What makes great wine list design?

Food and Wine

Wine lists are often the first point of contact with your customers, after your friendly waiting staff of course. Therefore your wine list should entice customers and not intimidate.

Our Graphic Designer, Maria explains what good wine list design entails.

Put simply, a good wine list design is about great typography. Your wine list needs to be clear and legible, often made harder by the low lighting, which creates that warm and welcoming ambience. It also needs to inform your customers and encapsulate the identity and values of your business. 

A well-presented wine list will entice your customer who wasn’t sure they wanted a glass of wine to pick it up. At Ellis we design lists smartly, convincing your customer to buy that glass. We want to excite customers with a wine list. Encouraging them to try something new, whilst still making them feel comfortable with a list that is clear to read and simple to understand.

So take a look at your wine list. If it’s looking a little tired and could do with a bit of TLC (couldn’t we all), get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.


 "I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things." Lindon Leader – designer of one of my favourite logos – FedEx. 


Categorisation. Splitting a list into style categories can make a large list seem less overwhelming and clearer to navigate. It’s hard to make a decision when you feel as if you are drowning in a long, uninterrupted list. Categories allow the customer to identify with what they enjoy drinking or what mood they are in at the time and narrow down their choice.

Feature boxes to highlight selected wines or recommendations. This helps to draw their eye towards what you want to sell, and can be achieved with outlined or shaded boxes, illustrations, through the use of an accent colour or with bold headings. 

Create a bespoke set of symbols to feature vegan, organic and biodynamic wines or wines that are well suited to seasonal produce such as game.

Let the tasting notes do the talking. Adding short and simple tasting notes are a great way to attract interest. Using appealing words to describe the flavours in the wine will make your customers want to drink it. Think about your guests and your brands tone of voice. Can these be fun and playful or do they need to be more serious?

Tell a story. Sometimes less is more, and a short simple tasting note will suffice. However if your customers are going to pay a little more for that special bottle then it’s good to give them something to talk about. An extended tasting note or interesting story about the producer or wine is a great way to do this. 

Highlight food and wine matching. Helping customers in picking the perfect glass to go with their meal greatly enhances their dining experience. It reduces the risk factor and encourages diners to try something new. Remember, these food matches do not have to appear on every single wine. You can select your best matches and rotate these every so often or suggest wine pairings on those stellar dishes on your food menu. 

Switch it up. Listing the wines not in price order will encourage consumers to search and explore, rather than stumble on the cheapest or most familiar grape variety when under pressure. Also, removing the ‘£’ sign is proven to have a positive effect on consumer spend.

Wines by the glass. Having a wider variety of wines by the glass, allows customers to try new things without committing to an entire bottle. It also means customers who can only have the one glass can have something a little more adventurous rather than sticking to the cheapest house option.

Lastly, remember that wine should be fun for everyone!