How To Build A Wine List That Everybody Will Love

Written by Brittany Paguni, Account Specialist

Why Do You Need A Wine List?

Building a wine list for a restaurant is an art that requires a delicate balance of taste, selection, and pricing. A well-curated wine list can be a valuable asset to your restaurant, enhancing your guests' dining experience and boosting your reputation. In this blog, we will discuss some tips for building a wine list for both casual and fine-dining restaurants.

Understand Your Customer Base

The first step in building a wine list is to understand your customer base. The demographics and preferences of your customers can greatly influence the types of wines you should include on your list. For example, if your restaurant caters to a younger crowd, you may want to include trendy and affordable wines. However, if you have a more affluent customer base, you may want to include premium wines that offer a more sophisticated experience.

Determine Your Menu

Another important factor to consider when building a wine list is your restaurant's menu. The wines you choose should complement your menu and pair well with the dishes you offer. For example, if your restaurant serves seafood, you may want to include white wines with citrus and mineral notes. If your menu consists of hearty meat dishes, you may want to include red wines with bold flavours and tannins.

Variety is Key

When building a wine list, it's important to offer a variety of wines from different regions and grape varieties. This allows your customers to explore different flavour profiles and find the perfect wine to complement their meals. You should also offer wines at different price points to cater to different budgets.

Selecting the Right Varietals and Regions

When selecting the varietals and regions to feature on your wine list, it's important to consider your menu, customer base, and the overall theme of your restaurant. For example, if your restaurant specialises in Italian cuisine, you may want to feature wines from Italy, such as Chianti, Barolo, and Pinot Grigio. If your restaurant is more global, you may want to include wines from regions such as France, Spain, and California.

Determining Your Wine Pricing

Determining the pricing of the wines on your list can be a challenge. The prices should reflect the quality of the wine and the overall experience you are offering your guests. One strategy is to use a markup formula, where you take the wholesale cost of the wine and multiply it by a certain percentage to arrive at the retail price. For example, if the wholesale cost of a bottle of wine is $10 and you use a 200% markup, the retail price would be $30. It's also important to consider your customer base and the overall price point of your restaurant when determining your wine pricing.

Tips for Casual Dining Restaurants:

For casual dining restaurants, your wine list should be approachable and easy to navigate. You should focus on offering affordable and versatile wines that pair well with a variety of dishes. It's also important to include wines by the glass to cater to customers who may not want to purchase a full bottle.

Tips for Fine Dining Restaurants:

For fine dining restaurants, your wine list should be more extensive and offer premium wines from different regions. You should also offer rare and hard-to-find wines for customers who are looking for a unique experience. It's important to have a sommelier on staff to guide customers through the wine list and make recommendations based on their preferences.


Building a wine list for a restaurant requires careful consideration of your customer base, menu, wine selection, and pricing. By offering a variety of wines that complement your menu and cater to different budgets, you can enhance the dining experience for your customers and establish your restaurant as a destination for wine enthusiasts.

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About Geordy Murphy

From concept developer and restaurant general manager, to corporate chef and marketing director, Murphy has been the lead executive in a number of the country’s most prominent restaurants and bars.Connect with Geordy on

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