If you recall, the folks at VinoServant did a guest post for this blog in February 2012 that discussed tips on how to buy wine in a restaurant. They have recently released a new site (www.vinoservant.com) and application (Phone and Tablet for IOS and Android) that make it easier for wine drinkers to navigate restaurant wine lists.At the present time, VinoServant is focused on reviewing restaurant wine lists in the San Francisco Bay Area, and they are interested in getting feedback from readers of GoodCheapVino.com. I know our readers love a wine bargain and perhaps VinoServant can further help us in our endeavor to find the “Ultimate Wine Bargain.” There is no fee to use the site or application, so I would encourage you to give it a try. You can send all comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many wine Apps out there, but this is the first one that I have come across that compares restaurant wine prices to retail prices. I also like that they have created a formula to calculate a fair price for a bottle of wine in a restaurant (Ideal Restaurant Price), and they provide a description of the wine and where it can be purchased on the retail level.
Below is a description of VinoServant from creator Josh Moser and how the site and application work.
VinoServant was started to help consumers make wine buying decisions in restaurants and at wine retailers. It is not our desire to have the largest wine database in the world. Instead, our goal is to build a database of wines for sale at restaurants and retailers. We believe that this will lead to increased wine sales, and empower wine drinkers to try new and exciting wines. On the restaurant side, we take a wine list and show our customers the 15 to 45 best values on that wine list. If a customer is dining in a restaurant we have not reviewed, they will be able to use our search engine to find the wine in our database and see the “IDEAL RESTAURANT PRICE” along with a tasting note and prices at retailers and restaurants. We are still in the process of building out our database, and in the event we don’t have a wine you are looking for, then please hit the “Add Wine” button at the bottom to let us know. On the retail side, we provide prices from top wine stores in large metropolitan areas, and our customers can purchase bottles of wine from these retailers with a few clicks.
Our site and application provides answers to these questions that people ask when deciding on what bottle of wine to purchase:
- What is the mark-up over retail price (2009 Groth Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc | $45 | 2.5x – Mark-up of 2.5x translates into a retail price of $18), and what does it cost in other restaurants?
- What does it taste like (winemaker’s tasting notes or professional review)?
- Where can I buy it locally and what does it cost at other retailers?
How it Works
We built this application so that customers can easily look up wines by entering the name of a wine or keyword in the Search Box, or by touching one of the countries. The number next to the countries represent actual bottles in our database. When you view a wine that is in our database you will see the “Ideal Restaurant Price” along with a description of the wine, and prices at restaurants and retailers. The “Ideal Restaurant Price” is what we feel is a fair price for that wine in a restaurant.
If you download our application you will also have the ability to hit the “Drink” and “Favorite” buttons, and the wine will then be saved so that you can view it later. At this time, this function does not work from our desktop or mobile site because we are not asking you to create a user name or password. This will change in the near future. The “Share” button will allow you to send information about the wine to Facebook, Twitter and Google +.
On each wine page in our database you will see prices at restaurants followed by an “x” after the name of the restaurant ($60 at Harris’ Restaurant San Francisco | 2.4x). That number signifies the mark-up that the restaurant is placing on the wine in excess of its retail price ($60 – 2.4x translates into an average retail price of $25).
Restaurant Wine List Reviews: Initially, we are only reviewing restaurant wine lists in San Francisco as we formalize the process. When viewing one of our wine list reviews customers will see that we list the 15 to 45 best values on that restaurant’s wine list. Stay tuned because once we work out the kinks in San Francisco, we are going to start reviewing restaurant wine lists in your city.
If a customer is dining in a restaurant that we have not reviewed, we highly encourage you to use the Search function to look up wines that you are considering to make sure you are getting a fair price. Remember we show the “Ideal Restaurant Price and this reflects what we feel is a fair price for the wine. If the price at the restaurant is a few dollars higher than our “Ideal Restaurant Price”, don’t sweat it, go ahead and order it.
Here are some of the special features of our application:
Add Wine: This feature allows customers to send us information on a wine that they would like us to add to our database. We ask for the customer’s zip code because, in the future, we will send an email with a list of stores that sell the wine.
Last 10: This button takes our customers to a screen that lists the Last 10 wines they viewed. From this screen they will also be able to see their Favorite and Consumed wines. If a customer is in a restaurant and looks up 5 wines, and then wants to go back to the 1st wine, just hit Last 10, to easily pull up those wines.
Favorites: Touch this button to see all the wines the customer has marked as a Favorite.
Retailers: Our plan is to partner with up to 10 retailers in metropolitan areas so that our customers will have the ability to buy wine with a few clicks. One of the things that customers should recognize is that we organize wines based on Country, and then either grape (US – Cabernet Sauvignon – California or France – Bordeaux – Reds) or region. For example, in the United States wines are organized by grape, and in France we organize wines by region. If you go pull up four wine store internet sites (K&L Wines, Rye Brook, JJ Buckley, The Wine House) you will see that each wine store has its own way of organizing wines. We are trying to create uniformity because that should make it easier for customers to find the wines they are looking for.
By the way, all of our retail partners have mobile optimized internet sites that allow customers to easily buy the wine, and then go pick it up at the store (Will Call San Francisco), or arrange for it to be delivered to their work or home.
Advanced Search: We believe that this function will be mainly used at retailers, because it will allow customers to narrow down search parameters, and zero in on the bottles they are interested in purchasing.
Step 1: Pick a retailer from the drop down menu > K&L Wines
Step 2: Select a retail price range from the drop down menu > $1 to $20
Step 3: Select a country from the drop down menu > Argentina
Step 4: Select a region from the drop down menu > Malbec
Step 5: Hit the Search button at the bottom and you will see all the Malbecs from Argentina in the $1 to $20 price range at K&L.