Build a Better Wine List: Part One

If you’re like me, wine plays a big role at picnics, cookouts, holiday dinners, date nights, and days that end in “y”. You probably have a good handle on grape varietals, food parings, and intensity. If you’re not like me, keep reading and learn how to build a better wine list for your restaurant, bistro, or bar.

A wine list, in its simplest form, is a sales tool. Alcohol is where the mark up is, and in some cases, the reason why a customer has even walked through your doors. A great wine list is helpful, organized, and user-friendly. Now, let’s begin!

Start by offering something for everyone. You don’t need an endless list of wines, but choose wisely among varietals, regions and price-points to suit all of your guests (Stay tuned for Build a Better Wine List: Part Two, where I give you a list of must have wines).

Most customers look at a wine list to find something interesting or something they recognize. Help them along by making your wine list organized and descriptive.

Providing a brief, textual synopsis of each bottle saves your servers time from having to explain each wine. It also saves them the embarrassment of not knowing wines well enough to explain them. Giving customers textual explanations like, “Bright fruit, silky with hints of cocoa” or “Full-bodied and intense, blackberry, with chocolate notes” allows them to sort through information they need without having to ask for it.

Give your wine list some direction. There’s no perfect way to organize your list, but think about listing your wines progressively by intensity, a useful tool for both connoisseurs and beginners alike.

Price your wine appropriately. Of course you want to sell bottles, but offer wine by the glass as well. Keep in mind; most glasses of wine are priced at $8, while bottles, which typically hold four glasses, are sold at $30. This can be an unexpected profit, and gives customers a chance to try something different without committing to an entire bottle.

Lastly, hold tastings and events. Offering wine tasting and food pairing events is a great way to bring in customers. Blog, tweet, and promote them on your website. Offer several wines accompanied by snacks or other well-matched items such as cheese or dessert. This gives your guests the ability to try something new without spending as much as they would for an entire entree and several glasses.

As always, Burkett Restaurant Equipment has everything you need to keep your establishment fully stocked. Check out our wine supplies here

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