Why are Wines so Expensive in Restaurants?

Money! We all love ordering wine with food, but restaurant wine lists can often cause a guest to gasp. People often complain about the prices of wine in restaurants and that’s because the wine in restaurants can be pricy.

Guests usually ask for a cheap wine or rant about how the same wine is cheaper at their local wine shops or liquor stores…can you blame them?  I may be a Sommelier, but I’m certainly no millionaire.  I have to watch my wallet like anyone else.

I’m not trying to be rude or make anyone feel bad for not wanting, or not being able to spend a lot of money on wine with dinner. However, we must realize that we all overpay for food when going out a restaurant or even a bar.

Obviously, if we cook at home and buy wine directly from a wine shop, we’ll save money; the same goes for liquor. Jack Daniels probably costs a bar about $15.00 a bottle, but any regular Jack Daniels-based drink costs about $4.00 to $6.00. Here’s some “food” for thought: An average pour from a bottle is around 1 ½ ounces, and there’s probably about twenty-five ounces per bottle. Let’s just say the average price is $5 a drink; that would equal $125 per bottle. Putting that in perspective, a restaurant makes about $110 profit for each bottle!!!

A six-pack of Bud Light is usually around $4.00, but you probably spend around $3 to $4 just for one bottle at Applebees, Fridays or any regular neighborhood restaurant. While spending $10.00 on a couple drinks or beers sounds a lot better than spending $50.00 on a bottle of wine it all really evens out.  Dining out just costs more on all levels.

I’m not afraid to buy a $20.00 bottle of wine, pay the restaurant corkage fee and still wine up spending less than a similar bottle on the restaurant’s wine list.

Why are wines in restaurants so expensive?



Restaurants and bars generally charge the same for a glass of wine as the cost of the entire bottle. Because wine does perish, this offsets costs if the restaurant is stuck with an open bottle that doesn’t get sold. On that note, do not be afraid to order wine by the glass. This way you can pair each course and experience different wines without having to buy an entire bottle of wine.


Yours truly,
-The Modern Somm

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