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May 26, 2012 05:55 AM

Wine "mark ups" in restaurants

Forgive me, I couldn't find a similar discussion so am starting this thread.

Yesterday I took my two daughters out to lunch at a restaurant featuring a Mediterranean menu.

DD#1 asked if she and her sister could share a bottle of wine "because we'll both probably want more than one glass each."

"Sure", I said. They settled on a Ste Chapelle Riesling priced at $24. They liked the wine. Our meals were tasty and we enjoyed a nice leisurely visit.

Later yesterday, I guess I started experiencing buyers remorse, because I googled the wine brand to see if it was worthy of the price I paid. Info back is that, at retail, this wine would be priced $9.99 to $10.99 per bottle. I was a bit taken aback that I had paid well more than 100% markup on the wine and began to wonder what is the typical restaurant mark up on a wine. Or, what is a fair mark up on a wine to assure profitability for a restaurant.

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  1. Cheaper wine is always marked 100% or more. For better deals shoot for $150 bottles as very few will pay a 100% on those so often they are marked up $50-$75.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JB BANNISTER

      Thank you for your reply, JB.

      Unfortunately, a $150 bottle would be wasted on our palates.

    2. Thats actually at the lower end of markup. 300% is not uncommon.

      3 Replies
        1. re: twyst

          That is true. That $36 of Sutter Home cost between 3-6 bucks. I do like my bar code scanner on my smart phone.

        2. This is a well sussed topic.

          But bear in mind, when you buy wine at a restaurant, you are not just paying for just that bottle of wine's price -- be it retail, wholesale, or something else.

          You have to factor in things like storage, maintenance, stemware, service, sommelier, etc.

          In fact, when you really think about, the markup on non-alcoholic beverages like sodas, iced teas, coffee, etc. are even more outrageous.

          1. If we knew the markups on everything we purchased, we'd be outraged. But it always has been and always will be whatever the market will bear with respect to price. Marea, in NYC, has a bottle of wine listed at $18,500. Someone will order it.

            1. Unless it's a BYO with no corkage, you're going to be spending something extra than the retail costs of wines. The markup you're willing to put up with depends on the wine, the locale and so forth, again with cheaper wines getting higher markup than pricier bottles.

              In Montreal many places are averaging 100% markup which to me is reasonable. The 700% markup that I saw at Nobu San Diego however, wasn't.

              If you know the wines or have access to retail pricing for national brands via your smartphone, you can quickly see what a markup is.

              Markup on wines by the glass are worse.