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Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

This week, we are addressing professionals who are looking to establish and enhance their wine list. But this article is also made for the curious who would like to discover the rules of this art. Les Grappes tells you the conditions for creating a wine menu and some tips to make your job easier.

The essentials of a wine list

First of all, you must indicate on your card the following information: the price; the sales descriptions, the quantities served. Indeed, the law comes into play here through Regulation (EEC) No. 2392-89 of 24 July 1989, art. 40:
"the description and presentation and any advertising must not be incorrect and of such a nature as 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. »

In short, the law implies that you must indicate obligatorily:

- the exact name under which the wine is sold, with good separation between table wines (without geographical indication), local wines and PDOs;

-the capacity of the bottles, preferably in centilitres; indicate each type of bottle by its capacity;

-net prices, including services.

These are the necessary steps when preparing your wine list.

Here are some more general but essential tips from the very beginning of the creation of your menu: the vintage indicated on the menu must be that of the available wine. Finally, the bottles must be opened in the presence of the consumer, before his eyes, except of course for the sale by the glass.

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Balance of the wine list

After material considerations, it's time for wines! The art of the wine menu lies in its balance and complementarity. Indeed, whether it has 40 or 500 references, your card must above all be coherent and allow the consumer to find himself. This means that you should pay attention to the interplay of complementarities within your wine list.

Indeed, your menu must announce a certain complementarity in the regions by offering expected wines but also less known wines that should be discovered by your customers. If 20% of references cover 80% of sales, it is your duty to promote less well-known wines, and to play on diversity to arouse the consumer's curiosity.

Then, you must vary the grape varieties, always aiming for harmony within your wine list: the challenge lies in the representativeness of all the grape varieties through your wine list.

Thus, for each type of wine - red, white, rosé, champagne - offer wines from different grape varieties. Even if you only offer 3 red wines, these 3 wines must not be of the same style, made from the same grape variety.

Always aiming for the harmony of your menu, choose the variety in the styles of wines. As we have said before, they must be complementary: thus offer both light and fruity wines, powerful and ample.

Finally, you must match the price of wine with the price of dishes and menus so that your menu is consistent. You can also create selections with low-cost offers, by the glass, that will accompany dishes; next to that, also offer a higher-priced selection with wines of remarkable quality, but which must remain in harmony with the rest of your menu.

A living map

Once your menu has been drawn up, it should not remain static, quite the contrary: a good wine list evolves, it is alive.
In order to perfect your card, do not hesitate to upgrade it. For example, you can adapt it to the seasons and dishes, by offering a specific menu in spring and summer, which would rather offer light and rosé wines. It can also follow the course of your discoveries: propose wines of the moment, wines of discovery or favorites of the chef. Present these wines to the public so that they can be opened to less well-known or original wines. You can then add an appendix to the list, present these wines on a slate or orally.
Of course, your menu must also adapt to the cellar's flow: if a wine is no longer available, you will have to indicate it on the menu.

Marie Lecrosnier-Wittkowsky

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