Peter Scudamore-Smith is an Australian Master of Wine. Founder of Australian wine consultancy Uncorked and Cultivated, he provides expert advice on pre and post millennial wine style. Straight talking Peter chairs Wine List of the Year Thailand and has wide experience judging numerous wine list and sommelier competitions. Here he gives us his top tips for creating a successful wine list.
There are no great wine lists, just those which are a good read. The outcome for a restaurant is to receive an order and not host a bible reading session, so the simpler the list, the better your customer will feel.
You see after several pages the wine list morphs into a book and people who are eating, dining or just hanging out don’t require volumes of information about wines. Most diners never get past the first one or two pages anyway, they turn off and hungry people become distracted by what their waiter or sommelier has to offer. So you get my drift, big belting lists are out of fashion in this mobile world.
The only saving grace for a longer offering is a digital list; the customer can scroll through the pages in seconds or use the search key, which also hides the hundreds of wines cleverly sitting in the data base. This acts as a concealed cellar resulting in a clean, simple read! Excellent... and nobody knows how many wines there are!
If a wine list is just two pages long (my ideal) how does it look? Easy to read. Do some heavy lifting with the design; headline wines by variety never region, that follows at the end of the line. Use funk, use colour, be terse, be relevant; make it easy to navigate and don’t choke with too many wines.
Make most drops available by-the-glass or served from an argon cloud dispenser-50 ml, 100 ml, 150 ml etc. depending on the price point of the bottle. The best profits come from by-the-glass sales so try offering the best for drinkers. In an era of shared plates this results in every diner drinking differently-so glass offers are critical.
The real rub comes for restaurants with large glass programmes: there comes a time when too many single pour wines starts congesting the property (or deteriorating). This is the reverse reaction forcing a reduction in listings; hurrah, keep it smaller.
A good restaurant owner, manager or sommelier will keep the list fresh; change it daily and rollover at least weekly or as soon as... a list over three months untouched is stale!
If you have a themed place such as an Italian restaurant keep to wines from that region, stick to the concept.
So your list must be gorgeous not grandiose, or nobody reads them.
World Trends by Peter Scudamore-Smith
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