Wine selection is key to successful hotel F&B programs

Hotel food and beverage programs are faced with the constant challenge of bringing crowd-pleasing wines to guests of varying tastes and knowledge of wine.

“Wines with medium to low alcohol and oak tend to pair better with foods,” Winesellers Ltd. Vice President Jordan Sager tells SmartBrief. “Heavy oak wines will dominate and clash with different flavors. So try wines like sauvignon blancs, gruner veltliners, malbec, and pinot noir that are refreshing, fruit forward, or crisp with acidity.”

Sommelier Jay Madrid, formerly of Bernardus Lodge but now working at the restaurant Il Grillo in California, advises guests to ask for recommendations in this interview.

“See if there are any wines that they’ve just recently received that are not on the list,:" he says. "Usually these are the new discoveries from recent tastings.”

For luxury properties with a substantial wine budget, nothing beats an expansive wine cellar. The Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza, for example, stocks a wide variety of international and domestic vintages, as highlighted in Forbes. The property originally opened in 1976, and the hotel's Grill was included in a $68 million renovation last year. Notable wines available there include a 2011 Rioja Alta Abando and a 2013 cabernet sauvignon, Barnard Griffin, Columbia Valley, Ore.

On a practical level, Sager recommends “wines that are not overpoweringly sweet, dry or too weighty. Look for sparkling (cava or prosecco), crisp whites (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc), or lighter style reds (pinot noir or malbec) as they will compliment any food pairing.”

F&B programs often are disjointed when it comes to food and wine parings and how these enhance the dining experience.

“While every hotelier understands the basic principle of food and wine pairings, I've seldom seen anyone aside from executive chefs, sommeliers and F&B directors who wholly embrace the potential for one to augment the other and help to drive meal satisfaction as well as incremental purchases,” writes Larry Mogelonsky, owner of Hotel Mogel Consulting in this column for Hospitality Net.

“Maybe that's why these individuals reach the top of the ladder, but nevertheless it's our job as senior managers to pay that knowledge and passion forward to the entire team so they can in turn communicate that to your patrons,” he writes.

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