We may be approaching the busiest season in the catering calendar but your wine list needs to be in tip top shape all year.
Industry research has discovered that on-trade wine sales volume has dropped by more than 10% in the past five years.
Sales show that drinkers are increasingly choosing cocktails, craft beers and ciders over wine when out of the home.
To make sure you maximise your wine sales potential, how you present your wine list is crucial. Here’s Take Stock’s tips on putting together a wine list that’ll make your customers pop their corks.
“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilised.”
André Simon, the late French wine merchant and gourmet
Less is more
Unless your customers demand a huge choice, work on the basis of less is more. In recent years, many top restaurants have halved their wine lists and increasing numbers of fine eateries have a range of 20 wines or less.
Don’t be greedy
Stocking your wine list with high-margin wines like Chablis may sound like a winner – but if you only sell a couple a year, you’re the loser. It makes better business sense to sell more bottles at lower margins. That’ll keep your cellar freshly stocked – and your customers believing they’ve got a bargain.
Have clear sections
Split your wine list into Sherry; Champagne & Sparkling; Rosé; White; Red and then split the White and Red sections into sub-sections e.g.crisp/dry, dry/fruity, medium bodied/fruity, full bodied. This will match what your customer is used to seeing at
the supermarket and make them feel comfortable.
By the glass
Increase the number and quality of wines you sell by the glass. This can be easily done if you invest in a wine stopper system like Verre de Vin. It’s a great way to introduce customers to a better wine that they might then buy a bottle of.
Don’t just include the wine name, also put the vintage, producer, region and country. For example, Picpoul de Pinet (2007) Domaine Sainte Anne (Picpoul, France) £20. Always check your wine list spellings!
Fuller wine list
Create a more detailed list of the same wines for customers who want to know more about what’s on offer. This could contain grape variety, tasting notes and food pairing information.
Make sure your staff are educated and knowledgeable about the wine list. That way if a customer quizzes them about a flavour or food pairing they know the answer – and can sell more wine or wine with a higher margin.
Customers now want to see organic and bio-dynamic wines in each category. Even better, have these as house or by the glass options.
Offer the customer the option of taking home their unfinished bottle of wine. This boosts customer relations and encourages them to switch from by the glass to by the bottle – or even to order a second bottle if they know they can take it away.
Some customers like to try something different so a Pinot Grigio is hardly going to make them dance in the streets. Have a few oddball specials from unusual places such as a Brazilian sparking wine, a Greek Rosé or a Slovenian Sauvignon Blanc. Your wine merchant will be pleased to help you and you’ll be offering customers a talking point too.
Customers like promotions. Mark some of your wines down from say £20 to £15 and keep changing your ‘specials’. Customers will be happy with their ‘bargain’, and you might well sell a second bottle. If they love the wine, you’ll be able to sell it at full margin next time.