Wine list engineering explained by master sommelier

In the latest Academy seminar, Alma's Ciro Fontanesi focused on the basics of wine list creation and shared cellar management tips.

How do you create a wine list that speaks not only to a restaurant’s sense of place but also to its guests? How do you manage your liquid assets and ensure that your stock is stored and rotated correctly, so you are not left permanently under or overstocked, or with iconic wines that you can’t sell?

This was the subject of the latest Academy seminar, Wine list engineering, with master sommelier and Alma Wine Academy co-ordinator Ciro Fontanesi. Fontanesi, who has years of experience working in some of the world’s best restaurants and with the late great Italian master chef Gualtiero Marchesi, explained, in a detailed presentation, his top tips, pointing out: “The wine list is not just creating a drinks menu, it’s building a tool to maximise your profits.”

Breaking down the methodology behind wine lists, he emphasised the importance of “reading” clients and explained how chefs, together with sommeliers, can express themselves and the guiding principles of restaurants through them. “It’s important not just to compile a wine list with all of the most important wines, there needs be a valid philosophy,” he said.

He also touched on cellar management, before talking the members through some of his favourite restaurant wine lists, including those at Eleven Madison Park in New York and Le Calandre in Rubano, Italy.

Fontanesi was also available to answer questions from members in the group, following his presentation. Wine list engineering follows Fontanesi’s first seminar for the Academy, which focused on food and beverage pairing, and is part of an educational program that is helping to nurture the next generation of culinary talent. Through this program the Academy will teach, inspire and connect the world’s best young chefs with some of the most influential figures in gastronomy.

The seminars are available exclusively to members via the Academy’s private Facebook group, and soon, in a reserved area on the website.

Photo: Getty Images

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