Why Do Restaurant Wine Lists Still Take The Piss?


Just before I went away I met up with my brother in law for a bite to eat in Camden in London. It was his first trip out on his own since my nephew arrived into the world, so it was only fair he called the shots. What did he fancy eating? Greasy burger and chips! Fair enough. So off we popped to Haché

I’d been wanting to go for a while. London’s now full of the next best burger joint you’ve never tasted yet, but Haché’s been around for a bit and everyone who’s been there loves it. So off we went, managed to squeeze into a table for two and ordered a couple of (what turned out to be) amazing burgers. If you like your burgers and you’re in the area, you’ve got to go give it a try!

When it comes to what to drink, we should have stuck to beer. But we didn’t, we thought we’d give the wine a go, and we ended up paying £20 for a bottle of co-op Barbera D’Asti that they sell for €3 in Italy. It was drinkable, but nothing more. And we’d just paid £20 for that! Walk into a wine shop with £20 and you’re getting a serious wine! I’m fed up with restaurants not caring about the wines on their menus or the prices they charge. 


I know some guys over here, from my banking days, who (admittedly at the high end of the scale) got so fed up paying inflated prices in restaurants that they’ve set up their own bar called 67 Pall Mall. Members can store their cellars there and people can buy the wines at cellar prices, bit of corkage, but next to no mark-up. Not a bad idea for flipping your overladen wine cellar either!

But the point is that restaurants, or the majority of them anyway, just don’t put enough thought into wine lists. Us punters end up with an average choice, and pretty steep prices.

They need to start getting professional help or start down the BYO path. Now that’s a great option!



14 thoughts on “Why Do Restaurant Wine Lists Still Take The Piss?”

  1. I’m 200% with you. The restaurant wine lists are very often become the source of annoyance… I personally would rather not drink at all than to pay 4 times retail for the bottle of plonk…

  2. Some GREAT Ontario wines here in Canada but … restaurant prices piss me off. I’ll have water with my meal before I’ll pay stooooooopid $$ for a wine I can get a the LCBO for 16 dollars.

  3. In the states we pay at least 3x retail in a restaurant. Consequence: BYO or buy something modest. So jealous of Italy where the markup is modest & there are 2-3 bottles on the table!

  4. If there’s a great somm in the restaurant, I tell them what I like on the menu and ask them to offer suggestions. No somm, I’ll look for wines by the glass unless it’s a large group.
    It’s always a difficult situation with bottles costing 3x retail (and we know they are buying WHOLESALE) but alcohol is a huge part of the profit. Great rant!

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