A Primer to Creating a Better Wine Program (Part I of III)

Wine Program

Looking to revamp or create a better wine program? Or maybe wine is a mystery and you want to be educated for not only your guests but yourself. Here’s a way to make it as simple as possible from wine lists to pairing to drinking great wine. Take this information and go into your own establishment to apply what you’ve learned and ask questions.

Part 1 – Wine Lists

The most common mistake made in creating a wine list is having a selection of wines that is not appropriate for the food offered in the restaurant and doesn’t work for the clientele of the restaurant. Too large of a list is also a problem, along with having a mis-balanced wine list or a list that is all from one distributor.

An even greater problem in wine lists is the error in pricing wines. Many restaurants will price wines based upon the 3x rule. A wine that costs $8 a bottle is then sold for $24 on the list. A wine that costs $50 a bottle is also priced at $150 on the list. This is a problem that creates stagnant inventory and leaves the consumer feeling like they are getting ripped off. Often, I will tell CFOs that “they can not bank a percentage – only cash.” What this means is that if you have a 30% beverage cost percentage – that does not necessarily mean that you are making money in beverage. It just means that your sales revenue to cost is at 30%, and not that you are making any money at the bottom line. Let me give you a better example.

Which wine would you rather sell on your list?

Wine A sells for $24 and has a 33% beverage cost.
Wine B sells for $60 and has a 50% beverage cost.

The correct answer is wine B, as you will make $30 per bottle sold vs $16. Multiply that over the entire list and there is quite a bit of cash that could be left on the table if you don’t have a wholistic approach to pricing.

Look for the next two articles where we’ll cover wine pairings and wine ordering from the guest’s perspective.

Brett L. Magnan