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A New Wine Paradigm?

As a result of COVID-19, many restaurants that have pivoted to takeout have applied a wine approach that I have suggested for sit down service for a long time. Simply put, lower the price of bottles to less profit centered levels, and in doing so, move more wine. Done right, the profit will be at least the same, and guests will become regulars and happier to spend more on food, as well as wine.

Inventory that sits makes nothing; high prices are an impediment to sales. Compare profits from a markup of a typical bottle at 4 times cost sold to 25% of the tables, to the same bottle at 2 times cost sold to 50% of the tables. Same bottom line, but more happy customers. A bit simplistic, for sure, but a sound position. Of course more money is in flux as volume increases, along with all associated costs, but that should be welcomed, not feared.

And, as long as you are reading, some more ideas to ponder:

When I walk into a restaurant, and I do not see a bottle of wine on most tables, I know something is wrong with their wine program. Usually one or a combination of:

• The list was put together by the sales person for a distributor, not actually selected by someone who knows wine and the place's food

• The prices are too high, either by mark up or price tier for the locale

• No one on staff knows wine well enough to teach the servers

• Passive order taking goes on, not active selling of good pairings by servers

• Wines are all "commercial" labels, where every patron knows the retail price

• Owners / BMs have not actively searched for unique or interesting things to put on the list that go with their food

• The place does not regularly host wine dinners or pairing events to engage their patrons


Bernard Kenner                  

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