Offering a wine menu means you must weigh several elements, including your overall concept, your clientele, your food menu, and whether your staff will be able to sell the wine you select. Get these elements wrong, and you may be stuck with a costly, slow-moving inventory. Get them right, however, and that jovial clinking of wine glasses will sound like an old-fashioned cash register.
Here are seven tips to think about when creating your wine list:
What is your theme and who are you trying to serve? If you run a casual burger joint, a wine list may be unnecessary. But if you offer gourmet burgers as part of an upscale menu, then a wine list may be not only be appropriate, but vital. Do some research of the restaurants in your area to get an idea of what they are offering and what they are charging?
Ask any contacts in the beverage industry whom they use, and how successfully they compete on conceptual fit, price, and variety.
Meet with distributors at your restaurant so they can understand your concept. Ask about their best sellers, but don’t be afraid to offer lesser-known labels that may better fit your theme. Your prospective vendors will want a mutually beneficial sale, so they’ll typically make good suggestions. Make sure that you use at least two distributors.
If you have a separate chef or wine steward, include them in the decision, or even delegate them to make recommendations for your approval. Enlist your servers help as well. Your staff will drive your wine sales, so if they don’t like the wine they taste, you will have trouble selling it.
Although a list of 15 wines may be sufficient, try and offer several varieties, even a few which may be new to most customers. Offering recognizable wines with new ones will not only give the guest the comfort of familiarity but also position your establishment as a place where they can experiment. Ensure that you include light, medium and full bodied white and red wines, as well as sweet and sparkling wines.
Purchasing wine will obviously affect cash flow; so if you choose expensive wines, make sure they offer something for which customers will pay a premium. Unlike your food, to which your chef and servers add value, customers know the retail cost of your wine, to which you add no value. Remember: not all expensive wines will fit your concept, few of your customers will appreciate the difference, and some of your best-selling wines may be the most affordable, especially those from places such as Australia, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa, etc.
Select wines that enhance the widest variety of menu items. Many guests choose wine based on their choice of entrées. Consider listing appropriate pairings on your menu and train your servers to make suggestions when possible.
Before creating your inventory, you will need to budget for your initial order’s cash flow impact. You will need enough climate-controlled storage to house your wine, without spoiling, until poured.
We end off this blog post with a quote: “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” – W.C Fields
Now it’s your turn. Any more tips? How do you choose your best wines? Share with us below.
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