Remediating Wine Lists

A photo of a man in a wine cellar, holding a menu that says "WINE" on the front.
image from vinography.com

This week, our class is focusing on the concept of remediation, which is a means of adapting elements from older media and synthesizing them into newer forms. I chose to remediate the wine list from a local restaurant.

The Problem

In my role as a sales consultant for wine and spirits, getting on a bar or restaurant's official wine list is extremely important. The customer can't order something if they don't know it's available. However, with razor thin margins and high costs on paper and ink, many establishments are reluctant to make changes to their list more than once or twice a year. It's difficult to bring a new product to the market if your customers aren't planning to reprint the menus for another six months. This also leads to inaccuracies, as inventory comes and goes without the list reflecting changes, which is frustrating for both patrons and staff alike. And with infrequent menu updates, it can be difficult to keep up with trends in the industry, such as the burgeoning interest in non-alcoholic wines and mocktails.

The Solution

To combat the limitations of a printed wine list, I've created a digital alternative that improves the selection process. Multimodality was an important consideration for me when determining how to approach this remediation. Although online wine menus exist for many establishments, they're usually just a PDF file that reproduces the printed version. These can be overwhelming for patrons, especially if the list is extensive. To introduce an interactive element, I created a table that can be filtered and sorted by users who wish to narrow their search. This improves engagement by calling for an action from the user, such as filtering for white wines only, which is more likely to sustain their attention than passively skimming over a massive list. It also improves the list's clarity and comprehension, as it allows the user to zero in on exactly what type of wine they want, while ignoring the outliers. This streamlines the customer experience, and also makes them more confident that they're selecting a wine they'll like.

I also incorporated elements of visual design to increase interest and ensure the digital format was intuitive for users. In his book Digital Writing, Dan Lawrence writes,

Professional web designers understand that they arc able to influence how users interact with their websites by employing specific design choices.

Although my digital menu is on the simpler side, there were still opportunities to be strategic with the design. For example, the drop-down filters for the menu were originally across the top of the table, but when reviewing the page my eyes skipped over them and went straight to the info in the table. Placing them on the left side of the table makes them stand out a bit more, since they're not in the same vertical scrolling space as the table itself. I hope this influences and encourages users to take advantage of the filtering options. I also used a moody color palette of deep red and dark neutrals to complement the ambiance of a small, intimate restaurant.

The Verdict

I have many more ideas on how to improve the interactive digital menu, such as tasting notes and pairing suggestions, but many of them are outside the scope of my coding ability for now. Until then, I hope this remediation style is helpful for patrons, and I hope to see it adopted more frequently in the future.

Emma Darnell

Emma Darnell

I work in wine and spirits sales while pursuing a Master of Arts in technical and professional writing.
Macon, GA