“By-the-glass is what drives a wine program. It’s a doorway to your program as a whole,” according to Christopher Birnie-Visscher, sommelier at db Bistro Moderne. There are times when buying a bottle at a restaurant may not be of interest to a customer. However, you can still get that beverage sale by offering a by-the-glass wine list. At times it can be a challenge to implement such an option, but these four tips can get your restaurant started on the right foot.
1. Limit the Selection
The magic number for by-the-glass wine lists is between 12 and 15 wines. Typically, restaurants should offer five or six of each red and white wines. This can be followed by a handful of dessert or fortified wines. Try to avoid offering too many options for your by-the-glass selection because people become overwhelmed by the various types. You don’t want your guests scrambling when the server comes to take their order and selecting a wine that they aren’t sure they will like, or even worse, not choosing one at all. You don’t want your customers spending more time looking over the menu than they would enjoying their wine.
2. Choose the Right Types of Wines
For this section, simplicity is key. Choose wines that customers are familiar with. Doing so boosts their confidence and makes them more likely to order if they don’t have to ask for a server’s help. Try to use regions that people are comfortable with, while having a handful that are from areas that are up-and-coming. Restaurants can also include 1 or 2 wines that are unique and perhaps known by few. This sparks curiosity in the consumer who might be interested in trying something new. They feel special ordering something they haven’t had in the past. Another option is to put a few wines that are expensive when sold by the bottle. This opens the door to wines that people wouldn’t normally gravitate towards.
3. Consider Seasonality
Wines that pair well with summer salads and in-season fruits may not match up well with heavy winter stews. It is wise that restaurants considering food pairings when determining their by-the-glass list. Offer wines that pair with a few dishes each season. Wine flights are another good idea to add to a menu to increase sales by the idea of pairings. These can be predetermined by the chef of the restaurant or based off of palate suggestions. A restaurant can also offer smaller servings so a customer can try several wines with one meal. Successful by-the-glass wine menus rotate in order to combat the changing palates of the consumer. Restaurants should retain happy customers by changing their menus every so often, introducing new options and bringing back classic favorites.
4. Keep the Wine Fresh
There can be a risk of wine going bad if you have multiple bottles of wines open that are you are trying to sell by-the-glass. One solution is to look into wine dispensing machine such as Enomatic or Cruvinet. These systems keep the wine preserved by controlling the temperature and method in which the wine is dispensed. If these machines aren’t in your budget currently, try to see if wines that have proven to be wasteful in the past are offered by the winery in half-bottles.
“At the end of the day, everyone’s palate is completely different from the next,” says Birnie-Visscher. Adding a revamped by-the-glass wine selection with the above tips will grab the attention of new wine lovers regulars, excited with the option of being able to try old favorites and new addition wines by-the-glass.