A Beautiful Sunset over a Barossa Vineyard

In Vino Veritas XLII: Biodynamic Wines

One topic discussed in a previous series was organic wines and how they may be leveraged to enhance alcohol sales through their health and wellness appeal. Given that January is the month of dietary pledges and austere new regimens, the time is ripe (pun intended!) to talk a little about biodynamic wines and their prospects as another weapon in your F&B arsenal.

Essentially, this is organic taken to the nth level with soil, plant and livestock health all considered ecologically interlinked. And the numbers reflect the obscurity of this practice as there are only some 450 wine producers worldwide following biodynamic practices.

It all revolves around what is best for the health of the soil, especially during the off-months when the grapevines are hibernating. Key principles include diverse crop rotations, a lack of herbicides or pesticides, the use of cover crops and the cultivation of green manures to enrich mineral content and soil carbon dioxide levels. There’s also a spiritual undercurrent to biodynamic agriculture whereby certain protocols dictate that ground quartz be dispersed over the terrain and stuffed animal horns be buried under the earth.

While appealing to a customer’s desire for sustainable practices is a good angle, its effects will be muted because a vineyard’s overall health is not a primary reason to buy wine. The leading question is: Does the wine taste good? And the answer for biodynamic labels is increasingly affirmative in this regard, both from blind taste tests and from my own personal experiences.

In the end, though, writing in the word ‘biodynamic’ next to a bottle on the wine list is nothing more than a conversation starter and a modifier label to induce more sales. While the latter point is quite straightforward, it’s the former one that interests me more. If a patron asks what is implied by biodynamic, this is a green light for the server or bartender to launch into concise story and, importantly, to build rapport with said guest.

Meal satisfaction is more than just the food on the plate; it’s the furnishings, the sounds, the service, the crowds and the personal relationships formed with staff. A running current throughout this ‘In Vino Veritas’ series has been to educate your team and make sure that they are passionate about wine, so that they can boost alcohol sales, but also so that they can add another dimension to the dining experience. And given the correlation between how a guest feels about their meal and their overall satisfaction with the hotel, it goes without saying that augmenting the dining experience should be a consummate goal.

(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published in Hotels Magazine on January 26, 2016.)

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