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Wine lists can be powerful merchandising tools that should be thoughtfully designed. Restaurant operators and observers have offered many suggestions regarding how to present a wine list to improve sales, but few direct tests of these notions have been published. Based on design and content attributes extracted from 270 wine lists from restaurants in several major metropolitan areas across the United States, this study evaluated the extent to which thirty wine-list characteristics coincided with higher wine sales. Overall, restaurants with higher wine sales tend to have wine lists that (1) are included on the food menu, (2) do not include a dollar sign ($) in the price format, (3) include more mentions of wine from a specific set of wineries, and (4) include a “Reserve” category of wines. On the other hand, using “Wine Style” as a major organizational category was associated with reduced sales. For casual dining restaurants specifically, higher wine sales were related to extensive wine lists that have a length of approximately 150 bottles of wine as compared to lists with fewer or more bottles, and with wine lists that offer more low-cost wines. Neither of these factors showed any effect in fine-dining restaurants.


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