Wine Much? 10 Tips For Restaurants/Bars on How to Sell Wine

I LOVE wine!  

Not all wines, I love dry red wines with bold, fruity, spicy undertones.  

I LOVE a GOOD wine!  However, I am not going to lie, I am not a fine connoisseur of wines.

I am a normal, average, everyday wine lover.  

My pet peeve is to go to a bar or restaurant and they don’t have wine, or they have the cheapest wine they can buy in single serving sizes. Furthermore, the worst experience a wine lover can have is to go to a restaurant (especially a fine dining restaurant) and order a glass of Cabernet and the waitress or bartender goes off and pours you the house wine.  Now, let’s use this example…my husband asks for a wheat beer, the bartender or waitress doesn’t run off and pick the cheapest wheat beer and give him a glass.  They offer him his choices and to try a sample…why not do this with wines?  

The perfect wine ordering conversation:

Me:  I would love a glass of wine.

Bartender:  That sounds great, do you have a favorite red or white, sweet or dry?

Me: A dry red.

Bartender:  Here is a list of all our choices, let me know if you would like to taste any or have questions.

Bartender hands me the wine menu for dry red wines.

I know you are going to say that wine is expensive and to open a bottle for a taste is not wise business.  I guess, if the wine is denied, you could then sell it as a by the glass or offer as a house wine of the night.  However, I am pretty certain, if you have chosen the wines wisely, they will accept the wine and enjoy the fact you know your wines.

Even on a train you can get good wine!

My knowledge of wine is in the flavor, not the year, the vineyard, or the price (although, I do know the best medium priced wines at the store).  I question, no, I challenge all restaurants to get to know their wine!  Don’t just throw some bottles behind the bar and say, “Yes, we have wine.” You need to learn about wine!  If you want a wine lover to frequent your establishment, get GOOD wine!  Definitely, not the single serve, cheap wines.  Carry actual wines that have a decent flavor, aroma and are pleasant to drink.  If you don’t sell enough to open a bottle and serve by the glass, sell by the bottle only.

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Understanding the different types and flavors of wines, the many serving temperature of wines, and the proper serving of wine is something every bar owner/bartender/server should understand.  It doesn’t matter if you actually like wine, you need to know about wine to buy it, store it, and serve it to customers.  

Tips from a Wine Lover!

  1. Carry various red (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Malbec, Zinfandel, Chianti) and white (i.e. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Prosecco, Moscato) wines and sell them by the bottle only.  Even if you are a small bar in the middle of no where, chances are you will encounter a wine lover at least two or three times a month.  Wine, if stored correctly, will hold up for years if not opened! Hint – A person who loves wine will be more likely to spend the money on a bottle of unopened wine, than to buy a cheap wine that lacks flavor in a single serve bottle.  Most states allows the consumer to take home the leftovers, so they would not be wasting money.  However, each state has different laws pertaining to this, you should check the laws in the state you are in for further information. Here is a great site that lists the states and their wine take out laws, has a list of states and rules per state.  
  2. Do not automatically serve the house brand!  Always give the customer a wine list to choose their wine.  Most likely, they will go for a medium prices glass or buy a bottle if they plan on a few glasses.
  3. Serve wine in the correct vessel.  Yes, the vessel you serve in does affect the aroma and flavor of the wine.  Every restaurant/bar should carry at least 6 red wine glasses and 6 white wine glasses, even if you don’t have a large wine drinking fan base.  For more information on wine glasses this is a great article Types of Wine Glasses.
  4. Train your staff on proper serving of wine.  Open the bottle at the table, pour a small amount in the correct vessel, allow the customer to swirl, smell, and taste the wine.  We may not be fine connoisseurs, but we can still smell, swirl, and taste to make sure we want to spend money on a bottle of wine.  Here is a great video on how to open a bottle of wine How to Open a Bottle of Wine.
  5. Know what the proper temperature for serving wine.  Nothing irritates me more than ordering a cabernet and having it served ice cold!  Here is a good site that goes over appropriate serving temperatures, Vine Pair on The Right Temperature to Serve Wines
  6. Give the customer a sample to make sure it appeals to their taste buds.  Yes, they may turn it away, but you will have a happy customer that will keep coming back for the wine they love.  
  7. Suggest wine pairing on your menu. If you have food specials for the night suggest a wine that would pair well with the special and have a few extra bottles on hand, just in case.
  8. Invest in a few good corkscrews, The Best Corkscrew by  Watching a bartender/server fight the cork is never an appealing sight.
  9. Store open wines appropriately and discard in a timely manner (or use in your kitchen!).   Here is a great article on storing wine. Storing Wine by
  10. To help you understand what your customers want, buy a case or two of a nice wine each month and put it at a special price.  This tempts the customer to buy the special and if it turns out to be a hit, you know you should carry that wine all the time, at a higher price of course.

Okay, my rant is over! 

Do you know of a place you won’t frequent because they don’t carry something you love?  

What pet peeves do you have about restaurants or bars?

Amazon Ideas for Your Home or Bar



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