Guests at Rockafeller's in Virginia Beach don't need to be fluent in French to read the wine list. Heck, they barely even have to understand English, as the list offers phonetic pronunciations for every wine on it. Ranging from $5-$10 a glass, there are Shar-doe-nays, a Pee-no-Nwar, a Sher-oz, and a handful of Cah-bear-nay So-veen-yawns.
The wine intelligentsia may scoff, but owner B.J. Baumann says the user-friendly approach has boosted sales considerably at the casual seafood restaurant. "Wine sales are up around 23% since we redid the list," she says. "It's definitely having an impact."
Baumann overhauled the list after servers said guests seemed intimidated when it came to choosing wine, and reluctant to try something new. Besides the phonetics, she includes tips like Ignore the cork!, and plainspeak descriptions (one Chardonnay is described as "Ripe, smooth and complex. A dream of vanilla beans bubbling in butter.").
"We just wanted to make the wine experience non-threatening for everyday people who aren't connoisseurs," she says.