Wine List Consequential: The Practicalities, Pitfalls and Peacock Dance of On-Premise Wine Sales
Wine lists read like a foreign language to all but the most well-traveled guests.
“Rambling and enthusiastic” are words Jancis Robinson has written in describing some wine lists. Those could be generous synonyms for complicated, intimidating and overwhelming to the dining guest. Why should restaurant ownership and management worry about their wine list? Any experienced owner or top manager knows that on-premise wine sales account for 30 to 40 percent of profits. Herein lies the challenges and advantages of a digital wine list.
How much thought should be expended on the architecture of a wine list?
There are as many ways to organize a wine list as there are restaurants with wine lists. Should one organize by varietal? Region? Varietal by region? Varietal by region of origin or production? Old World vs. New World? Power? Price? Or just go haywire and have no logical structure at all?
While courses of study for wine specialists may cover the economics of selecting wines for a wine list, the architecture of presenting those wines is often left up to individual preferences, which are as varied as the personas behind them. Is the wine specialist warm and open to customers? That specialist’s wine list might be arranged in a low church, very user friendly fashion. Is the specialist heady from his palate prowess and advanced certifications? That specialist’s list might be arranged with a lengthy liturgy that only he can recite in guiding guests through its intricacies, while complaining to management that the wait staff is unmotivated and lazy regarding wine sales.
A wine list and its’ web presence are critical to a restaurant’s success and profitability. Today, many Gen-X and Millennial dining guests will preview a menu and wine list online long before ever entering the door.