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Restaurant wine costs: sour grapes

October 23, 2002

Kudos to David Shaw for casting light on wine price markups in restaurants ("What is this, a wine list or a stickup?" Oct. 16).

Dining at a better steakhouse, my wife and I were dismayed to find almost no reds in the $35 to $45 range, but a couple of dozen in the $85 to $125 range. It seems only a few years ago we read that restaurateurs were making concerted efforts to price wines more affordably and there seemed to be evidence of that until recently.

With a grape glut and tougher foreign and out-of-state competition, California winemakers ought to get vocal on this issue.

Jeff Gholson

Long Beach


Icouldn't agree more with you on the subject of restaurant wine gouging. We have a glass of wine at home and one by the glass at the restaurant rather than buying a bottle of overpriced wine at the restaurant.

L.R. Hertel



Ican't remember the last time I bought a bottle from California. If California wineries want to limit their customer base to people in top tax brackets, fine with me.

I buy Italian, French, Chilean, Spanish, Australian and New Zealand wines. I don't think I've spent more than $25 on a bottle in years.

Most of the time I'm drinking $10 and $15 bottles, and very happily.

Ernest Murphy


Restaurant pricing is bordering on ridiculous.

I find myself either skipping wine altogether or just ordering a couple of glasses.

I just can't pay $75 for something I can get for $25, or $150 for a $60 bottle.

I know they have to make a profit, but please.

Steve Enke



You got most of it right when you tied the ridiculously high wine prices in restaurants to the old tradition that holds that the restaurant needs to make the same percentage of profit on wine as it does on booze.

What is even more ridiculous in restaurants is paying 10 or 11 bucks for a martini, which is about an ounce and a half of vodka or gin and thus amounts to paying over the course of a few visits to that bar about $160 for a $15 bottle of gin/vodka.

And people think wine prices are ludicrous.

Ron Washam

Pacific Dining Car, L.A.

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