Q&A with Emma Tomkins of Vroni’s
The finalists in the 2018 Scottish Bar & Pub Awards Wines by the Glass category have now been revealed and the concept itself is something we have championed for many years. Paradoxically it’s the pursuit of the unfamiliar that is becoming increasingly popular with consumers. It’s all about the experience and, as market research continues to show us, people are spending more to try to achieve a memorable drinking experience. It’s quality over quantity, however: spending more but drinking less. This change in behaviour opens up an ideal opportunity for operators to diversify their wine lists without over-exposing themselves by offering premium wines by the glass. Trial is at the heart of wine enjoyment for both the novice and the aficionado and there’s no better way to explore the many different varieties of wine, and learn at the same time. We quizzed Emma Tompkins, operations manager at 2017 winners Vroni’s on what it takes to create an award-winning range of wines by the glass.
1. How many wines do you offer by the glass and how is your list split? e.g. by colour, by style, by price point
We have 16 wines, three sparkling and two champagnes all by the glass. We have six individually-themed wine flights each comprising three wines selected by style or region or because they express a certain characteristic (e.g. fresh, fruity).
2. When you set about creating your wines by the glass list, what were your main considerations?
The biggest consideration is creating a balance of some new and different without taking away the old favourites that people want. We try and create a balance of traditional wines and something a bit different – our account manager, Guy helps us with this.
3. How often do you review your by the glass list and how has it evolved over the years?
We try and change parts of the list every few months to move with seasonal changes and demands. We do a full list change once a year.
4. Do you find that consumers now demand greater diversity of wines by the glass? If yes, explain.
I think people are more interested in exploring different wines now. It’s interesting to watch trends come and go, at the moment there is a demand for semi-sparkling wines and some classics have also made a comeback.
5. What are your best sellers and why?
It is still all Prosecco, Prosecco, Prosecco for us, although we like to think it’s on its way out Prosecco is still our no1 ‘bar call’…for now!
6. What wines really get your customers excited?
We have had Romanian wines on for a few years now but it still gets the customers excited.
My dad is a big fan of Austrian wines and I always try and keep some on our list – a lot of our customers are not so familiar with these and it is a good way to interact and get people trying new wines. Currently, the Tinhof 2015 Neuburger (Burgenland) sells well because, well, it’s so good (in my opinion)!
7. What would be your top tips to other operators looking to establish a range of wines by the glass?
I don’t know if this would apply in other establishments but we have tried to remove some wines by the glass that we find are a ‘safe go to’. This is to try and encourage our customers to try wines they wouldn’t normally have. For example, I won’t sell Pinot Grigio by the glass – we like to engage with our customers and would invite them to try other dry white wines or to ask the staff for recommendations.
8. Name your desert island wine
Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut! Or a Grüner Veltliner