Ideas (for restaurants)

Have a restaurant that wants to move more wine, or attract more of the serious wine crowd? Here are some ideas.

Half price wine night – Can be a weekly event for one month, or keep it going all year long. Pick the slowest wine night of the week and do 50% off all bottles. I’d suggest using this idea in tandem with the next.

Declare a wine month – Pick a month, the slowest wine month of the year, and make a declaration. Plant a flag. Be loud about it. IT’S WINE MONTH HERE! What does that mean? You decide. Specials, deals, features, special guests, enhanced staff training, give-aways, BYOB nights, you name it.

Wine trivia night – Find a sales rep or a local somm to conduct a wine trivia night for one or two hours a week. Instead of questions like “who won the Super Bowl in 1976?” (was it the Steelers?), you have questions like “what grape was misidentified as Merlot in Chile for generations?” (Carmenere). Sounds geeky? Yes. But that’s the idea. Draw in the wine geeks becuase they drink a lot of wine.

Get better stemware – and tell the world. Make sure your customers know about your financial commitment to their wine enjoyment (perfect for social media).

Closeout / bin end list – Every restaurant has some extra bottles kicking around. Why not try to turn them into cash. Tie it into a wine month or a wine week. Have one beat up copy of the list, and scratch out those that get sold.

Better staff training – bring in an expert in the field of wine education and wine sales to help shoot some mojo into your staff. Tie this into an incentive and watch the sales go up.

Staff incentives – approach your number one wholesaler and ask for swag or some free bottles. Have mini contests for a week or a month, handing out free openers, t-shirts, and bottles of wine to the winnners.

Tie a wine to a local organization – Approach a group near the restaurant (preferably one that is well organized and with an active email list) and tell them two dollars of every fill-in-the-blank wine sold in the next month is going to them. Supply them with photos, descriptions, and more making it easy for them to promote you.

Gamify your next wine list pick – Tell the world you’re hunting for a new Pinot Noir but you want their help. They get a three wine flight for $20, a voting card, and a coupon to use the following month when the winning wine gets a new spot on the wine list. Repeat with Sauvignon Blanc. Repeat with Chardonnay. And on and on.

There are dozens of ideas beyond these. It’s been proven time and time again that all it takes to kickstart greater restaurant wine sales is to pay attention to it. Show your staff it’s a priority. Help them learn what they don’t know. The best part? If done right, everyone wins. The consumer, the server, and the restaurant owner.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.

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