Crafting a Winning Wine List

Gourmet Traveller has just released its top picks in Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards 2013. Dubbed the most prestigious wine list awards in Australia, this year marks their 20th anniversary. With recognition in national, state-based and wine type categories, as well as the much desired Hall of Fame awards, Gourmet Traveller has certainly uncovered the most exciting and well-crafted wine lists across the country.

Not only is this list about recognising outstanding efforts, it’s also a fantastic resource for the industry to learn what makes a great wine list. Regardless of the size of your business there is something you can learn here, whether you want to create the biggest and best wine list in the country or just understand some basics to make a simple but good wine list to offer your customers.

These awards are judged by a 27 member international panel made up of Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers and some of the most experienced wine judges in the world, each wine list is assessed on five criteria:

• Content (45%) this means an extensive list, plenty of wines by the glass, mature wines from good vintages and an adequate list of aperitifs, beers, spirits, liqueurs and waters
• Balance (15%) a balance between modestly priced and expensive wines, domestic and imported wines, wines from different Australian regions, established and new labels and different varieties
• Suitability (15%) the way that the list fits the restaurant’s food as well as its style and image
• Presentation (15%) the list should include vintages and provide accurate, correctly spelled information and a clear design and layout that is easy to navigate
• Pricing (10%) the judges look for value whilst taking into consideration that many restaurants have high overheads

These criteria give businesses a good starting point, in its simplest form a well-crafted wine list needs to offer a variety of styles at several different price points, a variety of wines by the glass, be accurate and easy for customers to use and should always be appropriate to an establishment. These are the important things to take into consideration when you begin to build your list.

Across the range of awards there are a few stand outs in particular that are definitely worth checking out:

• Best Restaurant List – Print Hall (Perth)
• Best Small List – Chiswick (Sydney)
• Best Pub Restaurant List – The Botanical (Melbourne)
• Best Informal Dining List – Spice Temple (Melbourne)
• Best List of Wines by the Glass – Rockpool Bar & Grill (Perth)

As you go through the full list of award winners and recommended lists, you can see that they do run the gamut of venue types, from small casual dining through to serious high end restaurants. This gives businesses an opportunity to see how similar venues to them have put their wine lists together and learn from them. This will give you information on which wines to choose, what kind of pricing may be appropriate and what wines are good by the glass options.

The final step is an ongoing one, after putting your list together you need to keep updating and building it depending on what products become available and what products your customers like as well as to suit your business as it changes and grows, but most importantly have fun with it!

*Image courtesy of Gourmet Traveller

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