10 Expert Tips for Selling Wine

A dust-covered bottle of wine might be desirable in a well-stocked cellar… but if bottles of your finest wines are sitting idle and collecting dust on your wine store shelves, you (and your customers) might not be as thrilled.

Are your highest-margin items languishing on shelves while mass-market labels walk out the door? You're missing out on profits and opportunities if you’re not capturing your customers’ attention and encouraging them to try new wines and update their palates. But how can you get customers to branch out and explore these options?

In this article, we’ll cover 10 tips to help you sell more wine in your liquor store, so you can equip your team with the right knowledge and skills to make it happen. 

Tips for Selling Wine: How To Increase Revenue 

Before we dive into our tips for selling wine more effectively, let’s answer a critical question: Why is selling wine so challenging? Wine is more complex than other alcohol categories in numerous ways.

Related Read: 4 Ways To Attract Customers to Your Wine Mart

Wine varietals are famous for being diverse. Your staff must understand all the nuances of their flavor varieties and purposes to effectively guide customers through their options to find the perfect bottle for their taste and occasion. This specialized knowledge is what builds reputation and loyalty for wine retailers.

Some of the unique considerations for wine sales professionals include:

  • Complex Variety: Wine differences are bigger than just “reds” and “whites.” Wines cover various grape styles, blends, properties, and flavor profiles. Plus, wine drinkers often have strong opinions about their wine tastes. For example, a consistent wine drinker may turn their nose up at a sauvignon blanc simply because the grapes are from California rather than New Zealand — and, yes, the wine drinker truly can tell the difference. 
  • Vintage: Unlike spirits or beer, the same blend from a certain winery will vary depending on the year. Why? Because the seasonal climate fluctuations impact each year’s grape harvest. A wine connoisseur will know their favorite (and least favorite) vintages. A great wine salesperson can recommend various vintages based on their distinctive flavor profiles. 
  • Food Pairings: Wine is special in that it pairs well with complementary food combinations that accentuate or diminish certain notes. Your wine store sales potential may depend deeply on pairing expertise driving purchases for planned occasions.

With this in mind, let’s dive into our expert tips for selling wine. 

1. Offer Monthly Wine Tastings 

One way to improve your store's wine sales is to promote monthly theme nights and wine tastings. Select a specific grape varietal like malbec or a region like Napa and allow participants to taste various wines of that type or from that region. Waive typical tasting fees for wine club members as an exclusive perk. 

Pair tastings with light bites that complement the wines’ flavor profiles. Provide take-home recipe cards for featured pairings so visitors picturing a full meal will be more inclined to buy bottles missing from their kitchen. You should also position similar varietals or other wines from the featured region in a suggested shopping display for easy pickup on the way out.

Tip: Ensure your liquor license allows for on-site tastings before exploring this option for your store.

2. Train Staff on Wine Fluency 

If you want to guide customers effectively, you need to ensure your staff can talk the talk. Our second tip for selling more wine in your store is to require staff to participate in weekly education sessions focused on building their wine expertise. Cover one varietal each week and give employees cheat sheets as an easy reference to help them address common customer questions.

Set monthly wine consultation sales goals for staff. Recognize those excelling and provide them with exclusive rewards. Think beyond traditional bonuses and consider offering experiential rewards like wine trips or other prizes. 

3. Provide Food Pairing Tags 

Increase basket sizes by tagging every wine with suggested food pairings that best complement its flavor notes. You can group bottles by dominant buttery, fruity, oaked, and other taste profiles. When browsing your selection, if your customers can picture a complete meal, they may be more likely to try a new variety or purchase multiple bottles with similar pairing recommendations. 

Offer discounts when customers buy featured bottles displayed beside tagged recipe ingredients on the same trip. Capture contact information at checkout when promotions are redeemed, and follow up later with pairing-inspired recipes to maintain top-of-mind awareness for their favorite wines and help provide maximum value. 

Related Read: Winery Branding: 6 Steps to Making Your Store Stand Out

4. Institute Staff Incentives 

We briefly touched on staff incentives earlier, but if you want to sell more wine in your store, staff incentives should be a cornerstone of your approach. Define monthly volume goals for labels you want to move based on inventory needs. Motivate staff performance toward targets by instituting a points-based reward system for hitting certain plateaus. Then, let staff redeem points and use those toward experiences, cash prizes, or other rewards. 

You can also develop an internal wine ambassador program. This program will use sales data to reward employees for exceeding expectations. Capitalize on their pride by having ambassadors suggest staff picks and marking those picks with special labels in your store.

5. Create a Wine Club 

Every customer wants to feel like they’re special. Invite your most loyal customers to receive exclusive benefits and discounts by creating a wine club for your store. You can then offer sign-up specials like coupons, custom wine glasses, or other benefits. 

Make membership meaningful by granting exclusive early access to limited release finds otherwise not available to regular customers. You can also host free signature tasting events or pairing dinners for wine club members.

Capture key details on enrollment like price comfort zones, typical consumption occasions, and favorite varietal themes. Use profiles to curate personalized selections and to optimize your store’s product mix to delight your best customers.  

6. Design Special Wine Destinations 

This suggestion may not work for every store, but if your location allows for it, you may consider constructing a dedicated wine cellar below your store. Keep your signature collection of rare, high-end bottles here and store them under strict climate control and lighting conditions. You can then restrict access to this premium collection to wine club members or other exclusive groups, giving your store a layer of prestige.

You may also want to explore offering monthly chef-paired meals guided by a resident sommelier, focused exclusively on limited allocation finds direct from boutique winemakers. The exclusivity entices customers to make aspirational purchases and join your wine club to participate in the fun. 

7. Leverage Customer Data 

Your store’s point of sale (POS) data is a goldmine for learning how you can optimize your store’s wine sales. Catalog purchase varieties, price ranges, consumption habits, and flavor preference feedback. Store this data in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool or point of sale solution. Record if shoppers typically drink wines solo, gift bottles, cook with certain varieties, etc. to refine customer profiles and optimize marketing outreach and other offerings. 

Make data-driven suggestions for new arrivals or inventory that aligns with historical behaviors. Send targeted e-newsletters when specific grape varietals or winemaker production matching your customers’ documented favorites becomes available to personalize offers based on unique palates.

8. Offer Case Discounts or Engraving Services 

A nice bottle of wine makes a thoughtful gift for a wine connoisseur; chances are, many of your customers are shopping for a loved one or an acquaintance. Appeal to gift givers and frequent drinkers by promoting discounted prices for bottles purchased by the full case instead of individually. For more customizable appeal, offer laser engraving services turning bottles into personalized presents.

Curate preselected mixed cases with varied flavors and wine types that align with major seasonal occasions. This offering introduces customers to more options at lower risk rather than just sticking to the wines they know. Be sure to capture contact data with case purchases to market future variety.

9. Foster Distributor Relationships 

You need to forge long-term relationships with your distributors to earn a reputation as the go-to destination for specialty wines. Negotiate deals like exclusive first rights with local wineries or distributors to position your shop as the place to go for wines customers can’t find anywhere else. 

Request to be informed early about emerging winemakers entering your state market. Being the first to promote new niche labels enhances standing as a premier regional expert, while potentially securing loyalty from wineries and brands you’re able to put on the map for your customers. 

10. Feature Staff Picks 

Finally, if you want to position yourself and your staff as wine experts worthy of giving recommendations, you should feature staff picks on your shelves. 

Print attractive shelf labels providing the backstory behind monthly staff picks. Which staff member selected this wine? What made this wine stand out? Share any personal experiences sampling the wine or interacting with winemakers. Have the touting employee serve live samples on select weekends.

The more you spotlight your employees' passion and knowledge levels, the more credible your broad wine selection becomes. Connecting wines to real people’s palates builds trust while showcasing your commitment to continuing wine education professionally and personally.

Becoming an Expert Wine Seller 

Selling more wine in your liquor or wine shop is all about understanding and celebrating the intricacies and nuances of your selection. Strong wine sales professionals must understand more than just the basics to help customers pick the right wine every time. However, helping customers with their selection is only one piece of the puzzle for running a successful wine shop. 

If you want to run your store the right way, you need a point of sale solution that helps you track SKUs, sell wine by the case or the bottle, verify customer ages, and process multiple payment types with speed and precision. Bottle POS is a point of sale solution designed specifically for wine and liquor stores, giving you all the features you need and none of the expensive add-ons you don’t. 

Schedule a personalized Bottle POS demo today to experience how our solution can help you focus more on helping customers and less time dealing with the minutiae of inventory and checkout processes. 

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