordshire money belt near Reading, Henley and Maidenhead, the Goose is a pub on the rise. Its business is a 50:50 combination of passing trade and booked, although its recent acquisition of a Michelin star is likely to mean that those turning up on spec are increasingly going to be disappointed.

Key to the successful food has been the super-freshness of the ingredients rather than overpreparation in the kitchen. Crabs, scallops and so on are delivered live and prepared on site. The menu is relatively short, comprising six starters, six mains and desserts. Dishes are seasonal and change regularly.

Talking to chef/manager Michael North

Number of wines on the list: 120

House wines: No real house wines, but our menu is organised by country or region and we tend to have roughly one wine from each section by the glass - 20 or so in all, kept fresh with a VacuVin. We have so many by the glass because most of the people who come here have to drive and it's important to offer them something besides dry or medium white wine and an Aussie red. Prices range from £2.79 to £7.50.

Most expensive wine on list: 1998 Grand Puy Lacoste for Pauillac, £95.

Typical mark-up: 65% on cheaper wines. Once we get higher than £35, we work on a cash margin. The most popular parts of the list are £20-£30 for lunch and £30-£40 in the evening.

Most-used merchant: Berkmann

So plenty of good Italian wines, then? Yes - though they're not our biggest sellers.

What are your most popular wines? My personal favourite on the list is the Conde de Valdemar 1999 Reserva from Rioja, £7.50 a glass, £29.50 for a bottle. The quality and character are excellent.

Value regions/countries: South Africa for whites, especially Chenin Blanc, though we've a great Riesling from Buitenverwachting Wine Farm. For reds, Spain is still out there.

Trends you're seeing: Sauvignon Blanc is really popular, whereas a couple of years ago, everyone was after St Véran and Pinot Grigio. We also sell a lot of South African, both red and white.

Key to making wine sell? Making by-the-glass recommendations to people depending on what they're eating. We don't do it on the menu; the front-of-house staff know their stuff.

Do you run any events? We sometimes do gourmet evenings with a French theme, but not often. We're a pub and we do like people just coming in for a sandwich and a beer!

The Druid Inn Main Street, Birchover, Derbyshire Tel: 01629 650 302

An old country pub in rural Derbyshire, the Druid was closed for six weeks at the beginning of this year as the new owners set about modernising their purchase.

The pub is part of the Thyme mini-empire run by Richard Smith and Adrian Cooling.

Gastronomically, the Druid is more or less halfway between the other two outlets in the portfolio - a café and a top-end restaurant in Sheffield.

Clientele are a mix of locals and businesses with, in summer at least, an additional smattering of walkers, drawn to the traditional food given a modern twist.

As well as an impressive selection of back-vintages, the Druid also has a choice of areas in which to eat: a bar, relaxed and formal restaurants and a terrace, allowing customers to choose the right ambiance for their mood, with the same menu available in every location.

Talking to manager Helen Young

Number of wines on the list: 80. Seven Champagnes, three ports and three dessert wines. The rest are split between red and white.

Wines by the glass: Ten - the five red and five white house wines.

Most expensive wine on list: Chateau Palmer 1988 at £140, though we did sell a bottle of Cristal recently to an artist for £150.

Most-used merchant: We only use one - House of Townend.

Typical mark-up: About 70% on the house wines; cash margin on the more expensive wines.

Best value regions/countries: It varies, but we think France is coming back.

Most popular wines: Le Charme Sauvignon Blanc has been massive for us, but all the classic French regions in our house wines - the Sancerre and the Chablis and so on - go well.

Trends you're seeing: There's a move back to the Old World. Pinot Grigio sales are tailing off and people want less or no oak in their whites. France is doing well.

Key to making wine sell? Good staff. It really helps if they know even the basics.

Do you run any events? Our sister restaurants have done them and we're just finalising the preparations for the first one at the Druid - the food and wines of the Loire. There's been a lot of interest.

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