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Everything you've always wanted to know about wine but were afraid to ask.

Making a wine list is not always easy: you have to know what information to put on it, what formatting to adopt, how to classify your wines, all without making any mistakes that could jeopardize your credibility. So we've given you a top 10 list of mistakes you shouldn't make on his wine list.

1. Forgetting to mention compulsory information

It is important to know that there are 3 compulsory mentions to be indicated on a wine list which are: the legal sales name, the quantity served and the price. The legal sales description is the description of the wine as sold and presented on the bottle or invoice. This information is mandatory by law, as indicated in Article 40 of EEC Regulation No. 2392-89 of 24 July 1989:

"The description and presentation and any advertising must not be erroneous and liable to create confusion or mislead the persons to whom they are addressed, in particular as regards: the nature, composition, alcoholic strength by volume, colour, origin or provenance, quality, vine variety or nominal volume of the containers. »

Of course, just because they are mandatory does not mean that they are sufficient either. It is always preferable to add other information such as the vintage, the estate, etc. But we'll come back to that in the rest of the article.


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2. Having a selection that is too narrow or too wide

Unless you have a very special theme for your restaurant or wine bar, you cannot offer only red wines, only white wines or wines from a single region. In order to target a wide audience and to ensure that everyone finds what they are looking for, it is essential to balance your wine selection by adding wines from all regions and with different grape varieties. The trend of organic, biodynamic or natural wines is also to be taken into account: it is therefore necessary to offer some of them with this kind of production methods.

But in trying to satisfy everyone, there is also a risk of losing the consumer by offering too much choice. So be careful not to put too many references either. To do this, try to classify your wines into different categories: for example, separate the reds into light and strong reds or between straight and mineral whites and round and fruity ones. Put a few in each category, make sure to balance between regions and grape varieties as mentioned above and you should have a selection of adequate size.

Finally, just because we only talk about whites and reds doesn't mean we should neglect the others. It is of course interesting to also offer rosés and bubbles (Champagne and/or crémant, the choice is yours!).

3. Misclassifying wines

When putting together your wine list, you have to think carefully about how to present them on your menu: in what order and according to what criteria.

If the wines are not classified correctly, the consumer will be lost in the selection and will not be guided in his choice of wine according to his tastes and preferences. If he takes too long to find something that suits him, he may resign himself to taking wine or choose something at random because he doesn't understand selection.

So the best thing to do is to first find categories according to what you want to highlight in your wine selection. You can thus classify them by region or by type of wine (colour, round, mineral, fruity, powerful, light, etc.). Then within each category, it is rather advisable to classify them by increasing price, so that the consumer can clearly see the rise in price.

4. Display inconsistent prices

When a customer looks at the prices, he always tries to see if he is right to invest such and such an amount for a bottle or for a glass. If the price per glass is the same between 2 wines, while their respective bottles are one at 20€ and the other at 30€, the customer who wants the wine at 20€ per glass will not agree to pay as much as for the one at 30€. This seems logical, but we regularly find maps where the multiplying coefficients between the price per glass and per bottle are not consistent.

5. Making a mistake about the region or the vintage

There is nothing worse than putting an appellation in the wrong region or indicating a certain vintage before bringing another to the table. The customer won't always pay attention to it, but if he notices it, it doesn't look good.

So remember to check the region that corresponds to the geographical designations or indications. Check as well the vintages that are available in your stocks and update your card if necessary. It is not legally obligatory to indicate the vintage of the wines but it is something that is very much appreciated by consumers. Moreover, if you indicate a vintage, the law obliges you to justify it if necessary thanks to the label or the invoice of the bottle.

So all it takes is a little vigilance to avoid clumsiness!

6. Do not mention the producer

This error is not a serious fault in the sense that it is not legally required for a wine list. But it would still be a mistake not to put it on. Consumers prefer to know the domain they are about to taste, especially to remember what they have tasted. Moreover, anyone with a minimum of oenological culture knows that there can be a huge difference between two Saint Emilion wines, for example, depending on the estate that produced them. He will therefore prefer to know the domain so that he can find out about it later on.

Moreover, today's consumers are increasingly seeking to get closer to the producer, to know the precise origin behind a product or even its history. Highlighting the producer on the wine list will therefore always be very well perceived by the consumer. (This is also what Les Grappes does by selling wine directly from the producer: the aim is to bring the producer closer to the consumer and to share his story beyond just selling his wine).

7. Have a static and not updated map

Once you've finished your selection and you find it perfectly balanced, with diverse and satisfying wines, you don't always think about changing it or you don't necessarily want to. At the same time, when you're happy with your card, you want to keep it. However, it is always interesting to make it evolve and update it regularly. This allows you to follow consumer trends, such as the current consumption of natural wines, for example. It also allows you to build customer loyalty so that they can regularly make new wine discoveries, and it makes them want to come back. It is also a good pretext to make communication operations on social networks by revealing the new nuggets you have found.

Finally, it is also necessary to adapt to the seasonality of certain wines: adding a few rosés for the summer, or a new champagne for the end of the year festivities for example.

It is therefore essential to update it regularly, keep up to date with trends and make new wine discoveries on a regular basis to keep the wine list attractive!

8. Propose wines that are not available

When you have a dynamic wine list and you list the vintages, you have to make sure that the wines in stock are the same as those on the list. The card must therefore be regularly reissued if necessary. And if a wine or vintage is no longer available but the card has not yet been reissued, it must be clearly and legibly mentioned on the card.

9. Making an illegible card

For a readable wine list, you must already classify your wines as we saw above. But one must also pay attention to the amount of information on the map: the more precise the origin of the wine and its characteristics, the better it is appreciated by the consumer. But you have to be careful: if you put in too much information, it might make the map unreadable.

The aim is therefore to have all this information available in a clear and consistent manner. So it's the design and the shaping that will play a role. In order to arrange all the elements, put each wine information in the same order for each wine. Don't hesitate to also play with fonts and font sizes so that each feature can be distinguished and the information reaches the consumer in a readable and understandable way.

10. Making spelling mistakes

It seems obvious to say that one should not make spelling mistakes on one's wine list, but yet, one always finds maps where the name of the estate or the appellation is badly written, where a plural accord is forgotten... We have already seen Gewurtztraminer instead of Gewurztraminer, or Pommerol instead of Pomerol! It is therefore necessary to check word for word that no typos have been inserted into the card, at the risk of passing for an amateur.

You now have all the keys in hand to create an attractive wine list that meets the expectations of consumers. The wine list is a real marketing tool for a restaurant and it deserves to be done right and run properly.

Do you need some help? Contact The Pro Clusters supplier of wine direct producer for professionals. We also do audit and card consulting to assist you in your selection.

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