The Wine Shop Purchasing Guide

Make smart decisions when purchasing equipment for your Wine Shop. Learn about the equipment you will need, typical costs, and where are the best places to buy it.

Required Equipment and Materials

Most wine shop owners will need the following equipment to get started:

  • Assorted wine inventory (varies)
  • Bottle opener ($5 - $300)
  • Wine cooler ($150 - $2000)
  • Display cases ($60 - $2000)
  • Wine racks ($80 - $1,500)
  • Wine glasses ($20 - $100 per set)
  • Labels ($20 - $40 per set)
  • Gift boxes ($1 - 10 each in bulks)

The above pricing is for a small-scale wine shop. You should plan to budget anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 for initial purchasing costs. Initial wine inventory will by far be your most significant cost.


Sample List of Purchases


A typical person looking to purchase equipment for a wine shop might make the following purchases:

  • Assorted wine inventory ($70,000)

Grand Total: $75,202


Key Decisions

Picking the right wine inventory is arguably the most important buying decision you will make when starting a wine shop. We outline the key considerations you will need to keep in mind when making this purchase and provide some popular options.

Do Not Overstock: It Will Cost You

Opening liquor businesses can be costly, primarily due to the huge investment required for initial stocking. Although wine generally improves in quality over time, remember that high-end wine can cost hundreds of dollars per bottle. Keep your inventory varied so that you can serve a variety of customers, but be careful not to overstock. This will allow you to quickly break even and maintain a positive cash flow.  Build up your inventory slowly at the beginning of your business to keep cash around for unexpected costs that may come up, such as licensing.

Separate Yourself From Your Competitors 

Check out the local competition to see what wine options they are offering customers. Make sure that you can offer something unique to make your store stand out. It's possible that a certain local demographic isn't currently being served by the wine options in your area.

Use Your Expertise to Build the Inventory

Many people choose to shop at wine shops specifically to get advice on their purchases. What sort of wine makes great gifts? What kind of wine best accompanies different types of meals? You need to know your inventory, and also wine in general. This will make your store more attractive to customers. Selecting wine based on your personal preferences and knowledge-base will allow you to make honest recommendations. You can also write short and unique descriptions of each wine offering as a way to provide personalized insight to your customers.


Types of Wine

When your customers come to shop and they don’t exactly know what they want, having samples of the following options can be a great way to help any person find what they are looking for.

Table Wine

Any type of wine that has an alcohol by volume content of 14% or less is considered “table wine” in the U.S. (and “light wine” in Europe). That excludes anything that is sparkling or that has added alcohol content. Most people look for table wines to complement their meals.  

Dessert Wine

Dessert wine tends to be sweeter and comes after a meal. Other alcohol, such as brandy, is sometimes added to a dessert wine so that it can retain more of its natural sugars, which are usually used up during the fermentation process. This sweeter taste is great for customers who don’t enjoy the bitter flavor of the tannin in red wine.

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine has carbonation, either added in or naturally present due to the fermentation process.  For anyone looking for a little more kick and flavor into their wine, this is a great option.

Varietal Wine

Varietal wine is another way of categorizing wine, identifying bottles via the grape type. Merlot, for example, is a type of grape and a specific type of wine. There can be blends of different types of grapes in the winemaking process, but most need 75% of a certain grape to be called by that name.

Regional Wine

Region is another way to discern different types of wine.  Although varietal gives some information on the wine, it will not tell anything about how the wine is made, or how certain climates will affect its flavor.






Best Places to Buy

There are many choices for distributors of wine available in the United States. Buying from distributors is how most wine resellers will choose to build their inventory. There are nationwide distributors that have offices across the country, as well as local distributors.  This allows owners to visit the wineries and sample the wines to pick the best ones for their inventory. Below we list the top 5 wine distributors in United States.  

Most distributors offers a great selection in prices, types and location for wine. It is important to visit multiple locations to find distributors who fit well with what you envision for your shop.

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

With one of the largest distribution network in North America, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits reigns as the biggest name in the game with many local distributors. The company opened in 1943 as a family-owned business, and has been expanding its distribution locations throughout different regions of United States.  The large selection and network may be a great place to start for first-time store owners.

Republic National Distribution Co.

Republic National Distribution Co. is another wine and spirits company with a long history.  The company offers a variety of complementary services, along with locations in 22 states. Republic National Distribution Co. offers market insight to owners upon request, and builds their inventory accordingly. They also provide the unique opportunity to make brand-customized drinks with their in-house mixologists.

Breakthru Beverage

Breakthru Beverage is also a leading name in the wine and spirits business, specializing in high-end beverages. The company’s website conveniently lists the brands they carry by each location, giving first-time owners a great perspective and general idea of what is available.