How to Build a Restaurant Wine List

Tips on Creating a Wine List

You can easily make your menu more readable for your customers while increasing your profits.

  • Wine is not sorted by price
  • List important information such as vintage, country of Origin, Body, and Price per Glass or Bottle.
  • Variety is key to appealing to different price points and tastes
  • Sort them in a logical order, such as from sweet to dry or by geographic origin.
  • Upsell or highlight wines that are priced between mid-to-high-priced on your menu.
  • Menu items can be paired with food and Wine
  • Rotate your Wine seasonally to prevent it from getting too old or boring

Match your Wine to the menu of your restaurant. If you run a steakhouse, you will want to serve a lot more bold, full-bodied wines and fewer floral whites. You’ll need to choose delicate wines with fruit and spices and sparkling roses if you own an Asian restaurant. You can also choose to serve wines from the same region as the foods you serve.

Wine Flavor Profiles

Understanding wine-tasting basics is important so that you can create an interesting menu. High tannin levels can make a wine taste bitter or dry. The flavor and mouthfeel are described by terms such as spicy, fruity, and floral.

Consider the following profiles and factors when selecting wines that will best complement your menu:


Wine should be at least as sweet or more than the food when pairing it with a meal.

  • Descriptive terms: Sweet, Semi-Sweet and Dry


Acidity is a key factor in cleansing your palate. It is perfect for pairing with creamy, rich dishes.

  • Descriptive terms: Low-to-High


Pair simple wines with strong flavors and complex wines with simpler dishes.

  • Descriptive terms: Simple and Complex

Alcohol Content

Wines with lower alcohol by volume are best paired with spicy or salty foods.

  • Descriptive terms: Low (low, medium, high)

Oak Influence

The oakier the Wine is, the better it pairs with flavors that are robust and smoky.

  • Descriptive terms: None up to Oaky

What Are Tannins in Wine?

Tannins in Wine are naturally occurring polyphenol compounds found in plant parts, including the skin of grapes. They exist in many other foods, such as tea leaves, walnuts, almonds, and dark chocolate. When vintners make Wine, some tannins are extracted from the fruit or the wooden barrels they age the Wine in. This produces a drying sensation in your mouth as you sip a full-bodied red wine.

The majority of wines with high tannin levels are red, although white wines can have tannins when they are aged in wood barrels.

What is a Red Wine Headache (or Pain)?

The tannins on grape skin or histamines in aged Wine can cause a red wine headache. Some people feel headaches and migraines after drinking a few glasses of red wine, but others don’t.

When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases histamines, which can cause headaches and other symptoms.

Red Wine, on the other hand, contains more tannins. Some people are sensitive to tannins and will react badly to cabernet sauvignon or merlot.

Temperature of Wine

The temperature you serve your Wine at will vary depending on the type:

  • Red Wine Should be served between 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • White Wine Should be served chilled or at a temperature of less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sparkling Wine must be chilled for at least three hours in the fridge before serving.

Consider changing the Wine’s temperature when creating your wine list. In winter, customers may prefer a full-bodied, warm red wine, while in summer, they might choose a chilled, sparkling rose.

Common Wine Types

The world is full of countless blends and varietals of Wine, each with its own unique characteristics. But, by choosing some of the most popular red and white wine types from our guide, you can get your restaurant wine list started in a good way.


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