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Tag Archives: wine prices

Restaurant wine prices: A better way

winetrends

Restaurant wine pricesWhat better way to follow up this month’s very popular post about escalating restaurant wine prices than with a story about restaurants that charge reasonable prices and sell more wine — and make more money — in the process? That was the theme of my piece in the current issue of the Beverage Media trade magazine, where one restaurateur told me: “We want our customers to be able to have dinner for two with a glass of wine each for $35 a person.”

Revolutionary thinking in a world where glass of wine costs $10 and bottles are marked up four times their wholesale price, no?

The highlights of the article, as well as a few of my thoughts:

• The debate centers around volume vs. margin; that is, does the restaurant want to sell a lot of wine, or is its business model focused on the amount it makes per bottle? This margin approach, which has been the model most restaurants use, has given us the $10 glass. Not surprisingly, those who use it still see no reason to change.

• Yet an increasing number of restaurants see a better way. “There is sort of this infrequently spoken gripe from consumers: ‘Why are we paying these kinds of markups?’… [T]hey are going to be cynical about your wine program.” says Stan Frankenthaler, chief officer of food, beverage and strategic supply for CraftWorks, which operates about 200 restaurants under 11 brands, including Old Chicago and Rock Bottom. That someone at a chain said this speaks to the failure of the margin model, since chains have some of the worst and most marked-up wine lists.

• A better approach: Pricing tiers, like 4 times wholesale, 2½ times, and 2 times, based on quality and availability. If the wine is difficult to find, for instance, or offers exceptional value, we’re more likely to pay 4 times markup — and especially if we have legitimate, less expensive choices instead of grocery store wine masquerading as something else.

• This story includes advice from my pal Diane Teitelbaum, who died shortly after I interviewed her. “You can sell a $100 bottle once a day, or you can sell $20 bottles of wine all day and all night,” she told me. No wonder everyone misses her so much.

 

 

The Wine Curmudgeon’s first wine prices survey

winetrends

wine prices One of the difficulties with writing a wine blog that focuses on price, and that most of my colleagues don’t have, is that there is no standard for wine prices in the U.S. One region’s $10 wine can be another’s $15 wine, and this doesn’t take into account states with minimum pricing laws or those with government-owned retailers.

It’s not the problem availability is, but it’s enough of a problem that I decided to do this post, which is also something many of you have asked for. The goal is to get pricing data from readers around the country, put it into a spreadsheet, and see if we can determine regional differences. That is, we’ll know that a wine in Dallas will cost 10 percent less in one place or 15 percent more in another. That way, when I list the price, you can make the appropriate adjustment.

So let’s do this:

First, e-mail me the prices for two or three wines you buy regularly, as well as where you buy them. Or, you can click the Contact link at the top of the page. Preferably, these should be wines we talk about on the blog, since doing it for wine prices higher than $15 won’t help much. I’ll take your prices for the next month or so, until Mother’s Day.

Then, I’ll flesh out your numbers with wine prices from retailers I know around the country, using your wines as the guidelines.

Finally, I’ll crunch the numbers and publish the results on the blog. We also might be able to learn a thing or two and make some news in the process: Are Big Wine prices more consistent? Do state taxes make that much of a difference? Are some retailers more or less expensive?

Winebits 380: Wine prices edition

winenews

wine pricesCheaper imported wine? That’s the question that many people were asking last month at a major European industry trade show, ProWein in Germany. The dollar has gained more than 20 percent against the euro in the past year, and the exchange rate is near 1-1, something that hasn’t happened in decades. This change was welcomed by many foreign producers, since it would make their wine easier to sell in the U.S. Said one Spanish winery official: “Obviously, the exchange rate is helping us very much and gives us a number of opportunities at the moment.” Whether consumers will see lower wine prices on store shelves, though, remains to be seen. Distributors and importers are reluctant to cut prices, not only because it means more profit for them if they don’t, but because the industry seems committed to the idea of premiumisation, trading U.S. consumers up to more expensive bottles of wine.

Less cheap wine? Maybe, maybe not. This story, from CNBC, is the sort of thing that makes me crazy — a reporter is given an assignment and isn’t quite sure how to do it. The story starts saying that California’s drought will make quality cheap wine more difficult to find, but soon detours into sake, wine writing, the difference between Old World and New World wines, and that drought isn’t necessarily a bad thing for grapes. Blame the editor, who was too busy or too lazy or too indifferent to offer the reporter any direction. How do I know this? The reporter quoted another reporter, which is not something you’re supposed to do. A better editor would have taken that out, with a stern warning not to do it again.

Lots of effort to little effect? Researchers say they have discovered how to successfully price wine futures, part of a disturbing trend in wine research that focuses on wine that almost no one buys but that gets a lot of attention. It’s one thing to research the futures market in corn, wheat, and pork bellies, because that determines the price of food. But wine futures? Would it matter to anyone but the Winestream Media, very rich people, and a handful of retailers if they went away tomorrow?

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