How To Up-Sell Wine At Your Restaurant

How To Up-Sell Wine At Your Restaurant

Increasing alcohol sales is a great way to take your business from the red and put it back in black. Restaurants earn the highest profit margins on their beverages. The typical soda is marked up between 300 and 500 percent. For alcoholic beverages, the markup is often 500 to 600 percent. In addition, tables that have wine often have larger dining tabs and are more likely to order dessert and appetizers as well, adding up to more profits with each bite. Because of this, restaurants that serve alcohol tend to have much better margins than those that do not.

However, according to a 2014 analysis by Technomic, alcohol consumption is down due to adults who are paying more attention to their pocketbooks at the dinner table. So how do we increase wine sales in a time when the overall trend of the industry is down? There are a few tricks of the trade sure to have you toasting your own success.

Converting Servers to Sellers

The ability to sell takes a great server and turns them into your most valuable asset. Train your servers to be sellers by teaching them the basics of wine selection and handling so they can select, present, open, and pour wine with confidence. Wine is complex, but a great salesperson does not necessarily need to have extensive knowledge, he just needs a hefty dose of confidence and salesmanship. If the server is shy or uncomfortable handling wine, they will be less likely to offer it. Offer regular wine training to your staff to keep everyone up to date and confident in wine sales.

Bottle vs. Glass

To succeed at wine sales, you must be prepared to provide wine both by the glass and by the bottle. Nevertheless, which method is preferred, and which method is better for your profits? Wine critic and renowned enologist Frank Prial, said Americans prefer wine by the glass. However, selling wine by the bottle tableside tends to drive up sales.

Selling wine by the bottle is more efficient for the customer, and increases positive interaction between the wait staff and the customer. For example, selecting and choosing a wine gives the server an opportunity to talk with the customer and make menu or appetizer suggestions. This interaction translates into time that is more meaningful with guests, increasing both food and beverage sales. Bottles increase efficiently because servers are not constantly running back to the bar for refills, which decreases the number of glasses used and leaves the server to focus on more guests.

If you prefer to sell by the glass, offering guests a reason to order more than one glass is the best way to increase sales. Incorporate a wine-by-the-glass program to provide guests with an opportunity to try different varieties of wines.

Wine Sale Basics

To get wine onto every table, there are a few basic tips that can be used with each customer throughout the night:

  • Assume everyone wants wine. Instead of asking if they'd like wine, ask whether they would prefer red or white.
  • Wine drinkers prefer drinking chilled wine straight out of a wine cooler
  • Make wine the priority. Once the order is taken, get the wine to the table as fast as possible with an efficient retrieval system for bottles.
  • Upsell. When a table orders two glasses, always offer the full bottle. When emptying a bottle, don't ask if they'd like another, instead, ask if they'd like the same or a different variety.


  1. comment authorAdam Rankine Apr 10, 2019

    It is important to sell wines that are compatible also that you are serving in the restaurant. More likely this article will give you more learnings about serving wine and ways to earn more profit because of it.

  2. comment authorLiam Jul 31, 2019

    You said right in that post the sales of beverages is a profitable business. Now this time alcoholic beverages, the markup is often 500 to 600 percent which shows a huge profit. I am not a wine sellar but you said exactly what i think. How to set the on wine table, how to present, how to set wine menu for customer and sitting plan. These are the best tricks to earn huge profit.

  3. comment authorEileen Benson Sep 30, 2019

    I like your advice to train servers so they can sell wine better. My brother wants to open a restaurant and get a liquor license so he can serve alcohol there. Your tips should help him make more money from selling wine there!

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