Just because a wine is good does not mean it belongs on a club’s wine list.
Creating a wine list involves several other factors in order to offer wines that appeal to all members with various styles and price points while still complementing the rest of their dining experience.
While some clubs have their own sommelier to curate a wine list, a majority of clubs only have a food and beverage director or manager to create a wine list. A club’s wine list is an important first impression for diners that can create a positive feeling of anticipation for their dining experience.
A wine list should be more than just a collection of wines, there needs to be a unifying vision and theme to help hold it all together. Whether the focus is on region or even methodology, a list will not only make more sense to members but it will also make it easier to choose wines to include. While maintaining a vision it is still important to have a variety that is beyond only offering a few whites, reds, and rosés. A wine list should be cohesive but also diverse, just like a club and its members. For example, when choosing white wines a third of them should be crisp and fresh, another third should probably be rich, broad, and toasty, and the rest should be somewhere in between.
A wine list should not be intimidating or confusing. If it is not understandable to all members then it could push them to choose other beverages. For this reason, rather than a large book of wines, the use of digital wine lists has been on the rise. This allows members to search freely on their own by flavors, grape varietal, or pairings without feeling intimidated. Wines should also be priced appropriately, a list should not be considered too cheap or too expensive. A good rule is to keep most wines priced 1 or 2 times the cost of the most expensive food item on the menu. However, more expensive wines should also be included so that members are not denied the opportunity to make a large purchase.
Lastly, but most importantly, a wine list should complement the chef’s food. Every wine offered should serve a purpose. A wine list is missing the point if it is filled with incredible wines but does not pair well with any of the dishes. And just like the ingredients and dishes on a menu, wines should be rotated seasonally. Most chefs change menus several times a year depending on the season and ingredients available. In order to keep the relationship between the food and wine strong the wine list should also change along with the menu.
Creating a wine list that is diverse and understandable for all members can seem overwhelming. But when working with the chef and staying consistent with a club’s brand, it is possible to create a wine list that finds a balance between pair-ability and personality.