It’s a night out on the town for your guests. They’re so excited to be at your fine establishment to enjoy the cuisine that their friends have been raving about for weeks. Your servers are welcoming, the decor reflects your unique style, and the ambience is perfectly set with a well tailored playlist.
Now, for the drink order. Does your drink menu compliment the delicious food that you and your chef have perfected? Does your wine list leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth or have them saying ‘I’ll have another round’?
We know that restaurant owners are often conflicted about serving house wines. To do it? Or not to do it?
Our vote: house wine it up!
Let’s break this stigma that assumes house wine is the cheap stuff restaurants are trying to get rid of. House wine can be a strategic and tasteful choice you make to offer a preferred selection of red and white.
Not everyone will take you up on your house wine. But for those who do, the perfect house wine selection can make it easy for your customers to choose a tasty and affordable wine by the glass. Remember that not all patrons actually feel comfortable enough tasting a wine to be chosen for the table.
The moral of the story? Make it simple.
In order for your house wine to hit the mark, there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind. Here are our top three things to think about when choosing your house wine.
1. Find A Wine That You Like
This one sounds way too obvious. Find a wine that you like. But we find that this qualifier isn’t always considered.
When opening a restaurant, individuals are able to bring their own styles to the table. And their wine list.
Patrons can taste authenticity and passion in every bite and in every sip. So, we recommend that you start with those tastes, flavors, and grapes that you’re personally drawn to.
Build on those by taking the time to engage in meaningful tastings. Call on sommeliers that you trust. Don’t know one? No biggy.
Social media is also booming with wine-related conversations for experts and amateurs alike. Just search #housewine and see what happens!
Based on your personal reaction to the various wines that you taste, create a short list of options in the price range that you’re aiming for.
2. Think about your Key Menu Features
The key to curating a successful house wine selection is ensuring that it compliments your featured menu items perfectly.
Opening up an Italian restaurant? That usually means heavier sauces will be on your menu. The body of your wine should likely be medium or heavy. Think Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux blends.
Or, will chicken be featured in many of your entrees? Steer toward light to medium bodied options like Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chianti or a Spanish Rioja.
Rule of thumb: The fattier the dish, the heavier the body of your red wine.
The same goes for white wines. So, heavier dishes call for an oaked Chardonnay or Riesling, while lighter dishes pair beautifully with Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
If you’d rather play it safe since your menu has a mixture of heavy and light dishes, pick wines that are in the middle. Medium-bodied wines ensure that the palates of patrons choosing from a variety of your specialties will enjoy their vino.
3. Consider Local
If you’ve read our blog posts before, you know we’re suckers for supporting local businesses.
Be local. As you open or take ownership of an establishment, we encourage you to consider vineyards in your area that produce high quality wines.
By choosing a local producer, you can showcase their flavors at your restaurant and partake in a mutually beneficial partnership.
Oftentimes, these local wineries are not able to grow the high volumes of grapes required to sell at numerous liquor stores. Why not give your patrons the opportunity to sample them in your neighborhood?
Reach out to local vineyards as you explore the grapes, flavors, and tastes that you’re drawn to.
You never know - the perfect flavor might be just down the highway!
By considering these three factors, we think that the next time your guests are asked for their drink of choice, they’ll be saying: “I’ll have the house red!”
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