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Restaurant wine list mark up


My recent post re the mark up of a bottle of wine at around 4.5 times retail cost (Wot no Assyrtiko? ) got me thinking, where can you go to drink decent wine without the big mark up?

I am going shortly to Brinkleys just for this reason. No idea what the food is like but the wine list is great and sold at close to retail prices.


Anyone have any other places to recommend with similar mark up on the wine?


I really enjoy eating out and cant begrudge the restaurant markup on wine. It’s a really tough business to stay afloat in (talking independant’s here, I couldn’t care less about chains) with tough long hours. Lots of bills to cover too, and of course you want to make a profit at the end of the day. I believe the margins need to be higher on wine than they are for food just to make the business work. You’re paying to go and be fed and wined in a nice environment.

With that said there are a few places where the markup is unreasonable and they are clearly taking the p*** but on the whole I’m happy to pay the list price.


Mark ups have somewhat been discussed on this thread before :

I for the most part can not justify paying for wine in a restaurant when the mark-up is not proportional to the actual value of the wine.
There is a wine bar near me , their mark ups are ridiculous. Currently they are selling an organic natural white from Sicily for £8 a glass . You can buy the whole bottle online for £3.20! Shocking !!


One of the many reasons I don’t eat out more than a couple of times a year in this country (OK, if I lived in London it would be a very different story).

I get the overheads thing… but how does a restaurant in Spain or Greece (with overheads too) manage to sell wine almost at less than double retail price (and often a lot less)? The same is true in Italy, though to a lesser extent.

Given the above, I prefer to save my pounds (ever decreasing in value, of course, given the omnishambles we are living through) for trips to the Med.


I suspect firstly the wine is a lot cheaper for them to buy, and secondly their overheads are far lower than a UK restaurant. If you look up the value of a bottle of wine you enjoyed on holiday here in the UK, its going to be several times the cost, duty and business rates etc all add up.

Leah’s example is definitely them taking the p*** though, that annoys me too.


I went to Chiltern Firehouse a couple years ago with friends. Wine list was an inch thick, there was only one bottle under £100. Food was good, but I won’t be going back. Absolute thievery.


I think as others have said, a reasonable mark up, particularly if linked with good service and a wine served at an appropriate temperature in a half decent receptacle is ok. Some places do of course just take the piss

Of course the best way to drink a selection of excellent wine with your meal without paying a premium is a Community BYOB lunch/dinner!


I’d almost never order wine in a restaurant for this reason, especially if it’s a lazy £x x200% or similar. I know there are overheads but why put so much on the wine when it is in fact way cheaper to store and serve. The food should have mark up… It requires waaaaay more equipment and man hours.

I’d almost only consider going to a byob place out of principal as i get the bottle i want, i can decant it prior to serving and won’t get the mick taken.


Scarcely any BYOB places out in the sticks though (and even “semi-sticks” like Oxford), and those that there are are mostly Indian, which is not wine-friendly anyway!


Middle Eastern places are often BYO too. I happen to have two about five minutes’ walk from where I live - no corkage either, and good value food.

I don’t believe restaurant wine prices of 3 and 4 time retail are anything to do with the high costs of running a restaurant. It is how they choose to mark up wine relative to food. It would be difficult for an individual restaurant to break ranks on that, as they would suddenly have a much more expensive (food) menu, and that is what we Brits generally look at when deciding where to eat. But it can be done differently.

Incidentally, @Leah, I would love to know where you can get this natural Sicilian white online for £3.20. My guess would be from Italy - and without paying UK duty, as if you subtract UK VAT and duty, there is about 45p left for everything else. Nevertheless, I might like to put in an order :wink:


I agree @Nowt_in_my_glass, the food should be dearer. There’s something wrong if they are selling at a loss. We don’t often eat out but if we do, we accept that the wine mark up is really contributing to subsidised food. Our rule of thumb is that the wine is effectively an extra guest on the bill.


I wouldn’t bother it’s absolutely awful stuff :see_no_evil:


Of course you’re right, Steve - Middle Eastern is the way to go, and indeed the way I go when I do BYO round here! I’m not sure how many there are though when you really get into the sticks :grinning:


I’m quite fortunate to have some decent byob in leeds but i think most restaurants have a reasonable corkage policy. Maybe that’s one of the reasons kitchens go bust as diners simply do not see the value in high mark-ups. I know it’s an industry standard thing and I’m sure most restaurateurs will come up with some justification but as a consumer a restaurant owner’s livelihood isn’t my obligation, i want a good value meal and drink which seems to be few a far between.

I think I’d rather eat the extra guest’s food :pig:


If you look at the wine list for Brinkleys in my original post you’ll see the mark up there is ridiculous small for a restaurant. From memory a bottle of Tignanello was about £110 which isn’t much more than retail price.

Now id never normally order a wine for that price as it’s normally a bottle worth about £30 but here it looks appealing!


I was having lunch the other day at The Jones Family Project in Shoreditch, and was surprised to see Krug at retail price. Not very helpful, really.

In general, the NPM restaurants (Ledbury, La Trompette, Glasshouse, Chez Bruce)don’t mark up absurdly.


Yorkshire often good. I recall visiting a pub a few years back that had Grange at below retail. Can’t remember the name of it, but think it was a sister establishment to this one, which is also very reasonable: http://www.generaltarleton.co.uk/wine-menu.html


Haven’t been to the Ledbury for years, so not sure if my experience is relevant, but I actually thought it was fairly reasonable - between 2 and 3 times retial, at least at the lower end. We had a wonderful Szepsy Furmint for about £65, if remember rightly, whch must have been at least 25 retail, and they had Montesquiou’s lovely Jurancon Cuvée Préciouse for less than 40. Have to say I’d rather have beautifully curated list like this at this markup than one of the thousands that make you lose the will to live through sheer tedium, even if the markup is a bit less.


Yes, and the irony here is that Seamus is a real star, with expertise worth paying for (and wines that are good value and not just standard agency offerings), and their glassware is also superb.


I find restaurant wine very frustrating. I get that they need to make money and I guess, in the UK at least, they will also have to pay for an alcohol licence. But I can’t really afford to eat out much and when I do I simply can’t afford to pay the mark up for the quality of wine I prefer and so usually just get the mostly pretty nondescript house wine. This is generally less disappointing than getting a more expensive but lower quality than my usual preference.