We here at BinWise are proudly in the business of wine lists. We peruse them with great interest when dining. We look at wine menu apps when we’re bored. We think critically about what makes a good wine list great. And, of course, we help bars and restaurants across the country transform their wine lists. By using a QR code for a restaurant menu or wine list. Menus turn from inconvenient, expensive, and dirty paper scraps to nimble, clean QR code menus.
We love looking at wine lists because it helps us keep our finger on the pulse of what great wine programs are doing. And that allows us to create the best possible products for the bars and restaurants we work with. But there are a whole heck of a lot of amazing wine lists out there, so we did ourselves a favor. And, by extension, maybe we did fellow wine list enthusiasts a favor.
We wanted to qualify all the wine lists out there, to get a better picture of what works and what doesn’t. So we set out to uncover two things.
First, what the most popular wine lists in America are. That tells us that these wine lists are actively sought out and there’s something to learn from them. And second, what the best wine lists in the country are. If a wine list or digital wine list is consistently highly-rated by the greater wine community, they’re obviously doing something right. And, again, we can learn from that.
Below are some of the findings. In each section, we briefly explain the methodology, provide some results, then link out to posts that address each study further. We hope you find it as enlightening as we did.
The Most Popular Wine Lists in America
To figure out the country’s most popular wine lists, we looked through pages of search engine data. The wine lists that people typed into Google and searched most often we equate with the most popular wine lists in America. They may be associated with the most popular restaurants, sure. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re the wine lists people are seeking out most frequently. To us, that means they’re working. Regardless of the type of concept they’re attached to.
Below are numbers 25 through 11. Check out the post linked to above to see the entire list, along with our thoughts about each wine list.
25. Outback Wine List
24. Texas Roadhouse Wine List
23. Red Lobster Wine List
22. Per Se Wine List
21. Morton's Wine List
20. Maggiano's Wine List
19. Le Bernardin Wine List
18. Del Posto Wine List
17. Canlis Wine List
16. Bern’s Steakhouse Wine List
15. Seasons 52 Wine List
14. Peter Luger Wine List
13. Keens Steakhouse Wine List
12. J Alexander's Wine List
11. Fogo De Chao Wine List
To see the top 10, pop over to our Most Popular Wine Lists in America that we linked to above and have a gander.
The Best Wine Lists in America
To determine the best wine lists in the country, we surveyed all the wine authorities we could find online. Every so often a reputable outfit will publish a “Best Wine Lists” post. We cobbled together every single one we could—only from reliable sources, of course.
Then we counted up how many times every wine list showed up across all these rankings. We noted the wine lists that showed up the most and used that as a proxy for “best.” Of course, there is no best wine list. Every great wine list is great in its own way.
We didn’t rank them relative to each other. We just chose the most consistently high-rated wine lists in the country. So they’re the 10 wine lists that get about as close to the best as possible.
The French Laundry
Bern’s Steak House
Restaurant Gary Danko
Eleven Madison Park
That’s all of ‘em! But you should check out the post linked to above for our full reviews of each wine list.
What Makes a Wine List Good?
You can start untangling that answer by looking over the wine lists that are consistently sought out or highly rated. Sure, it may seem strange that we’re talking about Outback Steakhouse’s wine list. But Outback Steakhouse has a lot of resources. There are undoubtedly very smart people thinking about how to create the most compelling wine menu for Outback’s clientele. Menu engineering comes in many shapes and sizes.One thing you may notice is that a lot of these wine lists live online now. Contactless menus are fast becoming a necessity in hospitality. They’re the perfect answer for a cash-strapped industry that needs to react to today’s reality quickly and confidently.
BinWise helps bars and restaurants across the country roll out lightweight, agile digital menus that businesses love. They love them because they save money, they save time, and they do the good work of actualizing a germ-free dining experience. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, that’s what people want.