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Wine Inventory App vs. Spreadsheet for Restaurant Wine Inventory

December 20, 2019

We’re not here to convince you to take your wine or bar inventory. There’s nothing to convince you of. You already know you have to do it. We just want to make it as painless and beneficial as possible.

Taking wine inventory understandably generates little excitement. At its most basic level, it’s counting every bottle of wine you have twice. “Pure tedium!” you bellow, your fist slamming down on a wine storage rack, dust puffing all over.

But it need not be so! At another level, restaurant wine inventory monitors sales patterns, informs buying and pricing strategies, and makes bars money. Now that’s something you can get behind!

There are two ways to do it. First, the ideal, using a wine inventory app. Second, an acceptable if slower method, using a wine inventory spreadsheet.

Here’s how they work.

Wine Inventory App

Wine inventory apps are called many things. A wine organizer app, wine tracker, wine storage app, wine cellar app, wine catalog software, or wine storage software. All the many faces of the wine inventory app’s beautiful soul.

What Is a Wine Inventory App?

A wine inventory app keeps track of every wine bottle that goes in or out of your wine collection. It also keeps track of information associated with each bottle. That allows you to make data-driven buying and pricing decisions as your wine collection or wine program evolves.

Here’s an example of a wine inventory app at work. Let’s say you’re in charge of a restaurant’s 1,000-bottle wine cellar. You’ll fix a barcode to each bottle. Armed with a wine scanner, you’ll scan the barcodes and officially enter each bottle of wine into your wine inventory app’s 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 wine inventory app marks that wine removed.

As time goes on, wines continually enter and exit the database through acquisition and sales or consumption. All that tracked data, viewed historically, paints a broad picture that’s critical to strategic and profitable beverage management.

Pros & Cons of a Wine Inventory App


  • You’re able to leverage analytics to make strategic buying and purchasing decisions. You’ll know when and at what price certain wines sell quickest. You can calculate your pour cost, variance (see: What Is Variance?), par levels, and other important metrics quickly. You’ll know what your most profitable wines are, because you’ll see historical sales patterns against a wine’s vendor cost. In short, you’ll know everything about how your wine program works and exactly how to tweak it for maximum profit.
  • Taking inventory is much faster. Once every bottle has its barcode, taking inventory is a succession of lightning-fast scans. 
  • Cellar management is easier. Because each wine bottle has a listed location in the database, it’s a cinch searching for and finding rack and bin numbers.
  • Encourages visibility of optimal drinking windows and tracking of aging timeframes, making every opened bottle its best self. Tracking wine’s expiration, optimal drinking window, or drink-by date is how to age wine. You’ll be able to enjoy wines when they’re at the peak of their power.
  • Likewise, you’ll avoid wasting expired wine. Knowing when some wines are marching toward their graves allows you to market them aggressively. And wines go bad a lot faster than when liquor expires. No more dumping old wine out. You’ll, instead, be discounting wine that’s close to expiration and saving your bar the inventory shrinkage waste.
  • If you store your entire wine catalog in a wine tracker or a wine organizer app, you can quickly create, update, and modify wine lists. Just export the data in a spreadsheet and use it to create a contactless QR code menu.


  • While nominal, there is a fee to use wine trackers or wine storage apps. But using them offsets the fee almost immediately. How? By the amount of wine you’ll save or the new buying and pricing strategies you’ll adopt. But it’s nevertheless an upfront or monthly fee. And some folks don’t like committing to that, even if the numbers bear it out as an unusually smart decision.
  • It requires some mild embrace of bar and restaurant technology. The vast majority of people see this as a good thing. But there are those out there that would rather use a typewriter instead of a computer or, we don’t know, release a weather balloon to check if it’s raining? If you’re a die-hard traditionalist that loves putting pen to paper when taking restaurant wine inventory, a wine inventory app may not be for you. Better off with a printable wine inventory spreadsheet.

Wine Inventory Spreadsheet

What Is a Wine Cellar Inventory Spreadsheet?

A wine inventory spreadsheet is very much like it sounds. It’s a spreadsheet designed to be filled out manually as you comb through your wine racks and take restaurant wine inventory.

Here’s how to use one. Write down all your wine bottles on the spreadsheet. Count every full bottle as single units. 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 rounding 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 beer keg 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.

Pros & Cons of Wine Inventory Spreadsheets


  • There’s no up-front cost other than printing out the paper, if you choose to print it versus using a wine inventory excel file.
  • That’s honestly about it.


  • It’s not automatic. You will only know your inventory numbers after taking inventory twice and reconciling the difference. That’s as opposed to a wine inventory app which automatically depletes items as they’re sold or used and keeps a perpetually accurate inventory.
  • It’s way slower. Like, orders of magnitude slower. You are not only counting, you are jotting things down as you count, which slows down your counting. Which slows down your jotting. It’s a terrible, drawn-out cycle.
  • It’s prone to errors. While you can conceivably record on a spreadsheet all the information a wine inventory app captures, it’ll be error-prone. The great part about using analytics to drive strategy is that a computer is doing the record keeping and calculating. They’re much faster and more accurate than us. Any data you generate manually is likely to contain errors, which pollutes the data. And contaminates your strategy.

Wine Inventory Management: Automate It

Using a wine inventory management system has a host of benefits. And the cost of any wine inventory management system is almost immediately made up by the increased profitability of any beverage program it touches. It is, hands down, one of the most profitable pieces of restaurant technology out there.

Think about it. You’ll be able to look at your wine cellar or wine program’s historical usage data and know exactly what screws to turn to boost profits. You’ll know from whom to buy what bottles at what price. You’ll know when to set wine glass prices or  wine bottle prices at certain levels based on expiration dates and seasonal sales trends. And you’ll know it all instantly. You won’t have to wait to compare manual inventory numbers to draw your conclusions.

Because that’s what using a wine inventory excel file or spreadsheet does. It mandates that you wait until taking the second inventory before you compare your new inventory to historical numbers. You’re far less agile, and you’re making far fewer and less profitable decisions. Because you’re just not equipped with the data to do so. And even when you get the data, it’s taken you forever and is riddled with errors.

Restaurant Wine Inventory Management with BinWise Pro

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

Contact us to learn more about BinWise Pro—an all-in-one wine inventory management system that automates and speeds up inventory. It saves time, money, and headaches. We’ll show you how.