Wine markups

February 10, 2006

Wow. Apologies for how long it has taken me to post here again. The funny little thing called a “day job” got in the way and before I knew it, a month had passed. Anyways, on to the important stuff. First off, I’m sorry that this post is a rant rather than a wine review. I have had lots of excellent wine lately, but I thought this post was a bit more timely. I know I’ve ranted about markups on wine lists before, but I’m still surprised by my recent experience.

I had dinner at the Velvet Glove on Wednesday night. The food was excellent and the service was good. I’ve never had a bad meal there, and I would rank it as one of the best restaurants in Winnipeg, although not quite on the level of some of the more innovative smaller restaurants. It’s not cheap, but you do get what you pay for.

However, I was really surprised by their wine list. Last time I was there, it was reasonably priced. But somewhere in the last year they have decided to mark their wines up by almost 300%! Sure, they have an excellent and wide selection of wines. Yes, they have rare vintages and unique bottles coming out of the wazoo. But is it necessary to charge such outrageous prices? Case in point: Seven Deadly Zins, which most of you know I’m a big fan of. I can get it in the store for $25 before taxes. So why would I want to pay $64 for a bottle at the Velvet Glove?

And yes, I’ve heard all of the arguments restaurants use to justify high wine markups. I agree with most of them, and I don’t mind paying more for wine in a restaurant. But I have my limits, and this is a bit much. Same goes for the Pirramimma Petit Verdot. $29 in the store. $72 on their list. Thanks, but I’ll stick to Mise next time I want a first-class meal with a good glass (or three) of wine. Now that’s a well-priced wine list (although I am a bit biased!)

Anyways, I still think the Velvet Glove is an excellent restaurant (even if it does look like a set for “Days of Our Lives”). The food is first class and the service is generally excellent (although our poor waiter was having a rough night). But I am not impressed with their wine prices. Perhaps they should reconsider their markup. I’ve always argued that people will buy more wine if it’s well-priced. If a wine costs customers (and the restaurant) $15 in the store, would you rather sell 3 bottles at $30 or one at $45? Is a $30 profit on one bottle better than a $15 profit per bottle on three bottles?


  1. I travel a bit – enough to have noticed that large, chain hotels and fancier restaurants have unusually high markups on wine & spirits.

    I normally stick to local bistros, but every so often I like to go to one of these restaurants. It hurts the wallet a bit but I ususally enjoy the meal (& company).

  2. Earls is the place to go. They get it!
    Great wine list and very affordable. The Osoyoos Larose was only $5.00 more than at the LC.

  3. I agree that Earls has great wine prices – it’s too bad they shrunk the list a bit lately.

    But I didn’t realize that the Larose was available there for $5 more than in the store. I wish more restaurants were like this!–>

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