A wine list is a list of wines written on a bill of fare. Wine lists are presented and offered like menus and usually in conjunction with them. While in some restaurants, a wine list is included on the restaurant's main menu, wine lists can also be offered on separate menus.
Wine lists are meant to provide a customer with a selection of wines from which to choose for purchase. Besides informing customers of what types of wines the restaurant offers, wine lists can also help a customer select a wine based on personal preference. Prior wine knowledge will help the average customer select a wine out of the many that are listed on the menu, but extensive knowledge is not required to select a suitable wine for a single person, a large party or a specific occasion.
When someone looks at the typical wine list, he may first notice that the wine list is organized into sections. Many restaurants separate the wine selection into two general sections: white wine and red wine. However, some restaurants may add additional categories such as rosé wines and dessert wines. It is also not uncommon to come across a wine list that is categorized by grape type, wine style, variety, region, country or specialty. Regardless of the way that a restaurant chooses to categorize its wines, they are usually presented from lightest wine down to heaviest wine.
A sommelier, or a highly trained wine waiter, will often provide a wine list to patrons. Sommeliers may aid customers by answering questions about the wines available for purchase or even offer suggestions. They may also be charged with composing wine lists and informing other restaurant staff members about wines.
Wine lists will include wine prices. These prices will reflect the cost of wine per glass or bottle. However, some restaurants do allow customers to bring their own wines to the table, provided that they pay what a restaurant will deem a corkage fee. This fee is meant to recoup any losses that that the restaurant might have incurred, since the customer declined to the order from the wine list.
In addition to being offered at restaurants, a wine list can be presented at wineries and wine stores. These lists can be employed during wine testing events, where those in attendance may select a wine from the list to taste. Tasters may also use the lists to learn more about the wines that they are imbibing. Some wine lists will include information about wine producers, the years in which they were made, best food pairings and other miscellaneous facts.