April 12, 2024

A wine list should embody dynamism, adapting to the evolving tastes and preferences of guests while seamlessly complementing the culinary offerings of each dinner service. Beyond its gastronomic role, it significantly impacts the bottom line, exerting a substantial influence on profitability.

  • By country of origin or region – In many ways, this approach that focuses on by country of origin or region probably makes the most intuitive sense depending on the size of the wine list. The more regions that you add to your wine list, the more it begins to resemble a geographical atlas.
  • By varietal – The second most popular approach for organizing a wine list is based on varietal
  • Be aware that your guests might order one type of wine because it appears within a certain section (varietal) of your wine list but Chardonnay and Chardonnay are not the same in taste if one comes from let’s say Napa and the other one from Maconnais.
  • Build a structure for the list – determine how many wines you want in each varietal category (Don`t forget to consider the style of the food) and from which countries. You need to sell those wines, so watch also price points and not only brand names!
  • Analyze the current wine list and see what wines and categories are selling well.
  • Be conscious of the chef’s philosophy and the menu he/she prepares and create a list according to it!
  • Use customer feedback and suggestions to make better wine selections.
  • Explore alternate regions or lesser-known regions – the real skill is being creative.
  • Keep in mind to train the team on the floor about new wines you have selected! Invite the people involved in the restaurant operation (Bar, Restaurant, Kitchen and even Management) and make them part of the process, they will buy into your program and will help you sell it. They are the best advocates for your wine list – take notes on which wines are liked by the majority!
  • Compare or check out the wine lists of your competing restaurants. Pay attention to their pricing, special offerings, and how they have done the design!
  • Because vintages change and wines may not always be available to you – instead of having to rely on a printing company or any wine suppliers that offer it as part of customer service, create a list and print it out by your company!
  • Consider how many wines would be most effective by the glass but also keep in mind that the by-the-glass wine list often is a customer’s first impression of a restaurant!
  • Inform your wine reps that you plan to utilize for the creation of your wine list and ask them for loads of samples.
  • Avoid wines you can buy in the grocery store or supermarket down the road.
  • Choose carefully the presentation layer of your wine list – presentation is a means of communication!
  • Understand the 80/20 Rule: In the restaurant industry, the 80/20 Rule can be used to guide your selection of wines as well as the pricing of those wines. When applied to your wine list, the 80/20 rule suggests that the Top 20% of the wines on your wine list will account for 80% of the total sales. In other words, if your wine list has 100 wines on it, there will be 20 wines that are going to be your bestsellers. On those 20% train most of the staff on the floor the basics and do tastings with them.
  • Outstanding bottles of wine don’t have to come with an outstanding price tag.
  • The average markup is about three times the wholesale bottle price – others consider pricing about the cost – understand your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) – how much you paid for a bottle of wine, and then how much you need to sell it for to make a certain profit.
  • Make sure it is cheaper to buy the bottle than a few glasses of wine. If you have too many bottles of one brand in the cellar and it does not sell well? Give your guests an incentive to try that wine by the glass and price it €/$ 1 – €/$ 2 below comparable wines by the glass.

Conclusion: The challenge lies in the actual execution, often requiring a wine professional’s expertise to succeed. A “Wine Consultant” can indeed be instrumental in this regard! After all, does it always have to be an extensive list of 500 bins? Wine consulting harmonizes passion with pragmatism, where successful consultants blend expertise with business acumen.

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