English Wine Week: 10 minutes with Jascot's Miles MacInnes

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 29th May 2015
Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year we spoke to marketing director Miles MacInnes of specialist trade wine merchants Jascots about English Wine Week, how they set themselves apart with their extensive wine training and how he feels it’s critical to have at least one person at all times on the floor of a restaurant with wine knowledge. National Theatre Wine - 030Starting in the company in 2006 Miles always had an interest in wine and before and after his degree worked within high street wine chains before joining Jascots which he didn’t initially know a lot about. He said: “All I knew was that the chairman had an Aston Martin and that was enough of a sign of success for me. I didn’t know a lot as it’s a small company and a little bit behind the scenes but I did have an interest in wine.” Although there are lots of wine merchants in the UK Miles believes that “there isn’t anyone who is as committed and focused”. He explains: “Lots of people are doing good wine but I don’t think there is anyone who is as committed and focused to their own sector as we are. Our clients are restaurants, caterers and hotels, so we’re more or less unique in our business for just doing that sector.” With their 25th year coming up it’s not just about selling wine for Jascots as they offer extensive training for their clients and those wanting to learn about the product they are buying. Miles said: “At the start we offered the sort of training that most merchants provided, taste and explanation of wine, but it’s evolved to now being delivered by sommeliers or someone that has experience beyond trade sector, it’s also more practical-based. “Our training became proper training and not just explanations.”IMG_4429 The training has naturally evolved as more restaurants and the industry are putting just as much emphasis on the wine as the food and know that they need someone who can deliver a great service when serving that wine. Miles believes that this has “caused a real issue” in the front of house teams as without the training there has been “a skills gap”. He explains: “Our food and wine is amazing and can match with anyone in the world but our service lags behind a little bit. “There was a real need for not just wine knowledge but hospitality knowledge, product care and service to make the experience for the guest better and bring that front of house service up to standard.” The training Jascots offers is “90% undertaken in the client’s own workplace” as they aim to fit around service times and shift patterns. Miles however explains that it is better this way as “it helps with the practical skill element of the course”. He said: “People can practice in their place of work which makes it feel more natural and much more relevant. three-choirs-classic-cuv-e-sparkling-nv-gloucestershire-england.1342.full“But for the examined courses like WSET (Wines and Spirits Education Trust) we have people that come to our facility so they can study properly, which is required by any regulated qualification. “We have got quite a few people that can train: we’ve got a couple of sommeliers, two who are approved WSET trainers and a third in training now, we also employ account managers who have managed restaurants. We’ve got a really nice blend with experience that we use as appropriate for training and modules.” From waitresses to event managers the mix of people undertaking this training is vastly varied but something that Miles believes is key to those at entry level, he explains: “We like helping those who have just got in to the industry so we can be alongside them through their career and our clients really like that too. We like to start at the entry level and follow it through whenever we can.” Miles feels that a business must have knowledge on wine if they’re trying to deliver a quality experience. He said: “If you’re a quality operator and if you’re trying to deliver a quality experience to your customer it is absolutely critical you have, at the very minimum, one person on the floor at all times with knowledge on that wine.” However Jascots found that this wasn’t the case when they recently commissioned a survey for London restaurant goers. Miles said: “The survey asked how they find the experience of drinking wine in restaurants and the results were quite disturbing actually.Jascots Wine Training-26 “People find wine is served at the wrong temperature, the sparkling wines aren’t fizzy and out of condition, the staff don’t know what wine to offer and I think there are some operators, not our clients, who don’t understand how engaged people are with wine. “So yes, training is absolutely critical.” It is a hope that with more training it will lead to further knowledge on the fact that England does produce great wine and that it’s not all about the French offerings. Miles said: “No, there isn’t enough awareness on English wine. “It is growing, and in terms of how fast the wine market evolves the awareness of English wine has grown pretty fast, but it’s got a long way to go and it will get there. In the next five years people will realise that we are making sparkling wine in this country and that it is every bit as good as champagne. “You’ll start to see that every good restaurant and good venue will have English wine on their wine list and that’s going to really explode people’s awareness of it. So it’s growing really fast but it’s got some way to go yet.” Of course French wine can’t be ignored as Miles says: “It’s not that wine in France is any better than elsewhere but it’s the wine culture in France that is so varied. There are six or seven wine regions that are really distinct and all make world-class wine, of quite different styles.” Jascots logoBut with this week being English Wine Week Miles feels that weeks like this are important although feels that perhaps when we are celebrating food weeks that wine should be equally included. He said: “I don’t necessary think that we need lots of separate wine weeks, I think food and wine go well together so what I would like to see more of is during these foods week wine is included as an ingredient that goes alongside your food. “For Cheese Week we did a big thing of matching cheese with wine and making a splash, that’s a good opportunity that a lot of competitors are missing as people are so in love with. “If anything weeks like this give us something to work with and the engage our clients with. Even if it’s just calling our clients up and saying English Wine Week is coming up let’s make a bit of fuss about those English wines that you have on your lists.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 29th May 2015

English Wine Week: 10 minutes with Jascot's Miles MacInnes