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Oct 28, 2001 03:19 AM

Alistair Little - SOHO - London

  • d

Always a delight to taste well chosen and prepared food .. the Rioja at GBP 55 was below expectations; down stairs dining room is not particularly pleasant;

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  1. The point is why are diners in London prepared to shell out £55 for a bottle of Rioja? Was it THAT prestigious a bottle? How much would it cost in a shop,or in a restaurant in Spain?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Tony Finch
      Robin Majumdar

      "The point is why are diners in London prepared to shell out £55 for a bottle of Rioja?"

      Because they want a wine that will complement their meal - the cost in a Spanish restaurant is irrelavant.


      1. re: Robin Majumdar

        Robin,the general question I was trying to ask was not why do people want a good bottle of wine with their meal,but why are diners in London and Britain prepared to pay wine prices that go well beyond a legitimate mark-up to make a reasonable profit and into the realm of total rip-off? A lot of wine in a lot of restaurants is marked up by 500% and more of what it costs the restaurant.I just think it is outrageous and I don't understand why so many diners just accept it and pay up

        1. re: Tony Finch
          Charlene Leonard

          I can see what you are saying but really, do we have a choice? We don't have a culture where we have lots of BYO restaurants (and they all seem to be at the lower end of the market) and apart from refusing to a) drink or b) pay for wine with your meal there doesn't seem to be much we can do. I would be interested to know what you do when eating out in UK, maybe I'm just to ready to accept the status quo??

          1. re: Charlene Leonard

            Got mixed feelings about this. If I'm talking 'high-end' dining, which for me isn't all that often, then unfortunately I must have wine with my meal, and the markup is kind of like the entry fee to get into enjoyable restaurants of this type in London, without which perhaps there would be fewer of these establishments in the first place? Maybe it is a teeny bit regrettable, for instance, that the same Crozes Hermitage that costs £28 at St. John costs £8 at my local merchant in Bristol--but when the food's that good, I don't really mind. Also keep in mind that there is to be scale of outrageousness and in my (fairly limited) experience the grabbiest joints serve the most mediocre food. I remember in one place seeing Cloudy Bay Sauvignon at £42--what a ghastly meal we had there.

            Two other completely random points: my three favourite wine lists are to be found in Markwicks in Bristol, Meltons in York and Croque en Bouche in Malvern. Not coincidentally all three of these are outside London and operate on a much less severe markup policy: for instance, at Meltons I believe there is a cap of £10.

            The all time biggest wine sting I ever saw was $$$ for corkage at the French Laundry in California. So amazed to have got into the wretched place at all that I probably would have gone for it if it hadn't been for having to drive afterwards.

            1. re: Martyn

              On the subject of corkage,I belonged to a wine club where the wine buff organizer arranged BYO dinners for groups at top restaurants.One place,Stefano Cavallini at The Halkin,charged us £20 per bottle corkage.Initially I thought this outrageous(£20 for what?)but our leader thought it was fine,seeing it as their mark up and arguing that a £40 bottle could therefore be drunk there for £60,probably less than half what a similar bottle from their list would cost.Obviously the more expensive the wine the better the 'value' as corkage is always a flat rate.

              I've never had the chutzpah to ask if this is OK at a dinner for two.Has anyone else?

          2. re: Tony Finch
            Robin Majumdar

            What would you consider a legitimate mark-up ? 100% ? 200% ? 10% ?

            My point would be that you have to consider each case individually as there are surely some restaurants whose markups are not so greedy. If there are restaurants that markup their wine at 500% (and I would like to know the size of your sample) then we should name and shame.


        2. re: Tony Finch

          Whether its a restaurant in Spain, a supermarket or a wine wholesaler, the price is irrelevant. Whilst enjoying the capability of a 'chef', even though I know a little about wine, I would like to think that the wines on offer match the 'experience'.