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  • Writer's pictureChris

How to design a smart wine program for your restaurant?

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

This article briefly addresses the issues of matching your wine selection with your general concept and your cuisine; moving to pricing strategy, picking the right suppliers, storing wines for optimum conditions. Finally, we discuss menu design, service staff training & motivation as well as monitoring results.

1. Translate your concept into your wine list

It’s a basic idea, but surprisingly often overlooked. If your concept was smartly created around the Five Aspects of the Meal Model[1], and if you have a pretty good idea of your target segment(s), this should be a simple task. For instance, if you manage a Modern French Bistro appealing to the LOHAS[2] segment, at least fifty percent of your wines should be French, organic/ biodynamic/ natural wines. The general design of your menu - including the cover material, graphic, font, colors, information language used - should scream: “Modern French Bistro” to your customer.

2. Write your specifications based on food pairing

Because most wines are meant to be enjoyed before food, with food or after food, I would suggest to write your wine specification based around the food experience. For each dish, starting with your main courses, list 1, 2 or 3 wines that would be ideal match-ups. You can think of one very “classic” match for comfort seekers (in which case you should stick to commercially significant grape varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc & Riesling for whites and Cabernet, Syrah/Shiraz, Merlot & Pinot for red) and something more “unconventional” for your adventure seekers (Grüner Veltliner, Viognier, Carignan or Xinomavro?). You don’t need to be super precise at this time. For example, if you look for a match for a grilled wagyu steak with pepper sauce, our spec' may just look like: “Premium, rich & powerful red”. These specifications will be helpful to communicate with your suppliers, your service staff and your customers.

3. Develop your Pricing Strategy

As a rule of thumb, the average selling price of a bottle of wine is a factor of your average price for a main course: Typically x 2. This means that if your average price for a main course is 1,200 THB, then your average bottle of wine should be sold at around 2,400 THB. This is the price point around which you want to develop your list. The next step will be to determine the price range: setting limits for the lowest price and the highest price of your wine list: the key here is to propose a range that is wide enough for your customers to choose from and narrow enough for you to anticipate and secure desired revenue. Typically, the highest price on the list should be around three times the lowest price. To determine these price points, you may proceed as follow:

A is the average price per bottle, H the highest price and L is the lowest price: