< back to Blog home
Matthew Krimmel

How to Take Wine Inventory: A Guide For Bars and Restaurants

Table of Contents
Thank you! Check your inbox for details.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Beverage inventory software

“Pure tedium!” you yell, slamming your fist down on a wine storage rack, dust puffing all over, knocking down your wine aerator decanter. You'd rather buy wine like a wine negociant.

We’re not here to convince you to take your wine or bar inventory. You already know you have to do it to master how much bars make. If you're a winery owner, you were thinking about (and dreading) it during the process of buying a winery. And you know that it's usually pretty tedious. It's even a pain for the top 25 Michelin Star restaurants.

But we can help make it as painless and beneficial as possible.

Here we'll walk you through the basics of wine inventory, how to take it, and the tools you can use to make short work of it.

What Is Wine Inventory?

At its most basic level, wine inventory is counting every bottle of wine you have twice. At another level, restaurant wine inventory monitors sales patterns. It also informs buying and pricing strategies and makes bars money.

Taking inventory allows you to calculate lots of important metrics quickly.

Metrics like:

Your pour cost, variance, excess inventory, and par levels.

How to Take Wine Inventory

Taking your wine inventory can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you have multiple cellars, a very large storage area, or even warehousing. To make things even more complicated, there are two ways to take your wine inventory.

First, the ideal way, using a wine inventory app. Second, an acceptable but slower method to inventory wine is using a spreadsheet such as a Google Sheets inventory template.

Let's take a look at how they both work.

Wine Inventory App: Wine Tracking App

A wine inventory app or bar inventory app or wine tracker keeps track of every wine bottle that goes in or out of your wine collection and wine bottle displays.

It's a bar and restaurant technology that allows you to make data-driven buying and pricing decisions. All as your wine collection or program evolves.

Here's how it works:

Let’s say you’re in charge of a restaurant’s 1,000-bottle wine cellar. You’ll fix a bar code to each bottle. Armed with a wine scanner, you’ll scan the bar codes and officially enter each bottle of wine into your database.

Each wine bottle can have an assortment of information associated with it. Varietal, vintage, cost, price, rack or bin location, date added, date removed, etc. When you sell a wine and ring it up on your restaurant or bar POS system, your app marks that wine removed.

All that tracked data paints a broad picture that's useful for successful beverage inventory management. You’ll know when to set wine glass prices or wine bottle prices at certain levels. All based on expiration dates and seasonal sales trends.

The best part of using a wine tracking app is that it gives you real-time access to your inventory levels anytime, anywhere. That's why we make sure all BinWise Pro customers get access to our BinScan app, a free barcode scanner app for inventory. You can scan, upload, adjust, and track inventory levels right on your phone.

Even better, all data is automatically synced with your BinWise inventory system so you can act on that data immediately. No more trying to figure out how many ounces in a wine bottle manually.

Free bar inventory management ebook

Wine Inventory Spreadsheet

No, let's talk about wine inventory spreadsheets. Write down all your wine bottles on the spreadsheet. Count every full bottle as a single unit. For opened and used wine bottles, you can inspect how much liquid is inside by dividing the bottle into ten parts in your mind. Then round up to the nearest tenth.

For example, if your bottle is halfway full, round it up to either 0.5 or 50% full. This is the process of tenthing and is also useful for draft beer inventory.

Make sure to keep track of bottles that you receive from your distributors in between inventory periods. That’s necessary when you need to calculate your bar's inventory usage later. When you have to take a second inventory, whether in a week, two weeks, or a month, simply repeat the steps above.

If you choose to go the spreadsheet route, we'll give you a hand. We put together a guide and a free wine inventory spreadsheet to help you get started. You can download it and fill it out digitally or print it out for a pen-and-paper experience.

How to Organize Wine Bottles

Here are 4 tips to organize your wine bottles, which will only make wine inventory easier:

1-Organize by Varietal, Profile, Region, Vintage, or Price

When looking for a bottle of wine in their collection, most people start with one of these, then they narrow it down. How do you fundamentally conceive of and remember wine? Is it by the type of grape? The part of the world the wine is from? Maybe even whether or not they're gluten-free wine brands.

There's no wrong answer.

Your collection should mirror how you instinctually think of wine. If you say to yourself "I'd like something Italian tonight," then do the inventory organization by geography. If you think "I'd like something light-bodied," then organize by flavor profile.

There is a benefit of organizing by vintage, though- you can keep tabs on optimal drinking windows for your wine. This is because similar wines of similar vintages will reach their drinking windows at a similar time.

2-Use Wine Tags

Because it's best to store wine bottles horizontally, labels are often obscured. That's why people use wine tags.

On a wine tag, you write whatever information is relevant to your organization. You could even use different colored tags to communicate countries, years, or varietals.

3-Use a Home Wine Inventory System

Home wine cellars are just as important to keep track of as a bar or restaurant. Your wine deserves the same treatment and systems in place to get the most out of it.

We strongly recommend using wine cellar online management for your home wine inventory system. Spreadsheets can be unwieldy and more geared toward businesses.

You also always have a phone on you at home, so it’s very convenient.

4-Use a Wine Bin System

A wine bin number system is a method of organizing your wine cellar by numbering each wine storage rack or “bin”. This is typically for larger wine collections.

These numbers are perfect for taking inventory. They provide more insight into where each bottle being accounted for is stored. They can be used with both a wine inventory app and a spreadsheet.

With a wine bin system, you can track each bin independently. And you know each wine’s expiration (see: does alcohol expire), optimal drinking window, or drink-by-date as you age the wine.

Remember, wines go bad a lot faster than when liquor expires. You can use this information to discount wine close to expiration and save your bar the inventory shrinkage waste.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Catalog Wine?

Here are several ideas to catalog and categorize your wine collection:

1- Organize by region, varietal, color, vintage, or price.

2- Use wine tags.

3- Use a home wine inventory system.

4- Use a wine bin system.

What Is the Best Way to Store Wine?

Your main goal should be to store your wine in a dark and dry place to preserve its great taste. If you can't keep it entirely away from light, store it inside a box or wrap it in a cloth. If you choose a cabinet for storing your wine, make sure it has solid or UV-resistant doors.

Can I store wine upright?

Don't store your bottle of wine upright for a long-term period. When your bottle is upright, the wine isn't touching the cork. This results in the cork drying out, leaving you with a wine that's musty and smells bad.

Beverage inventory software

Restaurant Wine Inventory Management with BinWise Pro

Staying on top of your liquor inventory control is one of the most important bar manager duties. The best way to avoid reducing the value of your wine bottles is by taking wine inventory regularly and accurately.

When it's done well, you might even see your wine list become more popular than ever or make the cut as the best wine list in your area. You might also want to learn how much sugar is in wine or calories in white wine to help your sommeliers be better informed about your wine selection.

Contact us to learn more about BinWise Pro. It's an all-in-one wine inventory management system that automates and speeds up inventory. It saves time, money, and headaches.

Book a Demo
Reduce inventory counting time by as much as 85%. Schedule a demo now:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.