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Looking ahead: Vincenzo Arnese, Alain Ducasse

Published:  26 July, 2022

With the first half of 2022 already history, Harpers asked key trade figures to highlight the current challenges, ongoing trends and opportunities

We continue our series with insights from Vincenzo Arnese, head sommelier, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.

How ‘back to normal’ are you as a business?

We can say that we are back to normal or at least very close to our normal level of business. This is very reassuring and positive.

How, if at all, have drinking habits changed post-lockdown?

One of the positive effects of lockdown is that it allowed many people to research and order their wines from home, so many have been experimenting and diversifying their knowledge. This reflects on the buying habits in the restaurant. We see more guests prone to try new wines and be guided to more obscure regions.

There has also been a more relaxed approach to what we might call the post-pandemic celebration dinner. As a result, we have experienced higher average spending compared to previous years.

How has the first half of 2022 been compared to the same period in pre-pandemic 2019?

The first half of 2022 was very encouraging with a very positive result, in some cases performing over and above the pre-pandemic years.

What were the highs and lows for your own business in the first six months of 2022?

For the first six months of 2022, the business was very steady and constant, we were able to manage the staff issues with a well-studied incentive plan.

What, currently, are the biggest challenges for the trade in general?

Currently, the main challenges for the trade are the exponential increase in costs in every sector and the difficulties in hiring staff.

What are your priorities and predictions business-wise for the second half of 2022?

There is a lot of optimism. We expect to achieve a solid performance: the priorities are retaining staff and increasing the quality of work even more.

What will the focus be on with regard to your portfolio and why?

Our portfolio is in constant evolution. The focus will be on preparing for the Christmas period and the total reopening of the hotel after refurbishment.

For you, what are the most significant emerging trends in the wine & spirits worlds?

Non-alcoholic options are becoming an important part of beverage choices. We also see many guests asking to try wines from less well-known regions like Greece, Portugal and South Africa.

What innovations in the drinks world do you believe will have the most impact going forward?

Devices like Coravin for sparkling wines can help reduce wastage and increase the offer. This is an innovative and well-received innovation.

Lastly, if you could make one change in legislation/red tape/tax tomorrow, what would you choose?

Abolishing any visa for hospitality workers coming from a foreign country.

Quick-fire questions:

France, Spain or Italy?


USA, OZ or South Africa?

South Africa

Cocktails or slow sipping spirit?

Slow sipping Spirit

English fizz or Champagne?


Go-to drink to watch with the tennis / football / rugby?

Ice-cold Guinness