Every good server knows that the way to bringing home the bacon in the restaurant industry is upselling. Every time a guest opts for an appetizer, stays for dessert, or chooses an alcoholic beverage over water, your tip increases. The key to upselling, it turns out, is wine.

According to Consolidated Food Service, “for alcoholic beverages, specifically wine, the markup is often 500 to 600 percent. In addition, tables which have wine often have larger dining tabs and are more likely to order dessert and appetizers as well, adding up to more profits with each bite”—for both you and your restaurant.

If you’re wondering how to sell wine without being pushy or shepherding your guests into something they won’t like, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you get there.

First, Up Your Knowledge

If you want to sell more wine, it’ll be easier to do if you know about wine. Even if your restaurant doesn’t offer wine training, you can still learn on your own and become the go-to server for wine drinkers in your establishment.


If you want to sell more wine, it’ll be easier to do if you know about wine.


You can control the conversation and change the way guest communication is handled with proper staff training.

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As explains in an article includes a great list of DIY wine education resources, start with focusing on the basics like the different wine types and how to pronounce them correctly. Next, move on to learning about simple pairings and handling practices like presenting bottles and opening them, too. You’ll feel a lot more confident selling wine if you aren’t dreading having to cork it at the table afterwards.

Explain the Merits of a Bottle Over a Glass

If your guests are looking to have more than one glass of wine throughout the night, a bottle is the more cost effective way to go, so explain it to them. It might seem like common sense to you, but you’re in the industry and those less in the know might have no idea.

Not only will getting them to order a bottle cost your guests less, it’ll save you the time and energy of getting them new drinks each time they finish a glass. Instead all you have to do is swing by and top them off without even having to interrupt their conversation. Your customers will feel like you’re looking out for them (which you are!) and you’ll have essentially sold four drinks in one shot.

Assume Your Guests Already Want Wine

It’s subtle, but the way you frame your questions to guests matters. The same Consolidated Food Service article goes on to explain that one wine selling trick is to ask your guests whether or not they’d like red or white wine instead of simply asking them if they would like wine or not. Another is to ask your guests whether they want the same wine or would like to try a different one when their glass is empty.

It’s also important to know if any wines aren’t available (and to have back up suggestions for any guests who order them) and to prioritize wine when guests order it. Get it out to the table quickly so they can start enjoying it as soon as possible rather than change their minds because it’s taking too long and they’ve filled up on water.

Check out Upserve’s Restaurant Owner’s Guide!

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Cinnamon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and journalist who paid a large part of her way through college and graduate school by serving. Her work has been published with outlets like National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. You can read more about her at