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How to build the ultimate wine list for your venue

Valentines Blog 2022 (1)

Creating a wine list that echoes your establishment’s personality, complements your food menu, and resonates with your customers isn’t easy. We’ve put together eight recommendations to help you to design a wine list that will always go down a treat.

The importance of having a wine list


Your wine list can make or break a customer’s experience. A well-planned wine list can elevate it, while a hurried one can leave a bitter taste in the mouth. The best wine lists are thoughtful, accessible, in keeping with the venue, and playful. As you're about to find out, there’s so much more to a wonderful wine list than just a list of wines.

8 effective ideas for building a wine list


Knowing how to make a wine list chime with your offering and charm your clientele is a science and an art form. Luckily, we’ve compiled the following eight tips on how to build a wine list to make your life a whole lot easier.

1. Think about your offering

If you want to know how to design a wine list, a great place to start is to think about your overall offering. What are your key points of difference? Your wine list should reflect your USPs. Vegetarian restaurant? Serve a selection of vegetarian and vegan wines. Italian restaurant? Ditch the French red wine list and stock up on some Italian vino.

2. Keep the menu in mind

If you serve food, think about how your wine list interacts with your menu. Does it complement or even enhance it? Or is it an afterthought that clashes with your culinary selection? Ensure your wine list is an appropriate match for the cuisine you serve and works well across a broad cross-section of your dishes. Also, consider providing pairing suggestions to make your customer’s selection process easier and more curated. 

3. Consider suppliers

It's important to choose a supplier who can deliver against the expectations of your wine list. You'll want to work with someone who understands your venue and what your offering is. For instance, if your remit is for wines that are more quirky, exclusive or luxurious, working with a supplier that can give you access to unique wines can be rewarding. Likewise, a more boutique approach to your wine list can give you an edge over more mainstream vendors."

4. Build a structure  

One effective approach to structuring a wine list is to arrange it into groupings of sparkling, rosé, white and red wines. You could organise these further by way of similar grapes, styles and flavours. Or you could separate your wines by country or region. Just don’t arrange them by price; you want your customers to explore the wine list and step away from price-based purchasing. 

Check out these 12 tricks for flawless menu design.

5. Customer feedback

Pay close attention to what your customers are choosing. This instant feedback will allow you to make better-informed choices about how to design a wine list that truly reflects your customers’ buying habits. For instance, if Sauvignon Blancs are popular, be sure to offer a generous selection of good Sauvignons to meet demand. 

6. Explore regions  

Diversity is no bad thing when creating a memorable wine list. As well as a healthy mixture of Old World wines from well-known wine making countries like France, Italy and Spain, try casting your net further afield to New World producers like South Africa, Chile or even China for an extra touch of uniqueness to your wine list. 

7. Commercial points

It’s a good idea to understand how much you’re paying for your wholesale wine and how much you need to sell it to make the desired profit. Also, ensure you offer some options by the glass so you don’t miss out on sales. It’s also a great way to test niche or experimental additions to your list  in a cost-effective and controlled manner.  

8. Visual 

Make sure your wine list is visually appealing; we buy with our eyes. With Millennials and Gen Z in mind, are there any eminently Instagrammable, ‘as-seen-on-TV’, or influencer-endorsed options you could add to your wine list to ramp up its visual appeal? This kind of touch can add a whole lot of social traction with minimal effort on your behalf.   

Create a winning wine list today


Creating a winning wine list is no mean feat. But you can reap the rewards if you learn how to build a wine list that resonates with your customers and helps you stand out from the crowd. The team here at Matthew Clark can provide the step-by-step support you need to curate the ultimate wine list. That includes an impressive selection of more than 1,400 carefully selected wines to seamless delivery and tailored training courses.

For more information about our wine products or hospitality training, please contact us at 01275 891 400 or email   


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