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Restaurant Wine List Prices


Craig Camp
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I'm sick and tired and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!

Sick of wine list rip-offs? Warn your fellow eGulleteers in advance. However, don't just post a rant - give us some facts. Pick a wine on the list and compare it to the local retail price in the same town as the restaurant. It used to be considered an acceptable rule-of-thumb for wine list pricing to be double retail, but this standard seems to have been left far behind. Please remember that it is not fair to compare prices at your local wine bar where you play darts with a top restaurant that has to cover a sommelier, front and back waiters, captains and 2 dozen different types of Riedel - everything has a price and they have the right to charge more - just not 4 times more.

posts should look something like this

Fancy restaurant, Chicago IL - 2001 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio - wine list price: $45.00 - Retail price: $14.99

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Craig,

Here in London I come across so many wines that sell for £5 in the shops but are £15 in restaurants. Too many to list!!

However the argument supposedly goes that a restaurant doesn't make any money on food but it is the drinks that make the profit!! (and if you believe that....)

Wine being marked up 3 times pales into insignificance when it comes to water. How often have you seen a bottle of Hildon selling for about £3 when it costs about 50p?

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Fancy restaurant, Chicago IL - 2001 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio - wine list price: $45.00 - Retail price: $14.99

Actually, at the private members club we did stock that wine for a particular member about that price per bottle, about 4 years ago. :huh:

No sommelier or Reidels, but we have the food that these ought to have been present. (other sister clubs within the "chain" did)

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(As I mentioned in a thread on the NY board):

Corton-Charlemagne, Domaine Jean-François Coche-Dury, 2000

Fancy restaurant in Washington, DC: $400

Fancy restaurant in New York City: $1300

I assume the NYC restaurant is Alain Ducasse NY.

Nope, its Veritas. Coche CC is $1200 at ADNY.

Mark

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L'Orangerie in Los Angeles.

They have a 2000 Caymus Special Select on their wine list for $325 that retails for just over $100.

A half-bottle of 2000 Patz & Hall Hyde Valley is selling there for $78 when a full bottle is around $40.

It is just terribly inconsistent. Some of their wines are barely 10% or 20% more when others are three and four times the retail.

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Les Jardin des Sens (Michelin 3* in Montpellier, France) has horrendous mark-ups. I'm afraid it was 2-3 years ago now so I can't remember the details but some lower end bottles (by which I mean at 30-50 euros) had 600% mark-ups. And these were local wines. And they had only one wine list (or "livre des vins" as they called it). Grrr!

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Les Jardin des Sens (Michelin 3* in Montpellier, France) has horrendous mark-ups.  I'm afraid it was 2-3 years ago now so I can't remember the details but some lower end bottles (by which I mean at 30-50 euros) had 600% mark-ups.  And these were local wines.  And they had only one wine list (or "livre des vins" as they called it).  Grrr!

I feel your pain.

we were there last Summer; mark ups on local wines sky high and pretty average recommendations from the sommelier on what would be interesting to try.

not going back

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Asiate in NYC is charging, "Nicholas Feuillatte NV rose at a stunning $22 per glass -still cheaper than the bottle" - from NY forum. This sounds really high, if I am not mistaken I think I have seen it on other NYC wine lists for about $88.00 +/-. Can anyone confirm?

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Luckily, someone has already gone ahead and done this for us. Spending countless hours scouring wine lists and depositing checks, the Wine Spectator has assembled a list of the very finest. The Award of [Overpricing] Excellence is given to restaurants whose wine lists are definitively overpriced, but who have not ascended to the heights of the other awards. A [Most of our bottles are over a] Grand Award winner is given to those restaurants that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to wine list overpricing. These lists are outstanding in the obscenity of their markups.

See, it's all very easy. I hope everyone out there appreciates the thankless toil of the Wine Spectator in researching these awards.

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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On the other hand, there is a place in Pacific Grove (Monterey) California called Passionfish that has a wine list with retail prices (OK not Costco, but good wine store). Their list is also quite interesting, I think, for a fairly small & informal restaurant: Passionfish wine list

We've been three times over the last six years or so and found the restaurant very comfortable with good food -- not haute cuisine -- at reasonable prices. Best meals & wine we've had in the touristy part of Monterey by far.

Charley Martel

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I'm sick and tired and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!

Sick of wine list rip-offs? Warn your fellow eGulleteers in advance. However, don't just post a rant - give us some facts. Pick a wine on the list and compare it to the local retail price in the same town as the restaurant. It used to be considered an acceptable rule-of-thumb for wine list pricing to be double retail, but this standard seems to have been left far behind. Please remember that it is not fair to compare prices at your local wine bar where you play darts with a top restaurant that has to cover a sommelier, front and back waiters, captains and 2 dozen different types of Riedel - everything has a price and they have the right to charge more - just not 4 times more.

posts should look something like this

Fancy restaurant, Chicago IL - 2001 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio - wine list price: $45.00 - Retail price: $14.99

i could not agree with you more. interestingly, i have been discussing this very same issue for many months/years, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. why now again?? it appears odd so few are passionate about this topic, & some even debate the rights of restaurants to overcharge!

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However the argument supposedly goes that a restaurant doesn't make any money on food but it is the drinks that make the profit!! (and if you believe that....)

additionally, this is another of my oft quoted critiques, but also falls on deaf ears??? live & learn, a la , c'est la vie???

Edited by jgould (log)
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MJ Grill (part of MarkJoseph Steakhouse):

louis jadot macon blanc village '01 $30! - vs - retail:

chat de sancerre (loire) '01 $35!

michel picard chat-du-pape '01 $47!

taittinger brut la francaise $75!

tignanello (antinori) '99 $147!!

also, why are most, not all, NV champagnes marked up 3x??

although, at Houston's, veuve cliquot $55!!!!!

Edited by jgould (log)
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Those last prices aren't nearly the highway robbery of many places. No, they're not bargains, either. I would say there simply run of the mill for many restaurants. And typically, the higher the price of the bottle, the less the markup percentage (even though the dollar margin may be higher).

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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From a UK perspective...

Oloroso, Edinburgh. Tignanello 2000 -- £150. Available in Valvona and Crolla (Edinburgh's best Italian deli) for £40 a pop--and a quick scan of some other restaurant websites suggests that it sells for below £100 elsewhere. Maybe it comes to your table in a diamond and ruby-encrusted decanter strapped to the back of a unicorn.

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Most of 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower in Toronto. A couple things that stuck out off the top of my head:

2001 Hardys Bankside Shiraz - List, $48CAD - Retail - $16CAD

1998 Luigi Righetti Amarone - List, $88CAD - Retail - $29CAD

I'm not even gonna get into the high-end stuff.

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One of the most expensive wine lists near me is at Wente Vineyards Restaurant. NV Veuve Clicquot - US$90. 1999 Opus $346. However, the obscure wines tend to be pretty reasonable. Oh, they offer Inniskillin Ice Wine for US$40/glass.

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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another question: does anyone believe restaurants would sell MORE wine by the glass or more bottles, IF they lowered the prices to more reasonable levels?

They taught us that in cooking school, twenty years ago. So does anybody do it? Nooo...

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The extremely high pricing is fundamentally what bothers me about many "wine" restaurants. Presumably, a wine-oriented restaurant is one where everybody has a bottle on the table, no? I second the recco for Passionfish (although they are packed), but I just don't go to wine oriented restaurants that often because of the pricing.

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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another question: does anyone believe restaurants would sell MORE wine by the glass or more bottles, IF they lowered the prices to more reasonable levels?

What do you think a reasonable price is for Petrus? "Reasonable" has to take into account the kind of restaurant you are sitting in. Just curious.

Mark

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