Price check: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label

Are you being overcharged for a bottle of wine? We called restaurants across the country to find out


Thomas Rogers
December 10, 2009 6:01AM (UTC)

This story has been corrected since it was originally published.

Maybe you’ve been in this situation before: You’re having a nice meal at your favorite restaurant and you’d like to order a solid, familiar bottle of wine to go with it. But then you glance at the wine list and realize that the bottle you bought for $15 for your friend’s cats-in-costumes-themed birthday party last weekend will set you back two, or three, or many times more at your table. Inevitably, the irritating question arises: Why am I paying so much money for somebody to uncork a bottle and pour it in my glass?

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Markups vary dramatically from restaurant to restaurant, and are often an establishment's main source of profit, but the easiest way to avoid being overcharged for a bottle of wine is to educate yourself before you check out the wine list. With that in mind, we’re kicking off an occasional feature that we’re calling "price check,"  in which we take one bottle, several restaurants, and compare their prices. (Since wholesale prices paid by a restaurant are highly variable, we're comparing menu prices to that of an average online wine retailer.)

The bottle: To start things off, we’ve chosen a perennial favorite: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label. The dry champagne is a frequent crowd pleaser -- described by its makers as "well-structured" with the scent of white fruits, raisins, vanilla and, oddly enough, brioche. It is also, largely because of its popularity, a frequent target of overzealous pricing. "It seems to sell at nearly any price, with no work, so wine managers tend to mark it up harshly," says Tara Q. Thomas, a senior editor at Wine & Spirits, and a member of our Kitchen Cabinet.

What you pay for a bottle: An average price for a full 750 ml bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, at online retailer Liquor Outlet Wine Cellars, is $48.15.

How do dining-out prices hold up?


Place at Perry’s


7-year-old Dallas steakhouse

Price: $89
Difference: +85 percent

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Siroc Restaurant


Mid-price D.C. Italian-Mediterranean dining room

Price: $91
Difference: +88 percent

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Bar Artisanal


Terrance Brennan’s popular TriBeCa bistro

Price: $95
Difference: +97 percent

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Cassis


2-year-old Zagat-rated San Francisco French restaurant

Price: $99
Difference: +106 percent

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Delmonico’s


Legendary 172-year-old Manhattan steakhouse

Price: $105
Difference: +118 percent

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Nobu


New York branch of Nobu Matsuhisa’s renowned Asian fusion empire

Price: $120
Difference: +149 percent

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Corridor 44


Denver champagne bar and dining room

Price: $120
Difference: +149 percent

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Les Deux


über-hip "The Hills"-featured L.A. restaurant/club

Price: $325
Difference: +575 percent


Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

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