Wine Lists (Pricing Structures)

Hey everyone!

Just generally curious about this topic because after researching a bit I haven't been able to locate a solid resource on this. I want to know the business side of wine lists a bit more. I studied business in college, but not in relation to wine. I understand contribution margins, COGS, etc, but I'm interested in how to price and how to decide how the wine list will perform.

Any resources or help would be appreciated! 

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  • Well for most major markets Restaurant (DC, Boston, San Fran) the industry norm is a basic mark up system.  For wines by the glass you mark up 4X if a buy a bottle for 10 a bottle I ask 10 for a 6oz glass so I pay for the bottle with the first sale. For most by the bottle wine its a 3X mark up, if I buy for 50 I ask 150. This scale works most of the time. As you get more and more expensive wines you  usually decrees the markup a bit, especially if the wine isnt that hard to get IE Dom Perignon pricey but not hard to get even in large amounts so I only mark up x2. If a wine is expensive and very hard to get IE Screaming Eagle Cab I can only get 3 bottles a year I will stick to the 3x markup or sometimes even more because I dont really want to sell it to fast as it looks good on the list. Every business has a different model, Im sure someone with alot of corporate wine experience will be able to provide you with a more scientific way of doing this. If I was looking to price a list in a city I didnt know well I would get a few copys of wine lists from places in the same food style and price point as the restaurant I ws working with and see what they asked for wines and then look up the cost if those wines, I think you will find many stick with the 4x 3x system. Cheaper prices dont always mean better sales, I now work for a restaurant with a huge library of older wines, We have many many cases of a wine I wanted to sell off as it was getting a bit too old, it was still drinking great but I didnt want to keep it for a long time, The price had been 155.00 a bottle so I dropped it to 99.00 it didnt sell very well, When I asked a few of my better clients why they hadent taken advantage of the savings and they said "at that price I assumed there was something wrong with it"..LOL go figure.

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