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Everything posted by derricks

  1. derricks

    Wine in Restaurants

    A good question, and I think this underscores why people focus on wine list prices: we often know what a bottle costs in a wine store. I don't know how much dentists have to pay for the eighty quintillion things involved in a cleaning, so I assume their price takes that all into account plus some for profit. But I do often known that bottle X costs some amount and that bottle Y costs some other amount, and I can quickly calculate that the restaurant is multiplying their cost by some factor on average. Does a dentist charge me different amounts for different numbers of teeth? I'm guessing not; they have a fixed set of costs they're spreading across all their patients. Thanks for all the responses, by the way.
  2. derricks

    Wine in Restaurants

    I certainly wouldn't suggest that you turn around and sell a wine bottle for your purchase cost; there absolutely are costs that you have, both for food and wine. Since those are the things you're selling, you need to add a markup to cover all your costs, just like any other business. But I still don't understand why most wine markups are based on multiplication. Granted, cheaper bottles tend to get marked up more and more expensive bottles tend to get marked up less, so it's (usually) not an exact multiplication. Many of the items you list seem like they're only somewhat variable (the new vacuum cleaner obviously being an unforeseen expense), though I suppose one could point out that income is highly variable. It's something that's always confused me; if the costs are static within a certain range, why not just markup wine and food to handle those costs. You didn't pay more in rent with (what I see in retail as) a $50 bottle of wine then you did with a $25 bottle, but I might be paying $100 for the first bottle, and $50 for the second (not knowing your markup strategy, of course). In fact, none of the items you list seem like they'd cost you more with a more expensive wine. Just curious; I know restauranting is a tough, tough business. And I'm all for restaurants I like staying in business. But I've never heard a good reason for why wine markups are based on multiplication, other than "we use wine sales to compensate for low food profits".
  3. derricks

    Wine in Restaurants

    But markups can be striking even in places where the government isn't the retail source. Most restaurateurs I've talked to about this are blunt about the fact that food doesn't make much profit, and if you want to make money, you have to sell wine. Of course, restaurant critics I've talked to about the subject argue that the food should stand on its own. They aren't usually experienced at running restaurants. Most people don't realize how high food is marked up, because $2 * 4 isn't as noticeable as $25 * 2.75. Or maybe they do realize, but recognize the labor involved in prepping and cooking the food. The restaurant's costs for the wine are harder to see. Again, though, I'd think that the costs above the wine price would be fairly fixed. It costs the same to store a really nice bottle and a really mediocre one, and storage space is probably fixed (i.e, if you store a wine for two years, you're not adding space to do that, so the per-year cost is the same). So why can't restaurants just figure out annual wine cost, divide by n where n is bottles of wine sold per year, and add that to the bill?
  4. derricks

    Wine in Restaurants

    If the cost is fixed, why is the markup usually based on multiplication? Some industry types point out that in general markups have gone down over the years, presumably as we come closer to the European mindset about wine.
  5. Another mail-order source for fresh wasabi is Pacific Farms in Oakland. I've been buying from them for three years or so. In addition to the rhizomes, they sell wasabi paste and various other wasabi products. Doesn't help you find places in your area that use it, but I have, in obnoxious food snob fashion, been known to bring fresh wasabi with me to a restaurant.
  6. Which, incidentally, is at 67, rue de Lancry in the 10th. The closest Metro stop is Jacques Bonsergeant. Tel: 01.4803.1734 closed on Sunday evening. Sorry about not including that! Derrick
  7. My wife and I were in Paris a little more than a year ago, and we went to a place called Le Verre Volé, which we found via issue 60 of The Art of Eating. We had a lot of fun there. Some quotes: There was no music playing when we were there, very early in the evening. The selection of wines is unlike any you'll see anywhere else. We did find the owner very friendly and helpful. We were trying to choose between two bistros in the neighborhood, and he offered his opinion on each. He even offered to make reservations for us, though I wish he hadn't said "Do you have a table for two Americans?" when he made the reservation!
  8. derricks


    I've never eaten there (though I'm dying to!), but the Bern's wine list is arguably the best in the country. Todd Wernstrom wrote about it in Carafe recently. As for the wine, it is certainly said that restaurants often serve their red wines too warm. As one newspaper critic pointed out to me, "room temperature in France is not room temperature here." A number of savvy gourmets (Karen MacNeil, Ed Behr) have mentioned that they'll occasionally ask for the red wine to be chilled, which inevitably leads to them being treated like rubes by the wait staff. (As a side note, it's often said that we drink our white wines too cold). A thought about your steak's done-ness. I've noticed a number of restaurants that don't seem to take me seriously when I say "rare". I wonder if they are interpreting the American view of rare as medium-rare, and how accurate that is. I've taken to telling wait staff that I want the steak as rare as they feel comfortable making it. But you'd think one of the most famous steak houses in the country would take you at face value.
  9. My local (Oakland) wine storage facility is pretty inexpensive: $14/month for a 20-case space. We don't have a ginormous collection, but we do have a few bottles we want to enjoy a while from now and our apartment was running out of space (and the temperature is variable). Still, we have a decent amount of wine in the facility, and still have a representative sample at home. The idea is that periodically we'll move a bunch of wine back from the facility to the apartment as we drain our wine rack. For another low-cost solution, Mario Batali (I think) tells people to dig out the old dorm refrigerators they probably have in storage, crank the temperature up all the way, and voila! you've got a wine fridge. I never got one of those little dorm fridges, but they're pretty cheap at Home Depot and other places.
  10. So, I could see a case for this if a) the restaurant has a sommelier (or wine staff) and b) that person tastes the wine before serving it to you Because then you get into the universe of "the restaurant inspecting the bottle beforehand". But then you open yourself to the customer arguing with the sommelier and "always being right". How many restaurants still do this anyway? Not most restaurants that most people eat at. It's a silly idea, and I hope no one takes him up on this. I expect to pay for a bottle of wine if I order it, and if the bottle I get is different than the one they brought out first because the first one was tainted, I should still be paying for the bottle. Derrick
  11. Thanks for the warm welcome, all (and kind words about OWF, Melissa). The cranial tilt thing was totally fascinating. Who knew? Aren't straws making a comeback with splits? I seem to remember seeing something about that. The Art of the Table doesn't shed light on the subject, but it does mention seven different shapes: tulip ("preferred by wine connoisseurs"; this is what I think of as a flute with a long body and a little bit of a belly; flute and trumpet ("a form based on the rhyton, an ancient vessel attributed to the primeval custom of drinking from the horns of animals"); saucer, sherbet, and coupe (variations on a theme, "not recommended by wine connoisseurs"); and the "hollow-stem glass" with a bowl that goes all the way to the base ("not favored by wine buffs...but for sheer drama no other champagne glass can compare"). None of this answers the question, unfortunately, but I thought it was an interesting side comment. Derrick
  12. My first eGullet post: Flutes also have the advantage of smaller surface area, so a) you get the aromas in one focused place and b) your bubbles last longer. I'd believe b as a reason for the American switch rather than a. Incidentally, the recommended Riedel glass for Moscato d'Asti is still the coupe, IIRC. Derrick
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