How can I begin educating wait staff about sake?
Although customers will get sake information from the sake menu, the wait staff needs to know how to recommend sake to customers. The restaurant does not always need to have a sake sommelier, but the customer expects to be able to get answers from the wait staff. Inquiries may include things such as how to select the best matching sake for a particular dinner.
The following points would be useful for the wait staff to know.
Sometimes the customer wants to try sake just because of the region. Perhaps the customer comes from a particular locale or may have visited there once. Knowledge of the region can stimulate conversation between the customers and the wait staff.
B: The customer's favorite tastes
The wait staff can ask two questions to help the customers decide what they want in a sake. First, they should ask what kind of taste they seek, whether 'light' or 'rich?' Secondly, they should inquire about serving temperature, whether a customer prefers 'chilled,' 'room temperature,' or 'warm.' At this point, the wait staff can ask customers about their favorite tastes, but also should be able to recommend the serving temperature for a specific type (See How and why sake should be enjoyed at different temperatures)
C: Food matching
This is a crucial area in terms of information. Of course the wait staff knows the restaurant's menu for each course, especially their daily specials or recommendations. The matching sake 's change according to the course, so it is better to know which dish would be fitting for which sake before talking to the customer. If the wait staffs already know their favorite dishes and the matching sakýÒ, that knowledge would make it easier to recommend specific brands to their customers.
A knowledgeable wait staff is vital to a restaurant's success. Having an incentive system in place for sales of sake made by wait staff may also prove beneficial to overall success.
How can I construct a sake menu?
We recommend that the sake menu contain at least six key points:
1: S.M.V. - Dry or Sweet
2: Tasting note - Rich or light
3: Recommended serving temperature - Warmed / Room Temperature / Chilled
4: Food pairing suggestions - Before Dinner / Appetizer / Main Dish / After Dinner
5: Category - Honjozo / Junmai / Junmai Ginjo / Junmai Daiginjo
6: Geographic region - Niigata, Hyogo, Akita, etc.
Obviously the customer will order more if the recommended sake tastes good. Restaurants need to educate their customers on how to use the six points while ordering. For example, "I would like to have a clean and dry type of chilled Junmai Ginjo for my appetizer please!"
An important factor in a restaurant's success with sake sales is keeping a wide variety on hand.