Getting the most out of the prices for your wine by the glass offerings can be a constant battle.
Offering wine by the glass is fairly standard in most establishments. It’s a great option for guests who want to try different wines and/or don’t want to feel obligated to order full bottles. Still, it can feel like there are a multitude of approaches to choosing what to offer by the glass and, more specifically, pricing these offerings. Here’s what you need to consider when deciding how to price wine by the glass.
The Basics of Pricing Wine by the Bottle
Before we dive into the specifics of wine by the glass, let’s briefly cover how to price wine by the bottle.
Most on-premise establishments price wine bottles at four to five times the wholesale price of the bottle. (This means a pour cost of ~20–25%, or profit margins of ~75–80%, not accounting for variance/waste.)
But when you start reaching around or above $30–50 per bottle, this rule might not be effective for your clientele. Some establishments will set lower prices, depending on how quickly they want to go through bottles and the level of demand for those bottles.
Every establishment will experiment a bit with pricing, especially if they are new and just getting to know their customer base. Now that we’ve briefly covered wine by the bottle, let’s go over how to price wine by the glass…
Know Your Clientele And Your Limits
As I said when discussing distributor sales reps, you should know your business better than anyone.
That means you should know your clientele. When it comes to pricing, you should know how much is too expensive for your customers, and how low you are willing to set prices. Knowing these will help guide you in determining what wines to feature in your program as offerings by the glass. In my experience, most bars will comfortably price wine by the glass at around $9–15 per glass.
(Note: There are many outside factors that will affect the scope of this range such as your establishment’s location and its competitive environment.)
You also need to know the limits of your wine. Once you open a bottle to pour a glass, it won’t last as long as one that is fully corked and sitting on your shelves. This heightened need to get your money back on that bottle will influence your pricing decisions.
Pricing Wine by the Glass
The pour cost of your glass pour should be the same as the wholesale cost of one bottle—that is, about 20–25%.
If you follow this rule, you should make your money back on a whole case of wine after selling just 3 bottles or 12 glasses of wine (assuming four 6oz glasses per bottle).
There are a few exceptions to this approach:
- If the bottle you are pouring costs less than your lowest price limit for wine by the glass (e.g. your bottle costs $6, but you want your cheapest wine to be $9/glass), you should try to price it at your lowest price limit instead. This way everything stays consistent and you are able to make a little more per glass on that bottle of wine. The caveat to this is if your local competitors carry the same wine at a lower price by the glass.
- If the bottle you are pouring costs more than your highest price limit for wine by the glass (e.g. your bottle costs $18, but you don’t want to price your wines higher than $15/glass), you can either price it at your highest price limit and sacrifice your profit margins on that bottle. The alternative is not to offer the wine by the glass.
If you’re struggling to find bottles of wine to fit into your limits, work with your distributor sales reps and do your own research. Your desired wine selections should never override your own limits.
Like a painter working within a defined canvas layout, the art of curating a great wine list is aided with limits. There are countless wineries across the world and the struggle of choosing the right ones to feature are made easier by these kind of boundaries you make for yourself.
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