Mezzanine The Fine Wine Specialist
21 March 2024 | Mezzanine The Fine Wine Specialist

Sip Size Matters

A deeper dive into the 250ml phenomenon 

By Maurice Parfait, Area Manager VIC

In the highly competitive, ever-evolving world of dining, where every small detail contributes to the full symphony of experience, a subtle but significant wine trend is sweeping across the hospitality landscape and finding a home in restaurants, bars, bistros and pubs alike.

I speak, of course, of the prolific rise of the 250ml pour option (or what we in the wine world call, “Choice of Pour”).

It was toward the end of 2021, post-covid - or as I prefer to say, ‘P.C’ - when I first really noticed how common 250ml pours were becoming (I actually recall one restaurant owner jokingly refer to the 250ml pour as the “lockdown pour”, suggesting that consumers may have become used to pouring themselves larger glasses at home and are now more open than ever to ordering a larger glass out).

After indulging in my fair share of 250ml glasses, I began to question what the benefits were to venues who decided to offer it. Lo and behold, I quickly learned that Choice of Pour delivers a variety of highly tangible benefits, including enhanced profitability, reduced pressure on waitstaff and an overall elevated consumer experience – ultimately leading to more return business and a healthier business account.

But how, you ask? Let's uncork the secret juice behind this movement and examine why you as an owner, venue manager or sommelier might want to consider embracing it to unlock its spectrum of benefits.

More options, more "Bang for Buck"

At the heart of this trend lies the invitation for patrons to indulge in a longer sip of their favourite wine, while simultaneously enjoying a better value proposition compared with a smaller 150ml glass.

Picture this: you’re sat at the cosy corner table in your favourite local restaurant, just the two of you. As you peruse the wine list, you notice 3 options – 150ml, 250ml and 750ml. You agree that sharing a bottle might be overkill for a Wednesday night, despite the better value.

You think you’ll probably end up enjoying around 1-2 glasses each, depending on how the mood strikes you along the culinary journey.

Enter 250ml - the perfect compromise, presenting you the opportunity to enjoy a more generous helping of your favourite wine style, without the need to commit to (or agree on) a full bottle to share. And to top it off, the larger glass even offers you 10% better value than the 150ml. Yes, please!

As consumers, we love it when we can select an option which not only better fits our needs but also offers us the opportunity to extract more value. It simply feels good, and although it’s a very small little detail taking place within a matter of 60 seconds, all of us in hospitality know that it’s a string of one-percenters that can make (or break) an outstanding experience.

More time back in the hands of waitstaff

The benefits of the larger wine glass option aren’t limited to the patron though – they’re also felt in real time behind the bar.

Consumers electing to lavish in the larger pour will take almost twice as long to finish their glass compared to a smaller 150ml. This extended duration of consumption reduces the frequency in which waitstaff are required to take a re-order, thus alleviating pressure by slowing the pulsing tempo of service and allowing staff to provide a faster, higher quality and more personalised level of service.

Although less ‘tangible’, the increased level of service, as a direct result of the reallocated time, can easily result in an increased chance of return business and spend per head. Talk about a win-win!

More dollars in the till

Now, let's talk about the bottom line.

We know choice of pour can be a great tool to enhance customer experience and give back more time to staff. But the real question is: what about profitability? In a time where many operators are feeling the blow of a declining spend per head associated with the ever-rising cost of living, it’s become more important than ever to maximise profitability in all facets of the business - and the wine list being no exception.

I’m excited to share that every single venue I have asked, who has introduced Choice of Pour and has actively tracked their numbers, has reported an increase in total revenue generated from wine.

The reason for the increased profitability boils down to two key factors:

1. A reduction in ‘tip-out’ (minor benefit)

2. An overall increased spend per head (major benefit)

Reduced 'tip-out', Negated Loss

Ever notice how frustrating it is when you need to crack a whole new bottle of wine to serve a single 150ml glass toward the end of service. Especially when it’s a slower moving varietal, like say, Cabernet Sauvignon, that most likely won’t snag a re-order before the lights shut off (sorry Cabernet, we still love you and know you’re making a comeback). Even worse, on a Sunday night when the venue might be closed for a couple of days before re-opening on Wednesday.

Without a means of preservation, you know full well that the rest of that bottle is likely destined to either be tipped down the drain (worst case), transformed into a jus (best case) or taken home with a tired, thirsty staff member - either way eliminating any opportunity for profit, and actually resulting in a small loss if the price of a glass is set at less than the LUC of the bottle (typically the case).

If only there was a solution…?

*Choice of Pour has entered the chat*

Let’s say you purchase your ‘By the Glass’ Cabernet Sauvignon from your supplier at $16 LUC and sell it off the list for $14 per 150ml glass. If you only sell one 150ml glass out of the bottle before the wine oxidises and is no longer good to serve, then you’ve just gone backwards $2 on that bottle. However, instead if you were to sell just one 250ml glass at $21 per glass before the rest had to be poured down the drain, you’ve at least still made $5 on the bottle – and more importantly haven’t gone backwards.

Now, of course not every wine drinking patron will opt for a 250ml, but if 1/3 do then this can have a surprising impact. If you’re tipping out an average of 6 bottles per week where only a single 150ml serve was poured out, then in the same scenario above over a 5-day operating week you’ll be losing as much as -$3000 per year.

However, if instead you were to sell a 250ml glass from just 2 of those 6 bottles which are destined to be tipped out, then you’ve completely negated the loss of all 6 bottles and are now in fact up by $500 for the year.

In addition to this, it only takes 3 x 250ml glasses to completely empty a bottle and maximise its earning potential (vs 5 x 150ml glasses).

Higher Spend per Head

Far more impactful than a reduction in tip-out loss is the opportunity that a 250ml option offers to upsell every glass sold and gain an additional $5-10 (or more) per glass.

It might not seem like much, but if 25 patrons during a service upgraded one of their glasses to a 250ml glass with an average price increase of +$7, then that would equate to an additional $175 revenue boost for the day. Over the course of a year with 5 services per week, that’s a +$43,000 increase in revenue!

Now we’re talking.

A little staff training can go a long way in bumping up the conversion rate too. Simply having your staff trained to ask the question “would you prefer a regular or large glass” after every wine glass order can have a powerful impact.

Even in the rare case where a patron decides to enjoy 1 large glass instead of buying 2 regular glasses, thus seemingly lowering their total spend per head, at the very least they have still given back valuable time to waitstaff, enjoyed a more uninterrupted experience, and have potentially helped to reduce the amount of tip-out wastage.

How to implement in your venue


The first, and usually biggest, obstacle will typically be glassware. In most cases, it will be necessary to order in some new larger, etched wine glasses which are capable of comfortably hold a 250ml pour with accuracy and without looking too full to the brim. Although it’s sometimes possible to still fit a 250ml pour into a smaller wine glass, if the glass is too full it will diminish the ability to swirl the wine and unlock its aromas.

For venues offerings 150ml and 250ml pours, we typically recommend using a glass with at least a 500ml volume capacity, ideally etched with a vertical plimsoll line or a strategically position logo to easily indicate 150ml and 250ml pour lines.

(If you are looking for such a glass, then the Plumm Everyday Red Etched (560ml) is an excellent choice. Speak with your Area Manager for any glassware enquiries).

For venues who prefer a more personalised touch, another popular move is to have the larger glassware professionally etched with the venue’s logo, with clear points of the logo indicating the two pour lines for the benefit of staff (this is also something your Area Manager can assist with).

If the prospect of replacing all your glassware is too large a barrier, then fear not – it’s not necessary to replace 100% of your glassware. Somewhere around 1/3 should typically do the trick to start with, as your existing glassware can still be used for all 150ml pours.

From there, as new glassware is gradually required you may choose to continue to order in the larger etched glasses, until eventually all your glassware is now equipped to facilitate both 150ml and 250ml pours.

Wine List Printing & POS Adjustment

The next thing you’ll want to do is print yourself a new wine list to include three pricing columns instead of two - now indicating 150ml, 250ml and 750ml/bottle pricing. The same goes for the Front of House POS system.

Regarding pricing, a good rule of thumb is to price a 250ml glass at 1.5x the price of your 150ml (e.g. if you normally charge $12 for a 150ml glass of Pinot Grigio, then this would mean a 250ml glass would be priced at $18). It’s an easy calculation that typically results in a nice round number, while offering a slight value add to the consumer who is in fact receiving 1.67x more volume of wine than a 150ml glass. This difference delivers about a 10% value-add to the patron by opting for a larger glass. 

But wait… isn’t offering a saving counterintuitive to increasing total profit?

It may seem so on the surface, but this strategy is already deployed in many other areas across the on-premise sector, and for good reason. Just look at beer vessels (pots/schooners/pints), cocktail jugs, takeaway coffee cup sizes, fries, pizzas and so on. Accepting a slightly lower margin % in exchange for a higher total spend is a universally accepted and proven strategy in all realms of business to drive up the all-important spend per head, and subsequently total revenue.  

However, if you are concerned about the potential loss, I have seen several venues execute Choice of Pour without offering a saving at all – simply pricing the 250ml at 1.67x the price of a 150ml. Although reducing the value incentive for patrons to trade up to the large glass, this can still be successful and potentially worthwhile.


Lastly, if you’re all on board for the idea of implementing 250ml wine pours but are concerned about the potential RSA implications – we get it. A 250ml pour can easily equate to 2 – 2.5 standard drinks, and as an operator it’s important to know you that you’re not landing yourself in any hot water and stepping over any lines. Rest assured, 250ml wine pours are 100% legal to offer.

While it’s critical that bar and wait staff are competently applying their Responsible Service of Alcohol in all situations (particularly when it comes to higher alcohol servings), it’s worth noting that a 250ml wine pour contains a similar alcohol volume to many cocktails and pints of +5.5% craft beer.

Of course, there should always be an additional layer of care taken when offering higher alcohol volume drinks, and it’s important that staff are educated about the higher alcohol volume and trained to act accordingly by remaining vigilant to signs of intoxication and deploying informed discretion at all times.

Ultimately, it’s clear that the rising trend of a larger glass option in Australia’s on-premise scene is not going away any time soon, and alongside the traditional 150ml option can offer a multitude of benefits for both venues and their patrons. In fact, I have been told by several British friends that large glass options are less of a trend and more the norm in the UK.

Although it’s seen significant growth in recent years, still, the majority of venues have yet to adopt it. This presents forward-thinking operators with an opportunity to jump on board and get ahead of the curve (and their local competition), and in doing so cultivate a more relaxed and toast-worthy dining experience that resonates long after the last drop is savoured, while also enjoying a welcome boost to the bottom line.

Please reach out to your Area Manager if you have any questions or would like to discuss how to go about implementing Choice of Pour in your venue.


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