Offering food pairing suggestions and personally curated, hand-delivered wine bundles, Liinaa Berry's wine delivery service brings restaurant sommelier service to your door.
Liinaa Berry launches somm-to-you wine delivery service Wine Convive
SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 ADELAIDE
As the hospitality industry was forced into shutdown this week, swathes of the workers within the industry were immediately left without work.
One such worker was Liinaa Berry, who has recently taken a job at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant as head sommelier, and was working toward the release of the restaurants new wine program.
Following the announcement that all restaurants must convert to takeaway or close, this was obviously put on hold.
Faced the prospect of a tonne more downtime than she’s used to, Liinaa has instead created Wine Convive – a new remote sommelier and wine delivery service, making full use of her knowledge and passion for her profession.
“With this new service, the strategy for me is to be able to find wines that I would drink myself, that is affordable,” Liinaa says.
“I’m incredibly lucky that I’ve had access to great, artisan, hard-to-find wines throughout my five years of my career in Australia. So I’m able to find tasty wines for people at a much lower price.
“The way that we sommeliers can still work and still practice our passion – because otherwise we’re going to be fucking bored – is to find a way to still do that, to still be able to recommend wines, but then deliver wines to the person that ordered the wines.”
Wine Convive will see Liinaa deliver a case of six wines (priced from $150), with a personally curated selection of local, national, or international wineries. The pack will also come with tasting notes and access to The Wine Convive’s Instagram account, which will have videos with tasting sessions from Wine Convive’s selection.
The first Wine Convive bundle was delivered on Wednesday, 25 March, and included drops from Charlotte Dalton, Hither & Yon, La Petite Mort, CRFT and Between Five Bells.
“You can just send me an email, and you’re like, ‘Liinaa, I need a bundle, but I can spend $180,’” she explains.
“I know a lot of people and I know how they like to drink, I know their tastes, so they can come back to me and say, ‘I just want reds, or amber or rosé,’ they can request any styles and I’ll come deliver these wines to them, knowing very well how much they will enjoy the booze.
“It’s exactly what I do in a restaurant – I greet the guests, have a quick chat, come back with a bottle or two, discuss a few seconds and pour them the wine almost immediately, because they trust me, and they are happy with the wine 99.9% of the time.
“Through Wine Convive, I am still doing the same thing, but with the wine delivered to their home. I get a kick from the instant gratification I feel when I pick the right wine for my guest – the positive feedback always feels like a mini victory I always carry with me.
“I also get to keep being in touch with wine producers and small distributing companies who are working with very special wines, these wines need a new home now that restaurants are closed.”
For those in the market for a premium-priced bundle, and if the patron is keen on the full sommelier experience, Liinaa says in addition to top-shelf wines, she will also offer live tasting sessions over Instagram.
“I’m just entertaining people. We need this at home, man. Everyone’s going online and all they’re looking at at the moment is all about the virus, and I think it’s time for us to have a bit of sense of humour, just to take things a little bit easier,” Liinaa says.
“It’s a way to keep in touch, as well… When you go to your wine bar, when you go to your favourite restaurant, those encounters, they actually are important, and that’s what I want to offer.”
She has also worked alongside Chefs on Wheels, and has some pre-selected bundles that pair with menu items on offer from the service.
In light of the near full-scale shutdown of Australia’s hospitality industry, Liinaa has been left particularly exposed. She has worked in Australia for the last five years as a skilled migrant, and, with no Federal Government income assistance yet confirmed, it is a precarious position to be in.
But Liinaa stresses to CityMag that Wine Convive is not a crisis-born concept and she had been working on the idea for some time. The coronavirus pandemic has just made it a reality sooner than expected.
She’s also adamant that Wine Convive is, more than being about profit, is first and foremost a platform for community and connection.
“Yesterday I was sitting down, and I talked with two or three of my mentors, they really helped me polish the idea, and I sort of panicked and had that adrenaline,” Liinaa says.
“But that adrenaline, I turned it into a good thing. I’m going to do something out of that. Because it’s a new situation and we have to adapt.”
The platform will also exist beyond Adelaide. Liinaa is opening up Wine Convive to other sommeliers in Melbourne and Sydney, who will be repping on the road delivering wines and creating content to keep engaged with their customers.
Former Magill Estate sommelier Deeraj Bhatia, who won Best Sommelier of Australia last year and is now based in New South Wales, on board and representing Sydney as of next week.