The Grapevine

Luke Richardson is the sommelier at wine bar Le Di-Vin in Edinburgh. In his column for SLTN he shares his thoughts on all things wine-related and answers your questions about wine. If you have a question for Luke email it to

HELLO again, and welcome to the “new normal” – although I have to admit it still seems fairly alien to me.

I thought, as we find ourselves in these unprecedented times, that I would use this month’s column to talk a little about how to start the long road to recovery that our industry desperately needs.

Aside from the obvious signage and the necessity to sanitise absolutely everything, there are a few things you can do that will hopefully help your business to recover.

First of all, if you are printing drinks lists in house, make sure that your selection of wines on there are the ones with the highest GP – not necessarily the most expensive, but the wines that give you the biggest percentage profit return; this will help in the long run, and ensure the best return for your period of credit.

Secondly, try and sell more wines by the bottle.

It means less returns to the table for your staff and so less contact all round – and a higher value sale, most importantly.

Thirdly, little ‘offers’ like pairing a glass/carafe/bottle of wine with (ideally a cheap to produce) food can be appealing – remember that by law you cannot reduce the price of alcohol unless you plan to keep that reduction for three days. It is often easier to decrease the selling price of the food.

Next, and perhaps a little trickier, is to recommend higher acidity white wines, and lighter red wines – these essentially are far easier to drink and so disappear sooner, leaving the opportunity for that extra sale – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Valpolicella, Cotes du Rhone – that sort of thing.

Lastly, no matter how stressful this reopening may be, I think it is important now more than ever to concentrate on good service for your guests – this adds perceived value to their experience, and hopefully will ensure a repeat visit.

We are very lucky to have a loyal following here in Le Di-Vin, and we spend a little longer trying to ensure that they keep on being regulars!

Good luck!

Next month, back to some more specific wines – and, undoubtedly, a new “new normal”!