Pricing wine to match menu prices

Joined Jan 15, 2000
Back in the day, I vaguely remember a "wine rule" that somehow related the price of a bottle of wine at a restaurant to the average price of an entree on the menu. Does anyone remember how it goes?

Here's the real a casual restaurant with dinner entree prices ranging from $7 sandwiches to $13 seared salmon, what would you expect in terms of price, number of selections and type of selections on the wine list?
Joined Aug 11, 2000
$2.50 for tap beer....
$3.50 starting per glass going up to 11 or 12 per glass
I'd probably go to mid 20's for a btl or low 30's if it's one I really like.

Though it's pretty usual for us to spend mid 30's a btl of Gigiondas at a Bistro that has pris fixe of low twenties/mid for 3 course and then finish with a glass of ice wine...usually on the house cause they are buddies so I have no clue how much it costs per glass.
Joined Jan 15, 2000
I meant to ask that from the perspective of the person making up the list. What should the price range be for a wine program with that tyoe of food menu?


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I have never heard of any hard and fast rule about how to price your wines compared to your menu. I think that it is more a common sense thing. I just put a bistro menu together to show to a perspective employer and with it I put together a wine list. Most of the wines are in $20-30 range with about a 1/4 of the list being higher and 3-4 bottles well over $100. Being in Chicago, I don't think that you could go much lower than that without losing your shirt. Maybe pull the range down a few dollars to $18. But always keep a couple of highend bottles around. There will always be someone who is celebrating something and wants to splurge. And why miss a $100-150 upsell? As for length, no one coming to a place like you are suggesting is looking for a Wine Spectator award winning list, so a list in the range of 20-35 wines is plenty. It's difficult to go much less than that I think. The break down would be 3-4 bubbles, 2-3 rose (or blush) and the rest divided equally among reds and whites.
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Hi David,

I will be in town from the 19th through the 22nd of May.
I believe Nicko is trying to work some things out as far as get together. Greek town and on the 20th go to arun's for Thai. As to your question on wine pricing inregards to food pricing I think is determined by the style and food cost of your restaurant. I.E Low/Mid or High end.also how you purchase your wines. Futures,wholesale,retail etc. Can you buy low...hold them and then put them on the list when they mature and charge a premium? Or do you have to buy as you go and sell mostly current vintages. What type of perks do you get...1 cs on every 10 for example..or monthly posts. If I am selling lets say some type of duck breast for $23.00 and I really want my guest to be able to enjoy the appropriate wine with it I will price 3 wines in different price points with 1 of them at the same price or a little higher then the duck. This will give the customer the choice of staying in a comfort zone if they need to be or they can opt for the high profile wine. I generally mark up 2 to 2 1/2 times my cost. So the initial research is important to find wines that cover different menu prices. Again, I really think most of the pricing structure has to do with your buying strategize. I hope this makes sense :)
Hey ,BTW are you coming to the chat tonight? I think you can add some interesting view points.
Regards Brad
----- Original Message -----
From: David Jones
Joined Aug 12, 2000
I had dinner the other night in a kitchy little place where all the cool-but-poor people eat. On the "beverages" blackboard they had listed "fine wine: red or white-$3". The wine came in a jelly glass with cartoon characters on it. It tasted like Citra Montepulciano. It was fun, I was happy.

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