Restaurant Wine Prices Are Outrageous!

“Get ready for higher restaurant prices!” blazes the headline of a recent Bloomberg report. Now, that’s a scary thought. A nation, shell-shocked by the continuing recession, is already reeling from the high cost of dining out. Many have reacted by doing more entertaining and dining at home and less in restaurants.

A National Restaurant Association survey of its members reveals that fewer operators expect business to be better in 2012 (64%) than in 2011 (70%).  A large 67% of them anticipate raising their menu prices in 2012 to reflect rapidly increasing food costs. And, 88% of them feel their profits will stay the same or increase over 2011.

All of that adds up to very bad news for wine lovers!

The price and cost indices shown in the graph offer a telling portrayal of price inflation since 1999 of food and wine prices. To assist in this analysis, each of the indices has been recalculated to a base value of 100.0 in 1999. Values were for non-seasonally-adjusted averages at mid-year (July). These are the price sectors and their related indices:

Wine Cost and Price TrendsWinery prices:  The Producer Price Index – Wineries (PPI – W), red line.  The inflation trend of wines sold by wineries. PPI-W reflects direct sales through the tasting room and wine clubs, winery sales direct to retail outlets where such sales do not go through a distributor, and “Winery FOB” sales to wine distributors.

All prices: Represented by the Consumer Price Index, All Items, All Urban Consumers, All-City Average (CPI), black line.  The trend for all goods and services purchased by consumers, at mid-year intervals.

Wine consumed at home: The Consumer Price Index, Wine Consumed at Home (CPI-WCH), purple line  is self-explanatory. Since most wine consumed at home is purchased at supermarkets and wine shops, this is a good indicator for the retail shelf price also.

Wine in restaurants: The Consumer Price Index, Wine Consumed Away from Home (CPI-WCAH), blue line, shows the inflationary trend for wine served in restaurants, hotels and resorts.

Food in restaurants: is represented by the Consumer Price Index, Food Consumed Away from Home (CPI-FCAH) green line.  This indicator also includes fast food outlets, like pizza and hamburgers but, they reflect trends in food costs, too, just like the sit-down full-service establishments.

General inflation:  For another comparison, the Inverse Purchasing Power of the dollar, thin gray line, is shown to represent general inflation of all things, or its reciprocal, the deflation of the dollar’s purchasing power. It is a more accurate reflection of general inflation than the CPI.


  • Prices for Food items at restaurants behaved similarly to Food at home and CPI-All Items in 1999-2008. In fact, the relationship was so tight that we have not tried to show the trend for CPI-Food at Home. Thereafter, starting in 2009, restaurant food continued at roughly its historical rate, while CPI-All Items dropped significantly.
  • When CPI-All Items is plotted alongside the Inverse of Purchasing Power of the Dollar, the two trends proceed in virtual lockstep except in one year, 2008.
  • Price escalation of Wine served in restaurants was in a class by itself. Approximately, restaurant wine prices inflated at twice the rates of CPI-Wine at Home and winery FOB prices.
  • Restaurant food prices inflated 27 percent faster than winery prices.
  • Restaurant wine prices grew at 43 percent more than winery FOB prices.

I’m going to side with the wineries on this one.

The 1999-2012 trends are summarized thus:

Price Trend

Has the restaurant trade been contributing to its own sales problems?

All of the restaurateurs’ protestations notwithstanding, it is apparent to this analyst that most restaurants are pursuing a very devious pricing strategy. On one hand, they are holding food item pricing down so as not to discourage patrons from returning to their establishments. On the other hand, they are relying on exorbitant wine pricing to make up the difference in order to produce an acceptable overall profit.

The practice stinks! It leaves wineries with a black eye. And, it detracts from wine consumer adventurism in trying new wines.

The wine print media and internet websites are loaded with articles lately, excusing restaurants for their need to charge high wine prices. The explanations range from the high cost of glassware and cellar storage to sommelier service. We read prognostications that restaurant prices will have to increase in 2012 because of high inflation in food costs exceeding six percent per year.

What? Where have they been? Food costs have already increased dramatically. Farmers have seen fertilizer and chemical costs jump along with the cost of petroleum. Everyone in the food chain has been impacted by the high cost of gasoline and diesel. What doesn’t have to be transported these days?

The costs of glassware apply to foods as well as to wines, although the former may be less than the latter in the finest restaurants. Cellaring costs really apply only to the best upscale establishments, too. Come on now, do restaurants in the quality range of Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s and McCormick & Schmick’s really need to carry red wines older than four years and whites older than 2-3 years. That’s where the largest part of the wine-consuming diners play in most of the country.

As to the high cost of sommelier service, it is my opinion that a lot of it can be deleted without harming the dining experience. Some of it is so haughty as to be offensive. I tried to sit quietly through a decanting where an officious sommelier held the neck of the bottle directly in the candle flame. As a professional winemaker, I know that is not good for the wine’s quality. Even though I am usually a mellow guy in the presence of such wine fol-du-rol, I did not sit silent, but demanded that the sommelier stop immediately.  He didn’t take it well.

Getting back to the wine pricing issue, perhaps an example will facilitate understanding. Let’s analyze how wine gets priced through the distribution channels. Start with a $15.00/bottle wine 1999:

Wine Markups

The supermarket price is taken as the normal list price, the one that is charged in winery tasting rooms and shown in the wine press. The markups shown are “typical.” The rates vary from state-to-state because of state laws and state excise tax rates. Some states allow distributors to offer volume discounts to retailers, which changes the effective markup on selling price.

Many retailers deal in “post-off” pricing. Under the system, intended to boost sales of a specific wine, The winery offers a “posted-off” price to distributors for a specific period, usually a month. In turn, the distributor may help by, say, dropping its markup to retailers to 20 percent instead of 25 percent. The name “post off” is derived from the fact that, in most states, wineries have to “post” their prices with the state liquor authority, usually in effect for 30 days. The practice has been distorted in recent years, so the winery can claim a higher normal price for the wine than the one offered by the supermarket. It may be done in some markets where wine prices are depressed, but more often, it is done to save the winery from having to drop their “front line” price, which might be detrimental to the winery’s reputation.

There have been some examples of up-pricing by a supermarket chain so as to offer a discounted price that is the same as the previous month’s normal price. This practice is really tacky when the stores just put the new price sticker over the old sticker, and the new sticker can be peeled off. For example, say last month’s price was $15.00. The retailer wants to claim a new, 20% discount. The new sticker price is $18.75. Subtract 20% and what do you have? $15.00! “Why, those customers are too dumb to wise up,” right?

Now, let’s structure a typical 1999 restaurant bill. 

Hypothetical Markup Practices

The 2012 Sector CPI value is the 1999 values inflated by the separate sector CPIs in order to show what they would be this year if they increased by the national average rate for each sector. The results look “typical” for 2012.

In the Trade Markups column, food items are the same as in the previous column, but the wine is priced according to markup practices that are typical in the business. It starts with the winery FOB, same as the preceding column, and a 28% markup by the distributor. Somewhere since 1999, restaurants seem to have gone from 2.5 times laid-in cost to 2.8-3.5 times retail shelf price, the amount depending upon the price of the wine. That makes a huge difference. Higher priced wines may be marked up at only 2.8 times retail, for example, while the lowest-priced wines are marked up at 3.5-4 times retail price.

The result of those markups yields a whopping price of $62.00 for the wine! Ouch!! There really is no excuse for such pricing. I dined recently at a couple of upscale restaurant. Those prices seem fairly representative.

The Legal Sea Foods Restaurant chain on the East Coast has a more enlightened pricing policy. According to Sandy Block, MW, who directs their wine program:

[quote]In my opinion restaurants have gotten wine pricing all wrong. There is no reason diners should pay through the nose to enjoy something delicious. This is one of the reasons I came to work at Legal Sea Foods five years ago and it remains a pillar of our philosophy: we want wine to add, not detract, from the overall experience. There’s less chance this will happen if you feel you’re being overcharged. It may require a bit of effort to source and find value but it’s something we’re committed to. No “re-strategizing” here. If wine enhances a meal and great pricing makes people happier so that they’ll return more often, we stand behind what we’ve always done: trying really hard to give you the best prices you’ll find anywhere.[/quote]

-Legal Sea Foods website

So, the policy at Legal Sea Foods is to seek out wines that are great values. Mr. Block doesn’t address the subject of markup.

Other writers are more adamant about reforming restaurant pricing policies. Some even call for outright boycott. Something I do not want to do is hurt the wineries. They are not the villains in this issue. Bringing in your own bottle doesn’t work, either. The restaurant will just charge you a “corkage fee” that allows the restaurant to make the same profit they would make if the bottle came from their own holdings. Perhaps selective boycott would be better. Reward the establishments that are not abusive and avoid those who price too high.

Above all, it is smart to avoid buying wines by the glass. Those prices are also excessive. Restaurants offer the excuse that, once opened, the wine may decline before the whole bottle is emptied, forcing them to dump the remnants. Come on now! In this day of technological advance, devices to blanket the wine, in bottle, with nitrogen are readily available. Get smart, people!

Sources consulted

  • “America’s Biggest Rip-offs, Wine at restaurants – 500% markup;” CNN Money website
  • Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.  and
  • “Cracking the Code of Restaurant Pricing;: Juliet Chung; Wall Street Journal website.
  • “Get Ready for Higher Restaurant Prices;” Anna-Louise Jackson and Anthony Feld; Bloomberg website; October 8, 2011;…
  • “High-End Wines Had Great First Quarter;” Jim Gordon; Wines & Vines magazine, San Rafael, CA;
  • “How Much Is That Wine In The Restaurant?” WellHeeled website; January 11, 2010;
  • “Is eating out cheaper than cooking?:” MSN Money website; January 19, 2012; As grocery prices go up and restaurants struggle to hold the line on menu price
  • “Outlook 2012: Operators expect better sales, profit;” NRN Restaurant Operator Survey; Sarah E. Lockyer; Nation’s Restaurant News; January 6, 2012
  •“Restaurant Pricing;” The Internet Guide to Wine; Brad & Dri Brown
  •  “The Lowdown on Restaurant Markups, The inside story on why and how restaurants price their wines;” Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Gretchen Roberts; May 7, 2010.
  • “Wine Pricing;” Legal Sea Foods (restaurants) website


About the Author:

Jeffrey L. Lamy - Master of Science, Winery Consultant, Economist and Author. Jeffrey is a 1960 Yale graduate in Industrial Administration and Mechanical Engineering. Later he added an MS in Business. As it is with many second-career winemakers these days, his wine education was gained from short courses and technical visits to U.S. and European wineries. From 1982 to 1992, he planned, built and ran a 400+ acre operation for a wealthy lumber family, serving as its general manager and chief winemaker. His wines won more awards than any other Oregon winery. After returning to full-time consulting, he designed more than 400 vineyards, designed a dozen wineries and directed the winemaking for six. To, Jeff brings extensive knowledge in the technologies of grape growing and winemaking, experience in many regions, and keen insights of the entire business enterprise. He has written a book [on management of the winemaking business, which is expected to be in print soon.


  1. Jo Diaz May 24, 2012 at 8:24 AM - Reply

    Very impressive story, Jeffrey.

    Wine seems to be the single item that’s used to keep many of these establishments in business. By boycotting them, I wonder how many great restaurants we’ll be putting out of business, though. Having been a wine sales rep for years, I got a behind the scenes look at the hows and whys. Some item has to help pay the bills, and wine’s an obvious target.

    I suppose that the restaurants could just increase everything evenhandedly across the board, but then the food prices would also continue to soar, and people would head for the door. Wine is an item that people can elect to have or not. That’s the primary reason for the target.

    A great study would be to evaluate all the costs involved in operating a restaurant: rent/mortgage, equipment, payroll, taxes, food, all beverages, etc., and then determine their profit. (Ah, capitalism…) I’d love to see something like that to support that their overall profit margins are huge; and then it’s all because of the wine. With that knowledge, I might elect to pay a corkage fee.

    Good help is hard to find, and with restaurants, in order to keep someone good, benefits (like now having to offer health insurance) are a necessity. Gone are the days of minimum age for wait servers, if you have a fine dining establishment. Minimum wage does NOT foster wait serving professionalism… With their increase in wine costs, perhaps “health insurance for all” has driven this new increase?

    Just thoughts to ponder,having been behind the scenes as a wine rep.

    • Pamela Heiligenthal May 24, 2012 at 8:44 PM - Reply

      Excellent points Jo! On the flip side, I would say that it is not fair to gouge the wine consumer to keep the restaurant in business. If it is truly the wine sales that keeps the business afloat (I’m making the assumption that is not always the case with the volume of folks that BYOB or simply decide not to buy wine while dinning), then where does this leave the consumer who enjoys a bottle of wine with dinner? Why do they have to pay for the cost of dinning out?

      As far as total P&L, the restaurant costs have been in place for a while as vinifra points out. The rule of thumb is 25% food cost, 25% liquor (which includes wine). I never thought this was fair, considering the back of the house has to produce a product from raw materials (e.g. take a raw product from concept to a final dish) compared to selling a product in the front of the house (which is a final product, e.g. a bottle of wine). Conceptually, this makes no sense but it is a model that most restaurants have embraced for years.

      There is an argument that wine has an associated cost when it comes to training and glassware, but I don’t buy into it, because the back of the house has equal responsibility and associated costs to train staff on dishes served. A good restaurant will taste each dish with the staff during daily lineups. The back of the house also incurs china and glass costs but this is a cost applied to a separate line item in the P&L, which also includes wine glass costs. Good beverage managers will taste the servers on new wine items—but this isn’t always the case. Imagine a new server with 200+ wine selections! This is why I advocate leaving a small sample for the server to taste when a consumer purchases a bottle of wine.

  2. vinifra May 24, 2012 at 1:37 PM - Reply

    While Mr. Lamy’s education seems impressive on the surface (Jeffrey is a 1960 Yale graduate in Industrial Administration and Mechanical Engineering. Later he added an MS in Business.)
    As a longtime resident of Washington D.C. with 2 guided visits to the White House under my belt, does not make me an expert on international politics! Mr. Lamy would have us believe that his wine education gained from short courses and technical visits to U.S. and European wineries makes him an expert on the subject of “On Premise” wine service…
    Mr. Lamy’s lack of in depth knowledge of the food & beverage / hospitality industries, in my opinion does not qualify him as an expert on the subject of wine service and / or whether or not a Sommelier / Wine Steward is really necessary in these days and age.
    Who needs winemakers / superstars flying around the world consulting for a plethora of clients peddling the magic recipe that will ensure a high score so the client can charge more to the consumer?
    I am a Sommelier by profession and I take umbrage when I read that my profession is superfluous and offers little if any value added to the overall dining experience. On the subject of poor decanting technique however I do agree with Mr. Lamy and I wish that the title of Sommelier was not so loosely misused…
    On the subject of saving $$: I earn an average hourly rate but most of my income is in the way of gratuities from the wait staff. I have NO benefits outside of Obamacare of which I pay 50% of the premiums, my employers receives a tax credit for the other half. No paid vacation / time off, no dental / vision insurance, no 401K, no education credits… The national recession has made it easy for employers to get away with not offering any benefits whatsoever. So as you can see by eliminating my position my employer would not save very much at all.
    Mr. Lamy balks at paying $62.00 for a bottle of wine in a couple of “upscale” restaurants… It is now very clear that Mr. Lamy & I have very different definitions of an “Upscale” restaurant.
    To put things in perspective I would like to offer the following pricing info (so the readers can decide if wine markup is the problem or the fact that wine prices are an “easy target”)

    STANDARD PRICING STRATEGIES (as I have known them to be in the restaurant industry for the past 20 years)

    (750ml bottle)
    Cost of acquisition $10.00
    Restaurant pricing $20.00 to $40.00
    Markup 200% to 400%

    (cocktail 2 Oz Grey Goose & Tonic)
    Cost of acquisition (2 Oz) $1.00
    Restaurant pricing $5.00 to $15.00
    Markup 500% to 1500%

    (12 Oz draft Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)
    Cost of acquisition (12 Oz) $0.72
    Restaurant pricing $5.00 to $10.00
    Markup 694% to 1388%

    Anyone who has dined out lately must have noticed the emphasis on Cocktails with meals and how Bartenders are now “Mixologists” who concoct artisanal creations based on pre-prohibition recipes that resonate within the American soul and blablabla… When the average markup on liquor is far greater than that of wine it makes all the sense in the world to avoid wine with dinner and instead order a cocktail or two.
    The problem with wine prices is:
    1) The 3 tier system
    2) Restaurant operators budgeting an overall 20% beverage cost(beer+wine+liquor)
    If Mr. Lamy is so appalled by wine prices in restaurants and is looking for a way to save a buck… here is my advice: next time you go to the movies bring your own popcorn with you and tell me how that was received by the movie theater operator.

    • Pamela Heiligenthal May 24, 2012 at 9:02 PM - Reply

      I don’t really see Lamy bashing the Sommelier community at all, rather, challenging the restaurant pricing policy model. I challenged these same concerns as a working sommelier. Does this make them villains? Certainly not, as Sommeliers are there to educate and serve. Personally, I blame those who profit from monetary gain.

  3. Jeff Lamy May 24, 2012 at 5:19 PM - Reply

    Nice counterattack, Vinitra!

    In addition to my educational credentials, I am a veteran of 38 years of involvcement in the wine business, as winemaker, general manager, corporate executive and consultant. Over an eleven-year period, I planned, built and ran a 100,000-gallon winery growing up to a 430-acre vineyard for a wealthy lumber industry family at Forest Grove, Oregon. I have slugged it out in the trenches nationally.

    Perhaps you have not been on the receiving end of a multitude of complaints over the high prices of wine in restaurants.

    Conversely, I have been honored by the thoroughly knowledgeable and entertaining services of good sommeliers. They are not the villains here, either.

    I repeat: “The markup practices of many restaurants stink.”

    . . . Jeff

  4. Donn Rutkoff May 25, 2012 at 9:05 AM - Reply

    One reason wine prices are an easy target to attack, is that the unit size sold retail is the same unit size offered at restaurant, a bottle. Makes it so easy to compare. And there is not as much visible cost to offer wine, costs that are visible to the customer. Hard liquor, not same unit size, much harder to compare, and beer, yes same unit size, but somehow few complain since it is the same price as a beer in a bar (and less than in a baseball or football stadium. Now, there is a markup to study!!!) Liquor price at restaurant is also same as at a bar. So the markup and pricing method does not attract attention.

  5. Antonio Bellini May 25, 2012 at 3:37 PM - Reply

    Mark-up is mark-up! What difference does it make if the unit of measure is 1 oz or 6 oz or 26oz for that matter? Patrons do not drink a bottle of whiskey (that is Irish or North American spelling) during a meal. However; they do consume a bottle of wine. This comparison is a study in itself and has no correlation with Jeff’s study. You are missing the point. Having worked for over 40 years of food and beverage service business in more than 10 countries I feel qualified enough to say that Jeff is right and you are wrong. As a wine butler for Safeway you have no idea about CPI and the myriad of pricing models that are out there. As a researcher and author of wine business related studies I understand how Jeff may feel after reading your less than appreciated remarks you posted. Why are you so defensive about unfair pricing practices by restaurateurs? Jeff shows a significant asymmetry in restaurant pricing compared to home consumption pricing. Restaurants’ pricing upward trend increases proportionally. In sum I no longer order wine in restaurants, and if I do because I have to entertain, I will only give tips on food. I guess explaining the latter may not make sense to you either. FYI I also ferment my own grapes.

  6. MacDaddy Marc Hinton May 25, 2012 at 10:25 PM - Reply

    As the co-founder and editor of this site and a forty year veteran of the restaurant industry who has opened over twenty new restaurants, most as either GM or Exec Chef, worked as management for a couple of wineries and sales at a wine distributors I thought I might add my two cents to this interesting conversation. Mr. Lamy has brought to the reader’s attention an accurate account of this subject. Regionally, prices differ but the formula has not changed. To infer that someone who was irked to spend $62 for a $20 bottle of wine does not know what an upscale restaurant is was ludicrous. It also alludes to the snobbish elitism among wine professionals that is unquestionably the norm at a lot of restaurants. I am usually flabbergasted by the difference in service Pam and I receive depending upon whether or not we announce what we do before ordering wine. If you sell wine at any level and you know what you are doing, you know there are a lot of contributing factors to this dilemma. You also know that continuing education for yourself and the customer is the solution.

  7. Jim Rollston May 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM - Reply

    As Vinifra points out above, on an item cost basis, wine is the least “marked-up” item that a restaurant offers for sale. Beverage, beer, liquor and food all have a much lower cost of goods than wine. “But there is no preparation, someone is only pulling a cork, why should they make all that money??!!” is always the angry refrain – all true but beside the point. To be one of the less than 50 percent of restaurants that makes it out of your first year, you have to be able at the end of the month (fiscal year) to take all of your costs from your revenues and see if you are in the red or black, and the markups on each item that you offer for sale hopefully put you in the right place. If these “outrageous” wine markups (which are fairly industry standard) were making restauranteurs rich, they would all be driving Ferraris laughing at all of the saps in other businesses, not watching over half of the new hopefuls in the biz watch their dreams and investments wither up and die.

    A more interesting question to me than the basically weekly rant against restaurant wine markups that I see in my news feed (though this one is particularly well written and researched!) is why do we have this system of markups in our restaurants? In wine drinking countries in Europe the restaurants have very high food prices with much lower wine markups. I don’t know the numbers for a restaurant in France and Italy, but I would suspect that their profit margins are close to the 3-12 percent that you see in the US. Why have we evolved a business model so different, where wine is marked up more that in Europe? Is it a relic of Prohibition? A reflection of a Puritanical cultural instinct in Americans with respect to alcohol? We pay much more for wine than in Europe, whether it is in markets, specialty retailers, or restaurants, likely because wine has always been viewed and marketed as a luxury, not a required comestible, but why is the current system for allocation of costs in restaurants so consistent in our country? We all know a few exceptions in our areas, but they are always few in number… To me, all more interesting than the usual venting of anger that the intrawebs are so popular for.

  8. Chicago Pinot May 27, 2012 at 8:19 PM - Reply

    Hello Jeffrey! I am definitely in sync with your argument, although admittedly, I have just skimmed this piece for the first time and have yet to wade through all your graphs and statistics (ahh, math: Can never get away from it).

    I am more intrigued by your take on sommeliers in this paragraph:

    “As to the high cost of sommelier service, it is my opinion that a lot of it can be deleted without harming the dining experience. Some of it is so haughty as to be offensive. I tried to sit quietly through a decanting where an officious sommelier held the neck of the bottle directly in the candle flame. As a professional winemaker, I know that is not good for the wine’s quality. Even though I am usually a mellow guy in the presence of such wine fol-du-rol, I did not sit silent, but demanded that the sommelier stop immediately. He didn’t take it well.”

    Me thinks this could be the makings of another column. The Cult, I mean, Court of Master Sommeliers, places their service standards directly on their website, downloadable via PDF. It’s not password protected! You would think any restaurant that aspires to that top-tier clientele, would familiarize its staff with these standards. Regardless of your opinion on the Court (I maintain a healthy curiosity about them, the same as the populations of The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies), it has an internationally recognized “gold standard” of service that I am surprised any restaurant would dismiss.

    • Alfred June 7, 2012 at 10:05 AM - Reply

      Master Mule Skinners have as their holy trinity, knowledge, service, and sales. The sales part is often overlooked by outsiders or downplayed as crass, but is always there.

      “is a salesman, a wine expert, and a qualified taster who can pass on his or her knowledge to colleagues.
      has the ability to improve wine service and help to raise standards of food service in restaurants and hotels.
      can enhance an establishment’s wine sales and, therefore, profitability.
      brings increased professionalism to any establishment, encouraging repeat business and customer loyalty”.

  9. Don Rickel May 28, 2012 at 6:49 PM - Reply

    Right on Jeff. The fellow in D.C. only shows the mentality of the Capital City with arrogance. Poor him and his “tips”…..get a real job is he isn’t happy. You are dead on with the restaurants ripping off their customers with the out of sight wine prices. Thank you for speaking up and letting everyone know the “real truth”. As the great expert in Washington D.C. why Costco the number one seller of wine in the USA, and marks up only 15% and makes a healthy profit can sell a bottle of 14 Hands Red Blend for $7.99 and you pay over $25.00 in the local restaurants??? Rip off, absolutely!!

  10. JackYouLater June 3, 2012 at 4:04 PM - Reply

    If Mr. Lamy did not lambaste sommeliers directly, then he should have. Even assuming that a well-educated sommelier can distinguish between a $10 bottle and $50 bottle, it has been established time and again that all but a sliver of the population who drink wine have almost no accuracy when tasting disparately priced wines and often express a preference for basic table wines over supposedly superior varietels. The combination of suggestion, insecurity, ignorance, packaging and image results in most people having no clue about pricing and just surrendering to what they can afford. Shame on restaurants who gouge customers and try to make up for in overpriced wine what they cannot earn through great food and impeccable service.

  11. Jordan June 7, 2012 at 5:54 PM - Reply

    Nice post, just found your blog on my travels around the Internet. Definitely will come back.

  12. […] I just read a very well thought out and researched story about restaurant prices being outlandish on […]

  13. Amuse Bouche « Edible Arts June 8, 2012 at 12:12 PM - Reply

    […] Here is an analysis of why wine prices at restaurants are escalating. […]

  14. Mark Goldberg June 14, 2012 at 10:19 AM - Reply

    Great post. I agree. The wine costs at some restuarants are absurd! To mark up a wine 2 or 2.5x is expected. 4 to 6x is to much. What I have found is that the wines that are “in vogue” are often marked up more than the wines that are obscure. For example, I was at an expensive restuarant in Miami Beach who was charging $80.00 for a bottle of Prosecco. They should be “shot”. If the restuarant is escalating prices I will order wine by the glass . If a resturant has more reasonable prices I will be more apt to order more than one bottle. I would like to see more restuarants especially in the South Florida area be more friendly to patrons who would like to bring in their own wine and have the restuarant charge a reasonable corkage.
    Jeff,great article. It’s great to see this “heated” discussion.

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