Most U. S. restaurants use a multiple of a wine's cost to determine price. Twice wholesale is considered a fair markup; three times wholesale--or twice retail--is considered high. Some restaurants gouge with even higher margins.
A problem occurs when the restaurant uses the same markup for the cheaper and the more expensive wines. This is the problem with the wine list at The Cafe at the new Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey.
With moderately priced wines, the dollar markup is small. For example, 1986 Clos du Val Semillon (a $10 wine at retail) at The Cafe is only $13 a bottle more--an excellent wine and fair at the price.
But with 1985 Chateau Pichon-Lalande, the current retail price of $62.50 is bumped $42.50, to $105. At the upper end of the scale, 1953 Chateau Latour, still available on retail-store shelves at about $550, rises by $148, to $698. Here the markup is lower, just twice wholesale, but the dollar increase is huge.