Bargains on restaurant wine lists – NYC edition

bottlecellarWhen is a wine cheaper in a restaurant than at a store?

With restaurant markups commonly 300 or 400 percent you could be forgiven for answering, “never.” But right now, there’s a restaurant in NYC where the head sommelier is clearing out his inventory. Unfortunately, he’s already blown through most of the wines that cost him less than $300. But for all (both?) the high rollers out there, the wines that he bought for north of $300 and he has multiple bottles of, he’s happy to part with them for as little as $100 above his cost. As silly as it sounds, that means that a wine that costs $750 a bottle in a store might only cost $600 at the restaurant!

Consider another example. The sommelier told me that one patron wanted to spend $900 on the Domaine Romanee Conti, Grands Echezaux, 2005. But the sommelier asked him if he would like a better wine that’s drinking better now, the DRC, La Tache, 2006 for $750. The diner readily accepted. Fancy that, a downsell! (is that even a word?)

The price reductions are indicated not on the wine list, however. The somm told me that he gives them mainly to regulars or “people who seem nice.” So if you have an anniversary, marriage proposal, big birthday, or other celebratory event coming up no matter which fine restaurant you’re in, it might not hurt to indicate your (high) price point and ask if that’s the most exciting thing in that vein (cough**cough**price) on the wine list.

Unfortunately, the sommelier requested anonymity since he said that there is no across-the-board policy. But in other NYC deals, Veritas, the wine shrine on 20th St., is offering 25% off all wines on the list. And Bar Boulud is offering a “Pannier du jour,” wherein a magnum, jerobaum, imperial or Methusalem is hauled up from the cellar, uncorked and sold by the glass for between $19 and $29 a glass. It may sound like a lot but some recent selections have included the 04 Jadot Bonnes-Mares (3L) and the 1978 Ducru Beaucaillou (mag). Maybe if you get the last glass you could take the bottle home?

At the lower-priced value end, Perry Street, Jojo, and Vong each offers a red and a white bottle of wine for $20 at lunch time as well as a $5 wine by the glass.

Hit the comments with other deals you know about!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

5 Responses to “Bargains on restaurant wine lists – NYC edition”

  1. That is great to know about Bar Boulud, thanks. I still subscribe to the “no more than 100% (fair, honest old-school NYC) retail” mentality with a pass given for grey market bottles. I see so many places where wines are jacked to three times retail that I hardly order wine at a restaurant anymore. I was at Fatty Crab and saw things on the list at 75 that more expensive stores sell for 25. And they were “nerdy” wines, too. Unbelievable.

  2. Thanks for the great article Tyler. If anyone would like to know what “Pannier du Jour” I’m pouring by the glass in real-time you can follow my twitter handle: BARBOULUD

  3. The recession isn’t playing tricks on my eyes. It’s crazy to see a restaurant price lower than store price. Next you’re going to tell me that Superman is allergic to the yellow sun.

  4. Wow, I wish I lived 3,000 miles closer to Bar Boulud

  5. now that will never happen in BC Canada because all our booze has to be brought through the liquor board. Atleast the restaurants here only mark up 100% and lower % for more expensive wine


Wine Maps

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

See my op-eds in the NYT
"Drink Outside the Box"
"Red, White, and Green"


Monthly Archives


Blog posts via email



Wine industry jobs


One of the “fresh voices taking wine journalism in new and important directions.” -World of Fine Wine

“His reporting over the past six months has had seismic consequences, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a blog.”

"News of such activities, reported last month on a wine blog called Dr. Vino, have captivated wine enthusiasts and triggered a fierce online debate…" The Wall Street Journal

"...well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober." -Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher, WSJ

jbf07James Beard Foundation awards

Saveur, best drinks blog, finalist 2012.

Winner, Best Wine Blog

One of the "seven best wine blogs." Food & Wine,

One of the three best wine blogs, Fast Company

See more media...


Wine books on Amazon: