Tips for Building a User Friendly Wine List

By Lindsay Trivers November, 08 2017
Given the choice between tackling a rabid possum and choosing from a wine list, many people would have to weigh up the options far more carefully than they should. This is because wine lists are often an intimidating, if not the most intimidating part of the dining experience. However, with a little careful planning you can make things easier all round - both for your customers, service staff and your wine program alike. Here are The Tasting Class's tips for Wine bars and restaurants in Dubai.

1) Round it out

While discerning wine lovers may be blown away by your range of rare Spatburgunder, many customers still shy away from the unfamiliar and unknown, so unless you specialize in a specific national cuisine, it’s a good idea to include a range of wines from key regions and grape styles. By offering a few tried and tested favourites, customers will feel confident ordering and pronouncing them in front of a date, or business colleague, and may still try your more exciting products, particularly if your staff are well-trained on how to recommend them, and with what food pairing.

2) Make the wine list manageable 

It’s always impressive when you see a restaurant with a phonebook-sized wine list, but there is such a thing as too much choice, and unless you have a team of sommeliers selecting, tracking, rotating, and training others how to confidently sell it all, it can quickly become an expensive affliction. Keep the list selective and encourage your staff to become knowledgeable and confident about it, and voila.

3) Avoid careless typos

Wines come from all over the world, and so do customers, and on every label there’s important information in English, French, Spanish, German, so remember to get your terminology right. At best it helps discerning consumers understand what the wine actually is, at worst it looks sloppy, unprofessional and may even cause people to question your authority on your own products. If in doubt look up the bottle on www.wine-searcher.com, and it will tell you the correct way to list it.

4) Consider a wine preservation system

Every restaurateur would love to offer something a little more special, and indeed expensive, by the glass. However, the cost of wastage is way too high if you only sell a glass of the premium stuff once a week. Luckily both Coravin, EuroCave and By The Glass now offer technology that allows more exclusive drops to be offered. It’s also worth bearing in mind that customers are often more than happy to part with their cash for a glass of something really special, particularly if they’re dining alone (hello business hotel venues.)

5) Know your audience

It's important to stay focused on who your client base is and what they expect from you. If you offer great value food, then you need to offer great value wine as well. True, your profit margins may be lower (definitely not always the case), but you’ll sell more, which ultimately is the goal of the entire exercise. And whilst we all want to show off our knowledge of cutting-edge wines and rare regions, or use the skills we picked up during that summer in Italy, the client should always dictate the majority of the products, not the other way round, particularly if you’re going to tear them away from the beer tap. And finally…

6) Play it smart

There is naturally going to be a markup between retail and restaurant prices, and customers do expect it. However, sometimes the mark-ups can be…ambitious, to say the least. Yes, there are those willing to splash out on an overpriced bottle, or who feel good spending money on a special night out, but there are far more who don’t take kindly to the practice, and who will express their feelings by either never returning, or damning you on Tripadvisor. Just ask yourself, who’s more valuable - the one customer who pays a higher price (but potentially gets buyers remorse later,) or the dozens of happy ones who tell their friends what a great experience they had and what wonderful value you are, before returning time and time again.

If you don't want to choose between wines but rather want to spend the night with friends at your home sampling lots of different wines, The Tasting Class provides wine tasting experiences in the comfort of your home under a sommelier’s guidance. Choose between our home tasting experiences or come sample some wines at one of our public events.

The Wines we tasted

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