10 Tips to Creating a Good Wine List

Did you know that carefully compiling a balanced wine list for your establishment will not only ensure your clientele has a range of wines to choose from, but will almost guarantee to boost your sales?

We’ve put together some handy tips to keep in mind when creating or updating your venue’s wine list to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck!

  1. Source a reputable supplier. Make sure the wines you choose are going to be of consistent quality and supply. A reputable wine supplier will always be your best bet.
  2. Include something to suit every taste. You don’t need to have hundreds of wines on the list to be able to cater to everyone – this can often lead to overstocking and wastage. Balance your list by having a variety of wines available at different price points.
  3. Taste the wine you plan on putting on the list, preferably with other staff and management. This will allow you to make sure they not only of high standard, but will ensure you know how they will complement your menu items.
  4. Don’t intimidate guests by an overly long, complex or expensive list of wines. It has to be approachable.
  5. Include a combination of both recognisable and boutique wines to give guests the comfort of familiarity as well as the option to try something new.
  6. Choose wines suited to your menu. Wines for an Asian restaurant will be quite different to those suited to an Italian restaurant. Know your menu and choose wines that will bring out the best features of both food and wine.
  7. Have wines available by the glass. Guests may not always want to commit to buying a whole bottle – especially if the wine is new to them, or if they have to drive home.
  8. Consider including wine matching suggestions on your menu. This often increases sales and initiates conversation about wine and food pairing between customers and staff.
  9. Make sure your wines are explained clearly. Include the name of the wine, region and a short sentence about how it tastes along with the price on your wine list.
  10. Make pricing consistent. What you charge for a bottle should be glass price x 4, minus $1. This encourages guests to order a bottle as it makes it more economical, with an added bonus of it being more efficient for your staff.

And remember to regularly monitor sales to see what is working well for your restaurant and adjust your wine list accordingly. For example, if you notice your sales of white wines considerably outweigh those of red then consider offering customers a greater variety of white varietals. And don’t be afraid to update your wine list when the season or your menu changes. Keeping it fresh will keep it interesting for both your customers and staff!

Once you’ve got your wine list in place it is imperative to train your staff to know it front to back! If you would like a handy reference for training staff, see our article on Serving & Presenting Wine.

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