Restaurants have been warned against using the current economic uncertainty to charge higher prices for wines. The Academy of Food and Wine (AFW) has called on the industry to be cautious about not driving customers away by up-selling on wines, coffees and deserts. It said that while a weaker market was pushing some restaurateurs to tell their staff to try to sell more to increase their spend and boost profits, this could have the opposite effect. The organisation advised the sector to focus on encouraging people to eat out by adding value through special menus focusing on seasonal dishes, price promotions on weekdays or at lunchtimes and extras such as free jugs of water. Nick Scade, director and chief executive of the Academy of Food & Wine, said: “Good staff should be in-tune with what a customer is willing to spend – particularly on a bottle of wine. “There will always be those customers that aren’t affected by the credit crunch, but most people are beginning to feel the pinch so have less money to spend when they eat out. “Trying to sell people extras – or a more expensive bottle of wine than they really want - could end up annoying them if it’s done insensitively. “The industry needs to respond to changing market forces to keep customers visiting restaurants.”