How to Write a Wine List

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

Whether you run a small restaurant or wine bar, a catering business or fine dining restaurant, there are some simple tools and tricks to help you craft a balanced, enticing and profitable beverage list.

Our resident sommelier Matt Dunne (formerly Aria and River Cafe, London) has put together this step-by-step guide.

For further guidance or to sit down with one of our WSET trained area managers, drop us a line.

Step One

Consider the length, style and target market of your wine list. Do you want fewer wines on your list post COVID, does your staff have the knowledge to sell the wines you want to sell.

  • Determine the narrative of the venue and the list What is your cuisine, who your target market?

  • Determine overall beverage stock valuation Include all beverages in this figure

  • Determine price points Competitor analysis required

  • Develop size of the wine list, how many BTG pours Based on stock on hand, storage restrictions

  • Depending on list size, write list in either:

a) Price order or Least - most expensive

b) Palate weight i.e – Pinot Noir, Gamay, Grenache, Blends, Cabernet Shiraz

c) Style - to create intrigue and interest i.e - Aromatic & refreshing whites, bold & textured whites, light & crunchy reds, natural wine, skin-contact

Pro Tip: Download the ready-to-print winelist below. Just plug in your chosen wines and prices and you're good to go. Or contact us for more templates.

Small Restaurant Wine List_final
Download DOCX • 25KB

Step Two

Consider the pricing and profitability of your wine list.

  • Determine entry point and premium bottle price What is the average bottle price going to be? Create a formula specific to your venue

  • Determine the average GP% by the glass Venue specific to maximise GP. Always higher than by the bottle.

  • Determine the average GP% by the bottle Venue specific - generally slightly less GP than BTG.

  • Bottle price strategy Make more margin on the second least expensive bottle wine. Most customers avoid the cheapest

  • Bottle price formula Typically there is less margin on more expensive bottles to ensure they sell through

  • Follow up Daily sales tracking of best/worst sellers, sales focus opportunities to increase margins

  • Stocktake Have a wastage strategy in place to combat overpouring by the glass and oxidised wine by the glass

  • Tweak/Change/Evolve A process of continuous improvement, enter wine list awards as a reference guide against your peers

Pro Tip: Download our simple costing spreadsheet. Plug in your wines and their landed unit costs, play around with the bottle and glass sell prices and your margins and COGs is automatically calculate

Restaurant Revival Costing Spreadsheet_2
Download • 207KB

Get in Touch

Get in touch to find out more or become a customer of the Joval Wine Group.

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Joval Wine Group Pty Ltd supports the responsible service of alcohol. Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 it is against the law to supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years (Penalty exceeds $17,000) and/or for a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or receive liquor (Penalty exceeds $700). Licence No: 36126236.