This is my first post - so bare with me. At the moment I'm half way through my diploma studies and preparing for the Case study. The subject at hand is "The Restaurant Wine List". What I'm reaching out for are tips and directions on material for research. I've looked around for books and find them being ot of date and not really a reliable in context with this study.
Thanks in advance!
I'll chime in on this because I have the same case study. First, thanks for all the replies! They're very helpful.
For background, for the WSET Diploma Unit 1 Exam, you get a case study, research it, and then take an essay exam answering questions about it. The exam in June is on restaurant wine lists. However, a few specific things are mentioned that I think are important to the case:
First, it notes it "can be expensive to produce and maintain" a traditional printed wine list. Accordingly, "many restaurants have dispensed with wine lists and are communicating their wine range to customers in different ways." To the extent anyone has information on alternative vehicles for wine lists, e.g., iPads, black boards, semaphore, carrier pigeon, etc., I would really appreciate hearing about them.
Second, it notes that a good wine list serves many purposes, and should not simply accompany the chef's signature dish. To the contrary, "commercial and practical considerations come into play and these should be central to deciding which wines to stock." To the extent anyone has information to share on non-food pairing reasons wines are on lists, e.g., "I have five regulars who drink eight cases of Lancers a week, so I stock it even though it doesn't pair with the kale," I would love to hear them.
Thanks in advance for any help you provide this WSET padawan.
Phil, I have used two Ipad programs that seem to be a great jumping off point the first is called Tastevin which was created by wine industry people. It is very easily manipulated and can be directly hooked to the POS for inventory purposes. The second and one I am currently managing is through a group called Uptown Network. More of a cloud base system that utilizes a third party for technical issues and it has a system set up on a corporate level to analyze your list and tell you how many more or less of a certain wine style, price point, and/or regional varieties are needed. In both cases each program has sales tactics built in... (90 point stars and "only 1 left Buy soon" ) things of that nature.
Phil, just a couple of things off the top of my head. You have to put yourself in your guests shoes and look at the choices they are being offered. Some of this can boil down to the price points you offer. You have to frame your guest's experience. If your most expensive bottle of Bordeaux is $400, you will sell it on very rare occasions. If your most expensive bottle of Bordeaux is $800, people will feel a lot better about ordering that $400 bottle. Thinking about the current buying decisions of your guests can help you make smarter choices in what you are offering. If you are selling a lot of, say, Barolo and you only have three offerings between $110 and $150, then you are probably missing out on sales by not offering higher price points. Things like how the wine list is organized are important. It needs to be easy to navigate, but it needs to show that wine is taken seriously and be error-free. Even how the wine list is handled within the guest's view can be important. I've seen people tuck it under their arms/armpits before handing it to a guest. (For that matter, do you hand it to the guest with a sincere offer of assistance, or do you plunk it down on the table and walk away?) Finally, there is a whole world of behind the scenes pricing decisions that can affect your revenue. For more on that, see this thread:
At the end of the day, your list should cater to both the chef's cuisine and your guest's tastes. The choices of wines and price points can lend personality and/or stature to the restaurant. Remember that you are creating the environment within which your guests are making decisions. Also, you don't have to have a case or even six bottles of these wines on hand. It's often times much more economical to reprint with some frequency than to have cases and cases of $800 wines on hand that you will probably not sell very fast.