Many restaurateurs neglect their wine list, due to lack of knowledge or lack of time. However, the development and writing of a beautiful wine list makes it possible to attract a demanding clientele, and to improve the brand image of the establishment. To help you with the task, here is a top 10 mistakes to avoid on a wine list .
Mistake No. 1: forgetting the mandatory information
Drawing up a wine list is not a simple listing of the bottles available in the restaurant's cellar. As with menus, wine lists are regulated, and certain mentions are obligatory, others are optional.
Mandatory information on a wine list
For your wine list to comply with CEE regulation 2392-89 of July 24, 1989 (art. 40), the customer must find:
- The legal sales name of the wine (AOP, IGP, AOC, sparkling wine, wine, etc.);
- The sale price (in euros and all taxes included);
- The capacity of the glass or bottle, expressed in centiliters;
- The statement relating to allergens.
Optional mentions of a wine list
Of course, this information is not enough to allow customers to make an informed choice. It is therefore recommended to add non-obligatory information :
- The name of the domain;
- The vintage;
- Medals and awards;
- The type of production (organic wine, biodynamic wine, natural wine, etc.);
- The grape variety…
Mistake #2: having a wine list that is too short…or too long
Unless you are in a wine bar, where you expect to have a nice selection of varied wines , a very long wine list can quickly discourage customers. Indeed, the wider the choice, the more difficult it will be to decide. This is all the more true if the customer doesn't know much about oenology.
Finally, a wine list that is too long can cause several problems:
- A very long choice on the part of the customer (which delays the service);
- The requirement for significant memorization and in-depth knowledge of the menu on the part of the waiter or sommelier;
- A poor image of the restaurant (not specialized enough, too many wines probably poorly stored, etc.).
Conversely, a wine list that is too succinct does not leave the consumer with enough choice, and may suggest a lack of knowledge and interest on the part of the restaurateur.
Mistake #3: offering a menu that lacks variety
The number of vintage references is not enough to satisfy a demanding customer. And if all the wines offered are not varied, frustration can quickly rear its head.
It is then necessary to be able to include, in a wine list, wines of the 3 colors (red wine, rosé wine and white wine), as well as wines from different wine-growing regions and of different characters.
In this way, food and wine pairing is always possible, and the customer will inevitably find a wine that they will like: a light wine from Beaujolais, a powerful wine from Bordeaux, a sparkling wine from Champagne, a rosé wine from Provence, a white wine from Alsace…
To avoid having to offer a list of wines that is too long, it may be interesting to focus on sure values, as previously mentioned, or to introduce more unexpected wines. You must then be certain of the quality of these bottles, and be able to precisely explain their characteristics to customers.
Mistake #4: presenting wines from a single producer
It is common for a restaurateur to have an affinity for a wine producer, or for an agreement to be made between them to benefit from advantageous prices. Although the principle is interesting, it is however better not to offer only wines from the same producer , for several reasons:
- To allow customers to adapt their choice according to their tastes and dishes by offering wines of various colors and wine regions;
- To avoid giving the impression that the restaurateur only chooses his wine based on good deals (lack of professionalism);
- To be able to offer a varied wine list.
Mistake #5: Ranking wines randomly
This may seem obvious, but it is essential that the wine list is presented logically. This will make the choice easier for wine lovers and allow them to target their search at a glance, according to their preferences and the desired food and wine pairing.
You can then follow the logic of your choice: by color, by wine-growing region, by grape variety, by taste characteristics (fruity, round, mineral, etc.). Generally speaking, restaurateurs make the choice easier by classifying wines by color. Then, within the selection, a classification of wines by increasing price is recommended, to highlight high-end wines.
In the same way, it is recommended to classify bottles of wine first, and leave wine by the glass at the end of the list (with less choice than for bottles), in order to encourage the consumer to buy a bottle of wine. wine.
Mistake #6: Not being consistent in pricing
Whether you are in a gourmet restaurant or a small neighborhood brasserie, the price of wine is always a criterion of choice for the customer. His first logic will be to check the price to respect his budget, but also to verify that the amount is in accordance with the reputation of the vintage. It is therefore important to aim correctly by offering the most consistent price possible.
Furthermore, if the restaurateur offers wine by the glass, care must be taken to ensure that the price of the glass of wine is perfectly consistent with the price of the bottle of wine of the same vintage. Indeed, if a 75 cl bottle is listed at €30 and a glass is €12, the customer will feel cheated, and the restaurant's image will be tarnished.
Mistake #7: making mistakes in wine mentions
Restaurateurs should always assume that their wine-loving customers will be able to recognize the slightest errors on the wine list . And even if they don't know anything about it, they will know how to compare the label on the bottle to the information on the wine list. Therefore, it is essential to avoid gross errors, such as incorrect mentions. Be careful, then, to reread the card several times to make sure that you are not mistaken in the vintage, appellation, or even domain name.
This would have a bad effect, both in the eyes of the customer and in the eyes of the wine producer.
Mistake #8: offering a wine list that is not up to date
There is nothing more annoying for a sommelier or a waiter than having to tell their customer that the wine ordered, and present on the wine list, is not available. It is therefore essential to maintain an up-to-date wine list , and to regularly check the stocks of each vintage in the cellar, before reissuing the list.
If a wine is temporarily unavailable, it is then recommended to mention it on the menu in a legible manner. Conversely, you should also avoid having to specify orally the wines available, but not listed on the list, at the risk of lacking professionalism (updating a wine list does not require a lot of time), and complicate the customer's choice.
Mistake #9: offering an illegible wine list
As we have seen, the number of wines offered, their classification and their information are strategic points for developing a beautiful wine list . But if there is too much data, the card will be overloaded and unreadable.
In the same way, a card with inappropriate colors or a font that is difficult to read will complicate the consumer's choice. It is better to opt for a sober and elegant design, for a wine list that is pleasant to read .
Mistake #10: making spelling mistakes in the wine list
If the design and information of a wine list are essential to facilitate the choice of customers in a restaurant, the professionalism and seriousness of the restaurant also reside in the smallest details. Also, a wine list with spelling mistakes can be very unpleasant for a picky customer.
But a misspelled domain name or type of wine can also make wine producers cringe. Here, vigilance on spelling is required, to maintain a positive and professional brand image.
Are you a restaurateur? You are now equipped with valuable advice for writing an attractive wine list without making any missteps. Do not hesitate to have it reread by those around you to ensure that you do not make any mistakes in your wine list.