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Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine

Posted by chris carrad 
Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 14, 2010 02:00AM
What is it about some people who go to a good restaurant and then complain when they can't take their own wine. If a restaurant is fully licensed, then they should respect that and buy off their list. BYO is not the normal in Europe or even in many places in NZ. You wouldn't take your own food to a restaurant and cook it yourself to save money, so why is it ok for wine? What do you guys think? The reason I ask is that a new restaurant has opened next to me with stunning food and resonable prices, but some people refuse to go because they can't take their own (normally cheap and unsuitable for the food) wine. Your thoughts please.

Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 14, 2010 03:40PM
One word: Profiteering!
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 14, 2010 03:55PM
I feel I must expand on my above post. There are many, many of us who are afraid to admit that we don't understand this whole wine thing. We like a wine with our meal but we don't know what you're talking about when you tell us it's a smart little wine with a beautiful bouquet of new mown hay and an underlying hint of licorice.
Our palates are not refined enough to understand the difference between a $12 wine and a $40+ one. But we do enjoy the $12 wines.
And we feel very affronted when someone tells us OUR choice of wine is wrong for the food we are eating. Excuse me, but it's ME drinking the wine! And finally, I'm not in business so I don't understand how doubling the price of a bottle of wine can be justified. I DO understand that there are overheads, but really..........
And if I've offended anyone by my truthful comments, I'm not sorry. I'm responsible only for my feelings, no one elses.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 14, 2010 05:50PM
I agree with both sides (sorry to sit on the fence)

Yes, i understand that chefs design the food and the mix of flavours and they know best how to accent the flavours with the right quality wine. And if you are going to such restaurants then the wine can top off the dining experience. It is nice to be able to splash out on that experience once in a while. I dont think it is profiteering generally, but sometimes the prices can be a little high.. But the general rule is that you get what you pay for


Sometimes people do not get the full idea / appreciation of what they would be paying for. I agree that a lot of us do not understand the underlying flavours. To a lot of people there is red, white and bubbly. It is great to see that people are experimenting with different foods & different flavours and to a lot of people the journey of flavours is in the food. I dont think it is fair to put people off the dining experience by judging their choice of wine.

In conclusion, I would go to the new restaurant with the stunning food and I would buy a glass of wine. I wouldnt need the whole bottle to drown the flavours of the food. But the price of the wine means it would be more of a special occasion dine out, rather than the BYO night out with friends where the wine flows and the conversation and good times are remembered and the food is secondary.

Everyone has a different opinion and that is mine. A wine connoisseur's opinion will no doubt be different.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 14, 2010 05:53PM
Chris, I think there is room for both BYO and non-BYO restaurants. We go to both.
I have heard that some restaurants that were previously in the 'non' category changed to having at least one BYO night each week just to attract the diners in.
I have an interest in wine, but I do sometimes ask what wine would be best suited to a certain dish, often because the dish may have certain components that would make the wine choice more difficult to decide. I do know the actual cost of many of the wines on a wine list and although I understand the restaurant price, some are a tad on the high side. If there are only two of us dining we generally only order one glass each and we know our choice by the glass is restricted.
Lorna, anyone who tells you YOUR choice of wine is wrong is plain rude and needs some training in customer service and diplomacy. There is NOTHING wrong with you enjoying a $12 bottle of wine. We often do so, ourselves.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 14, 2010 06:59PM
The problem I have, is when I am choosing from SOME restaurant wine lists, and I find a wine that I really enjoy, they want me to pay $48.00 for it when I know I can purchase it from the supermarket for $15.00. Now why would I? I don't mind paying more, and you can call me tight fisted if you like, but I certainly will not pay double the price and then some.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 14, 2010 08:24PM
The reality is that many supermarkets sell below cost. They typically get up 15% discount on the trade price that a restaurant would have to pay. They then charge the discounts back to the supplier, another 10 -15% discount there, they also charge 2.5% discount in just to pay the supplier on time (we're looking at up to 40% discount from the normal trade price some times). They also run on small margins and use alcohol as a loss leader. So I won't accept that argument. (we digress)
A smart restaurant dosen't have those wines on their lists anyway. What I'm talking about is not cheap eats, but quality restaurants who hold wine supplies, wash your glasses, plates for you, recommend wines to go with their menu, serve the wines, cook the food, privide a relaxed atmosphere, pay the high business rates, pay for water rates, clean up after you, replace the wine if it is faulty, and still smile. It's not and shouldn't just be about opening a bottle of wine. It is the whole experience. I would not walk into a bar in the Viaduct with a bottle of beer and offer them $2 for an empty glass to put it in because they charge $8 for the same beer that I bought for $2, but it seems ok to do this in a restaurant? The mark up in bars is more than in restaurants generally. Most restaurants double the trade price to get a list price. The US generally triple it (not many BYO there), and Europe is somewhere in between. I actually think NZ is lucky and has some great food, restaurants and wine lists at a good price in global terms.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 15, 2010 01:21AM
Hmmmm Obviously I am not frequenting the quality restaurants of which you speak...... cool smiley
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 15, 2010 02:34AM
Chris, correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't a restaurant buy at least one case of (a) wine/s? We often buy a case (sometimes a mixed dozen) from a winery or other outlet and there is always a lower price per bottle than if we bought one or two bottles.
I know we don't pay the exhorbitant (as we see it) price that some really high quality overseas restaurants charge. I remember going to one restaurant in Sydney and murmuring to my husband.."We are going to be teetotallers tonight".
We did change our minds, but the wine wasn't the reason we chose that restaurant.
Going back to your opening post, when a restaurant opts to be non-BYO, that is their choice. It would not stop me going there to enjoy a meal.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 15, 2010 04:52PM
You pay $35 for a decent steak at a restaurant when you could get the steak for under $10 and cook it yourself.

You pay $3 for a 300ml glass of coke at a restaurant when you can buy 2L bottles for $3

Beer at a restaurant is $7 or $2 at the supermarket.

You can make the meal & drink the wine and beer cheaper at home but you go to the restaurant for the experience.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 15, 2010 05:18PM
Just to show how trade pricing works (or doesn't work if you're small). From Foster's current catalogue.

Shingle peak sauv blanc (minimum 1 case) price per bt inc gst $15.87. they then have to put their mark up on that. I believe the supermarkets have had it at $7.99 before. Supermarkets bully their way to lower prices that the supplier cannot really afford, but do it just to keep market share. Your independent wine merchant or restaurant cannot get these prices unless they take 1000 cases ie a whole container.

Yes buying any bottle of wine in any restaurant is going to incur a sizable increase from normal purchase prices, but that is the way it is. What you get in Europe, which you don't here is the good old carafe (1 litre of unmarked wine) or half carafe (half litre) of house red or white. Normally sold to them in bulk, normally good quality (because the restaurant took time to choose carefully) and normally very well priced because it is totally free from branding. If more restaurants did that here, the question of corkage would be much less important.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 18, 2010 12:02AM
If restaurants didn't charge what they charge for alcohol, there'd be very few restaurants in NZ. Same with cafes - without the add-on for the liquids (coffee, tea, milkshakes, juices, etc), most cafes wouldn't exist. Restaurants can probably cope with offering lower prices if they're in a big city and full every night but in any other situation they're walking a very tight rope and if you think they're making a profit then obviously you've never owned a restaurant or cafe.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
December 18, 2010 01:16AM
I think there is a market for both licensed and BYO restaurants and customers will follow what suits them best. Pre children I frequently went out for dinner to both licensed and BYO and some of my best meals out were with degustation menus and wines to match - glorious, but not cheap.
Nowadays, with a family, we tend to stick more to the BYO options. To enjoy a couple of wines with dinner it already costs us $100 for a babysitter and a taxi before we even add on the cost of the night out. We wouldn't get out much at all if we also had to pay for wine at licensed premises. Then again, we have a closer place which is licensed and we can walk home. A good night out and a night off cooking and cleaning up is always welcomed, BYO or licensed.
As an aside, at least wine is generally consistent. My pet peeve is going out for a meal and finding I could do a better job at home!!
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
January 04, 2011 05:42PM
I've only just seen this post and found the debate interesting. I agree with Chris - if you want fine dining then don't expect BYO. If you want a good cafe style meal, then by all means take your own bottle. As Foodtographer says, has anyone worked out the margins on the food. No one seems to complain about that. We readily accept to pay a margin on food but why not wine? It's all part of the night out. And its not profiteering - it's necessary to keep the business profitable. They're not in it solely for love!
Plus if its a decent restaurant, the sommelier will be far more qualified than me to select a wine so I welcome their suggestions. I may not always take them on, or will debate/discuss it but they know their wine list better than I do and that's why I am paying a premium.
And Jo, it irks me too when I know that I could have cooked it better myself. But it's the restaurant that loses out in the end as I don't return.
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
February 17, 2011 04:40AM
We have lived in Europe for 2 years and returned last year.We ate out a lot and also tried a couple of Michellin starred restaurants.We observed that wine is not double the price that is charged in the supermarket ,it is only slightly dearer,so we never felt ripped off .We also found if we wanted a glass of wine,the price was roughly the bottle divided by the amount of glasses and charged the same as for paying for a bottle,a much fairer way of selling a glass we thought .I presume because wine is not hugely expensive even in the top restaurants they dont need to have BYOs in Europe.Our local smart restaurant charged only a couple of Euros more than the local supermarket for their wine and it was full every night, maybe the restaurants here could learn something .
Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
February 20, 2011 08:22PM
Here is a link to Wine Spectator in the US, where they have spoken to a sommelier in the US about thier BYO policy. Note the $50 us corkage fee. We get off lightly here. Good reading though.

Re: Tight fisted diners when it comes to wine
February 21, 2011 07:08PM
Hi All

I agree with Chris, you want a dining experience at a good Restaurant and pay for that service and quality. Here in Hamilton we have 3 restaurants that constantly win awards and I am happy to pay the cost of wine to match with the food they serve. Thats why they win awards consistently because they know what they are doing.
Yes, we do get off lightly if we choose a cafe style meal with BYO facilities at $8-$15 corkage as opposed to a high end where there is no BYO. If you chose a high end restaurant pay for the service and sit back and enjoy it. Don't moan about the cost of everything.

Helen B.
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