Monday, July 23, 2012

Rant: Cheap Restaurant Wine?

Buying wine at most restaurants can be expensive, and you might pay as much as three or four times the retail price. As those restaurants are not even paying retail, then the actual markup is even higher. Though there are many rationales to try to explain the huge markup, it is clear not all restaurants find this to be a necessity. There are restaurants that maintain far more reasonably priced lists, and those restaurants should be commended for their efforts in this regard. It is those restaurants which wine lovers should support and patronize. Our support helps keep those restaurants in business, and allows them to continue to offer reasonable prices on their wines.

It is interesting though that many people seem to complain far more about high food prices than wine prices. They might bitch about paying $40 for a steak, yet pay $100 for a bottle of wine without a quibble, despite the fact that same wine could be bought at a wine shop for $30. For some restaurants, the higher food prices enable them to keep their wines at a more reasonable level. Other restaurants keep their food costs low by increasing the prices of their wines, yet you will probably pay more for your entire dinner if the wine prices, rather than the food, is high.

Troquet is one of those restaurants where people sometimes complain about the prices of their food. Their appetizers roughly average about $18 and entrees about $38 so it is not an inexpensive place. But their prices are also lower than a number of other high end restaurants and their wine prices are often very reasonable. So when you add in wine into your dinner cost, you will probably end up paying less at Troquet than you will at many other comparable places. Plus, you can't forget that the quality of the food is very good, which also makes such prices more palatable.

Another compelling aspect of Troquet is their annual Wine Cellar Clear Out Sale. Each night during the summer, they offer a fair-sized collection of vintage wines at killer prices. Many of these older wines would cost a small fortune at other restaurants. Many people also rarely get the opportunity to taste such older wines. It is a grand opportunity for wine lovers and it is the type of event which warrants support of the restaurant.  

Last week, I had a superb dinner at Troquet with four good friends and wine lovers, including Adam, Marco, Dale and David. We took advantage of their clear out sale, drinking some excellent older wines. For example, we purchased the 1970 Croft Port for $50. According to Wine Searcher, the retail price roughly ranges from $100-$150, so most other restaurants would probably charge at least $200, and maybe up to $300 or more. Thus Troquet offered a huge bargain on this wine. We also enjoyed a 1966 Chateau Lynch-Bages for $75, when its retail price roughly ranges from $200-$300, and restaurants would usually charge at least $400 for it. So we scored another great deal, and those are only two examples of the wines we drank. (Correction: My friends informed me the Lynch-Bages was only $50, an even greater value.)

Their Wine Cellar Clear Out will continue through August so you really should check it out. We need to support those restaurants which offer reasonable priced wines. Too many restaurants charge far too much for their wine and there seems little incentive for them to change. We need to show them that there is another way, that those huge markups are not necessary for a successful business. If other restaurants can succeed with reasonable wine prices, then they should be able to do so too. If customers keep paying outrageous prices, then the cycle will never stop.

Break the cycle, get restaurants to stop charging outrageous markups on wine.


Anatoli said...

Completely agree - I despise the restaurants which charge triple (or more) retail and I will go out of my way to avoid giving them my business.
This Troquet restaurant sounds like something unbelievable - I'm ready to drive from Stamford to Boston just to have dinner there... Thanks for sharing!

albina N muro said...

Buying wine at most restaurants can be expensive, and you might pay as much as three or four times the retail price. wycliff champagne

Unknown said...

Yep, there is a huge list of restaurants that are reasonably priced and their food quality is also very good in comparison to so called big and famous restaurants. I will definitely try it out this weekend.