Later today I am off to the Fat Duck for a meal to celebrate the partner’s birthday. “Hooray!”, you might be thinking. I was thinking it too until I had a look at their wine list on their website. Their wine pricing policy is totally scandalous.
It seems they just multiply the retail cost of a wine by three and a half to come up with a frighteningly inflated price for every wine. Why do restaurants do this? It doesn’t cost them proportionately more to serve you a more expensive bottle, so why should they be proportionately more expensive?
I hate sommeliers who do this. It is totally un-necessary and puts people off drinking the things they would like to drink. Sure, a three-star may not be trying to attract nut-case wine-writers with no cash, but that doesn’t automatically mean good wine should be priced so only the obscenely rich can afford it.
This pisses me off so much I am tempted to take the sommelier to task. I can be highly articulate when I am angry.
Before you unleash your righteous wrath on some unsuspecting soul, the policy is usually not the sommelier’s decision, but rather the management or accounting department’s, only implemented by the sommelier as instructed. All these places, like most businesses, are looking at percentage margin rather than net profits. Some of this does have some basis: it costs more to sit on expensive wine than to sit on inexpensive wine.
Nonetheless, I can only defend the undefendable so much: the margins do tend to be extortionate and only encourage one to order cheap. Restaurants should be concerned with providing their customers with maximum pleasure. Ridiculous prices for wine do nothing for this;
Another often used argument for this pricing policy are the costs of replacing a corked bottle. With a fixed add on it would take a lot of sales of cheap wine to make up for a replacement of DRC…