If you are preparing a new wine list or updating your selection, there are key elements that you must get right. At Menutech, we have helped restaurants and wine bars make more than 5,000 wine lists around the world: here are 13 key learnings we made along the way.
1. Start with 2 to 12 different wines "by the glass"
Even if the wines you sell By The Glass (BTG) are cheaper and meant for the majority of your guests, you should choose them attractively and wisely. They are the first page your customers will see. Therefore, they act as an anchor in terms of pricing and taste.
- Your BTG section must include typical wines from your region along with the wines that are most popular to your guests.
- Both the glass and bottle prices are displayed in the BTG programme, but don't show the BTG price in the other sections of your wine list.
2. Don't be afraid to organise your wine list in sections, sub-sections, sub-sub-sections, ...
Only a thoughtful structure will make your wine list clear and captivating for your customers.
A thoughtful outline will help your guests better navigate and direct their attention.
Typically, the perfect wine list will balance between 3 factors:
- Sparkling, rosé, white and red wines: achieve a perfect blend to offer something special for all customers.
- Areas and countries: your offer should not only include foreign wines and should have local relevance too.
- Price structure: make sure to offer wines in the higher price segment, which primarily act as price anchors. This will help you achieve a higher average selling price, regardless of whether you do actually sell the most expensive wines.
You can also be creative here: Highlight popular and unusual wines or create a section dedicated to your favorites.
3. Decorate your wine list with a beautiful design and matching logo and images
It's not just the content that counts. A wine list becomes attractive through various graphic elements that appeal to your customers.
Make sure that the design you choose reflects your style and corporate identity. The images must be high quality (minimum 300 dpi for print, and 72 dpi for digital wine lists) to best engage the customer.
Only a wine list decorated with your logo, or images and symbols is complete. At Menutech, we make it possible to create your perfect wine list with more than 30 customisable styles. Focus on the content, and let Menutech take care of the rest.
4. More is more: Keep your wine list complete and up to date (especially the vintages)
Of course, it is important to have a wide assortment, but you should not overdo it. Your customers should not get lost in the wine list. Your should find the right balance between:
- typical and popular grape varieties of your region (for wine lovers discovering your region)
- international wines (for those who want to try something new and exotic).
Be sure to keep your wine list up to date, as your vintages and prices change regularly. The wine list must be consistent with the wine cellar, to avoid any surprises in front of your guests.
5. Keep your purchase price in mind, and keep tracking the NEW sales prices
To ensure that you make a profit on the sale of your wines, it is essential to constantly monitor the purchase prices, as well as the new sales prices. Prices change constantly depending on the popularity, success of the wine and the vintage.
Menutech offers you an automated profitability analysis report to keep an eye on the profit margins of your assortment at all times.
6. Descriptions are optional, but grape varieties are an absolute must
Depending on your customer profile, you should consider whether and how to describe your wines.
If you receive many wine experts in your restaurant, the description with the proportions of the grape varieties is sufficient. Many wine lovers are familiar with the international grape varieties and know what flavours and aromas they develop.
With wine consumption increasing every year, more and more people are venturing into the world of wine. Wine novices need more help to navigate through your wine list. Below are some suggestions to help your guests place their order with confidence:
- Adding a wine description using understandable parameters, such as sweet, sour, dry, fruity.
- Organising wines according to parameters, such as fresh and fruity, full-bodied.
- Introducing food pairings: the vocabulary used to describe food is far more familiar than wine bouquet terminology.
7. Label organic & bio-dynamic wines, as they are quickly becoming the new norm
For today's informed consumer, organic and biodynamic wines play an important role. Clearly label these wines on your wine list. It is not yet a legal requirement to label organic and biodynamic wines, but this may happen sooner than you think.
8. Follow the winemaking trends, but don't loose your audience
It is important that you also follow the latest trends and also include some wines about them in your assortment. Pay attention to the following trends in 2021:
- Orange wines
- Natural wines
- Terracotta wines
- Organic & bio-dynamic wines
If you follow some of these trends, you can attract new customers with a higher willingness to pay.
9. Mention the serving size for. every. single. item.
Not every wine bottle has the same standard 0.75l size. Notably dessert wines and sparkling wines have a smaller bottle content. Avoid any misunderstanding with your guest, and indicate the portion size for all bottle and glasses sold in your wine list.
10. Digital wine lists are a trend that will continue to exist in a post-COVID world
Digital wine lists are a highly relevant topic for many restaurants, bars, cafes during the COVID pandemic. Beyond going contactless, a digital wine list brings a lot of advantages that simplify the work for many.
- They do not need to be reprinted with each new supplier delivery.
- It is easy to change prices and vintages at any time with just a few click, on the list itself and across all websites and social media
At Menutech we have made this process as easy as possible for our customers. All changes are updated in real time. You can keep the same QR code as your wine list gets updated, thus saving your printing costs, but also time.
11. Don't forget to mention if your establishment offer virtual or regular wine tasting sessions
If you offer deals such as wine tastings or gift boxes, don't forget to mention it on your wine list. It's a quick and easy promotion to get more sales from your existing customers. Selling to existing customers is always easy and more cost effective than targeting new customers (e.g. via online ads).
12. In which season do you use your wine list?
When writing, always pay attention to the season as well. Each season has its own wines:
- In summer, guests will enjoy lighter, fresher and frothier wines
- In the fall, focus on wines with more tannins and depth, it's the perfect time to try new flavours. White wines may also be fuller-bodied and creamier in autumn
- Winter is the time to enjoy soft, structured wines
- Spring represents renewals, get rid of the gray and sluggishness of winter, and start adding light and fresh wines.
Keep your wine list updated with this in mind, and always offer your guests a thoughtful selection throughout the year.
13. Don't forget the mandatory declarations. Always keep the legal requirements in mind
Last but not least, do not forget that the wine list must also comply with legal requirements. The following information must be on a wine list in the European Union:
- designation of the wine
- the country of production must be clearly indicated if it is not clear from the name of the wine
- the quantity must be indicated
- VAT rates, but you can also indicate at the end of the wine list: "All prices include VAT".
- Allergen declaration of sulfites, also here you can indicate at the end of the wine list "All wines contain the allergen sulfites".
Follow these points and you can confidently present the wine list to your guests.
Keeping the conversation going
Do you have questions about the tips above, or do you want to add your own ideas? Tweet us your thoughts at @menu_tech.
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- "Millésime Bio 2020: organics is fast becoming the norm" by Mike Turner (The Buyer)
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- "Weinkarte zusammenstellen: Konzept und Deklaration" by Schweizer Gastronomiefernschule
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