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Jan 20, 2013 02:48 PM

trying to build a wine list

So I am helping out some friends who own a really good BBQ Restaurant. Right now the wines kinds suck.. I have got them more exposure and the big thing is a better wine selection,

Rules $6 a bottle

This is what I have come up with so far

Beringer white merllot 08
Barefoot Cellars Resling
Jacobs Creek Shiraz-Cab 07 (Just because I like blends)

Trouble I'm having is with a cab.

Look don't flame me ..I actually love this place and am trying to help.

There are smarter people on this board and I was just trying to leverage that.

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  1. I would at some inexpensive Granachas from Spain or some Malbecs from Argentina.

    Like this one:
    Or this one:

    1. Have your friends contacted any local wine distributors?

      1 Reply
      1. re: wineguy7

        That's what I am trying to do steps great people doing every thing food great wise (from scratch every day) . hooked them up with a local beer brewer just to upgrade the wine.

        and thanks 4wino I will research those both.

      2. Chris, if I assume the sauce is served on the side, then zinfandel and cabernet are also nice with pork, lamb, and beef.

        For a smoked BBQ chicken or turkey, chardonnay is great. I also like a marsanne for bbq poultry but you probably won't find as good a selection as with chardonnay.

        But if the meats are served slathered in sauce then you just have to line your wines up and taste each wine with each meat & sauce combo to find the best matches.

        You might also suggest your friend feature a BBQ and wine pairing event from time to time, this could bring in some new clientele and be very news-worthy in food circles in your area. Please report back the combos you end up liking the best.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TombstoneShadow

          Everything including the wings is smoked ...and your right sauce on the side. Very good idea about the wine pairing event.

        2. Chris,

          So many questions, so little time . . . but after 35 years in the wine trade, I hope I can narrow it down.

          First, WHERE is the restaurant? I don't want the address, but rather what state -- and, if in California, what city?

          SECOND, is the "$6/bottle" you quote the wholesale price limit per bottle? the retail price? or the wine list price?

          THIRD, what sort of alcoholic beverage license does the establishment have?

          9 Replies
          1. re: zin1953

            Great questions.

            Just don't do anything boring.

            Consumers have so many choices that if the wine is awful, folks won't come back. Take the time to choose the right wines, especially if this will be a newly opened spot. First impressions and hip "X-factor" are everything -- you'll want and need the buzz.

            See what great BBQ restaurants are serving first, and
            use that as a starting point.

            Choosing wines without tasting them with your menu items
            would be a mistake. Don't succumb to pressure that you have to have a Cab or a this or a that when those wines may not go with BBQ. Only a few wines actually work.

            Don't carry more than a half-dozen wines if this is a new place, and keep the inventory lean.

            Consider beer too, because your price is so tight.

            Of the recommendations so far, Garnacha/Grenache is the only one I've seen that would work with BBQ, provided the price works.

            Don't think you're going to find many red wines at a price point that will work for you, but red wine at a lower price point doesn't work with BBQ anyway (usually). Just had some Garnacha/Grenache last night with spicy food, and it went surprisingly well.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              "Choosing wines without tasting them with your menu items
              would be a mistake..."

              Amen, that's the bottom line.

              "Consider beer too,..."

              Definitely... try a couple high-quality wheat beers... Konig-Ludwig is a benchmark for me. There's alot of great wheat micro-brews in the US too. Wheat beer tends to accompany higher-spiced and smoked foods better than other richer beer varieties.

              "...because your price is so tight..."

              why a $6 bottle cost limit? A what price will your friends retail the wine? Are they serving by the glass or carafe or bottle or?? Seems like you could push that cost factor up a bit since it's a "really good restaurant".

              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                We did beer.... did a tasting with iron fist...great beer great people.
                Their Double Fisted with the ribs worked insanely well.

                1. re: chris2269

                  I've not had that particular beer, but it's in the dubbel trappist ale style category. Here's a ratings list of beers in that style:

                  In order to generate business within the beer afficionado community you might host a beer and bbq tasting at the restaurant if that's permitted by local beverage laws.... develop a reputation for having beer and wine pairings that really match the excellent bbq and take it to the next level in flavor and add $$$ to the bottom line in the process.

                  1. re: chris2269

                    That is a great idea. The San Diego area has a lot of great breweries which you should leverage for your beer list. One of my favorite breweries is Alpine. They make very clean, hoppy IPAs, not sure how it will go with your BBQ but very good beers.

              2. re: zin1953

                Thanks for your time first off.
                $6 their price

                wine and beer only

                1. re: chris2269

                  I found out the hard way many years ago to ask for help when picking the beverage list.

                  Hopefully you have at least 3 distributors for your area. Comp the sales people a complete range of what is on the menu. Ask for their recommendations to be evaluated on the restaurants day off. Put at least a couple hours between each distributor. Keep copious notes. And I would recommend at least 3 of the tasters be female customers.

                  And your profit margins are much better off with wine than beer. At least here in Florida.

                  1. re: chris2269

                    The problem you will have is one of volume. No company is going to deliver ONE case of wine to an establishment at a cost of $72/case. Most companies have a three case or $xxx minimum to deliver; some, 5 cases or $xxx.

                    So, in order to facilitate your buying, I would stick to ONE of the larger wholesalers from which to purchase all of your wine. That's not an ideal situation, but no BBQ joint is going to seel LOTS of wine, and if they do, you can always expand. But I'd certainly start small. Have the owners call Southern Wines & Spirits, Young's Market, and Henry Wine Group. Ask each of them to have a sales rep come by to drop off a book.

                    1) Decide on how many wines in total they want to carry. I'd start small; you can always add more wines later if and when sales begin to increase.

                    2) Don't limit yourself to one winery (which may indeed be what the reps will suggest), nor to one country -- though, in Oceanside, there may be something to sticking with California. Look to Spain, South America, California,

                    3) Go through each book, and look for Garnacha (Grenache), Cabernet (if you must), Malbec, rosé or blush, Riesling or Chenin with a slight degree or rs, and a Chardonnay or white blend for people who fear Rieslings. Keep the price point at $72/case or less wholesale.

                    4) When finished, see which of the three companies offer you the most options. Have that rep return, with some samples.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Sound advice! In fact, the only advice you need.

                2. I second the Malbec idea... we drink lots of it, and it's often inexpensive and highly drinkable. It's not for a snoody wine tasting, but it's almost never terrible. :)

                  Since you asked for an inexpensive Cab, how about this one:

                  This site lists it at 7.50 a bottle, but I routinely see it for 6 or less (It's $5.25 here)...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mrssmithcooks

                    Will those wines not clash with the restaurant's BBQ?

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      <Will those wines not clash with the restaurant's BBQ?>

                      Imho they probably will. Cabernets in general don't go very well with barbecue. Neither do Malbecs. too much tannin to compliment the sauces. Zinfandels (red, not white) Grenache/Garnacha, and Rhone blends tend to work better with this kind of food. And off-dry Rieslings.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        thanks we have a meeting with a wine merchant Thursday ...agree with the Zin and Reslings.

                        Again thank everyone ...much love.