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Who Gets Your Vote for the Best-Priced Wine List?

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Dec 7, 2006 2:32pm ET

While Marvin has challenged restaurants to lower their wine prices on his blog, I'm curious to find out who you think has already done it.

The number of restaurants with really customer-friendly wine list prices is limited. But of the ones I've dined in, I've noticed one thing—they sell a ton of wine. So obviously this strategy helps to stimulate sales. I don't know why more restaurants aren't picking up on it.

Here in NYC, I'd nominate Landmarc and Pair of 8's as having really easy-on-the-wallet lists. Places such as Tribeca Grill and Nice Matin move a lot of wine with their moderate pricing as well.

It doesn't have to be a list of all cheap wines either—it could be a list that offers lots of rare or older gems with lower-than-normal markups, like the ones at Veritas and Cru, which have their share of great buys for the savvy.

So, don't keep your favorite wine restaurant a secret from the rest of us. Who gets your vote for the Best-Priced Wine List around?

Tim Meranda
Wheaton, IL —  December 7, 2006 3:09pm ET
Courtwrights in the suburbs of Chicago.
Phil Talamo
Bron, NY —  December 7, 2006 4:21pm ET
Since the place is always mobbed it doesn't matter - but Spark Steakhouse in NYC has REEEEEdiculous values. case in point - Pio Cesare Barolo for like $85 - and the steaks are phenomenal
Timothy L Oneal
Kansas City, Missouri —  December 7, 2006 4:33pm ET
AVENUES BISTRO in Kansas City Missouri (New Restaurant) Silver Oak and Caymus at < $100, Duckhorn at $88, plus hard to find stuff. One could have ordered Casa Nova Di Neri (#1 WOTY) at
Joyce Funk
Tampa Florida —  December 7, 2006 4:39pm ET
Without a doubt Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa Florida!...i have found so many wines at or below current retails prices it is unbelievable and that is if you can find the wines at all. I polished off a good bit of their 1955 P. ponnelle Grand cru Burgundies for around $200 each ..i have almost never seen these wines at auction and the fiew times i have they have gone for double that. I have had great 1978 Gigondas for $40 and 1980s cabs for $30 that tasted amazing! as well as Rioja from the 40's for under a $100. There are certain wines that definetly are NOT a good deal especially when it comes to Bordeaux but for the savy shopper this is the PLACE!PLUS...no one can beat their special chateau BrionBrian Funk
Neil Koffler
New York, NY —  December 7, 2006 4:47pm ET
We enjoyed everything about Union Square Cafe including the wine list. There is always something interesting and special on the list and it seems fairly priced to me.Neil
Steven Haught
Oklahoma City, OK USA —  December 7, 2006 5:20pm ET
Lola in Dallas
Harvey Posert Jr
napa valley —  December 7, 2006 5:32pm ET
It may be of interest to note that Bronco Wine Company last year asked if any restaurant would put a wine on the list for $10, and is offering wine to the restaurant which would allow a 400%+ markup, and to my knowledge none have done so.
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  December 7, 2006 10:18pm ET
Isabella's in Geneva, IL.(far western suburb of Chicago) Great Mediterranean dishes and a really nice wine list.
Brad Coelho
New York City —  December 8, 2006 9:30am ET
Metro Cafe and Wine Bar & Spark's Steakhouse to add to your Tribecca Grill and Landmarc selections for NYC.
Hoyt Hill Jr
Nashville, TN —  December 8, 2006 11:13am ET
Unquestionably Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. Last month, I paid $2,000 for a magnum of 1957 Romanee-Conti! And, since the cellar is 45 degrees, evry wine we ordered was in absolutely perfect condition.
Alan Vinci
springfield, n.j. —  December 8, 2006 11:35am ET
James, I do agree with you about Veritas, great list with fair prices. Here in New Jersey I would have to say that Park & Orchard in Rutherford, has recieved a Grand Award for many years running and their wine prices I feel are quite fair. Where else can you enjoy a Haut Brion with a simple stir-fry or a Petrus with grilled vegetables.....
Steve Ritchie
Atlanta, GA —  December 8, 2006 3:13pm ET
Legal Sea Foods in Boston (and elsewhere) features a pretty broad list and boasts that their wines are often 30% below local retail. There is a good selection of half bottles as well.
James R Lundberg
December 8, 2006 5:05pm ET
I agree, Lola in Dallas.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  December 8, 2006 6:26pm ET
As far as chains go, I would say Flemings, followed by California Pizza Kitchen, rounded out by The Olive Garden. I know, everyone here is talking about high-brow eateries, but I think it's nice to know where to go any day of the week. So there....
Alan West
December 8, 2006 7:54pm ET
Passionfish in Pacific Grove, CA.
Patrick Naratil
NY —  December 8, 2006 9:53pm ET
Doris and Ed's, Highlands, NJ. Great prices.
Paul Fishman
milwaukee, wisconsin —  December 8, 2006 10:48pm ET
Dream Dance in Milwaukee! Could be the best restaurant food-wise, as well.
Michael Scherzberg
Napa, CA —  December 9, 2006 1:33am ET
Market in St. Helena, CA. The American Restaurant in Kansas City, MO. The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, CA. These three do a good job. Houston's all over the country has great wine prices too but they have horrible stemware which takes away from an otherwise great bottle of wine.
December 9, 2006 12:04pm ET
WS should publish a monthly list of restaurants with a customer-friendly wine list. How about that?
Jennifer Awbrey
Austin, Tx —  December 10, 2006 5:04am ET
I hope this might mean Wine Spectator will re-think how they determine a restaurant's wine prices in the Restaurant Award Program. Right now, I believe it is based partly on the percentage of the wine list that costs over or under $100. So, if a restaurant has a wine list with lots of expensive wines, they are listed as "Expensive," even if the markup is low.It's also impossible to be fair when you compare wine list prices in different states because of the differences in taxation. Even here in Texas, there are two tiers of taxation on alcohol purchased in restaurants. A restaurant doesn't pay any tax if they only sell beer and wine, it's just sales tax added to your bill. However, if they also sell hard liquor, then the restaurant has to pay 14% tax on all alcohol sales, including beer and wine, and the tax can't be added as a separate item to the bill. So automatically, wine should cost at least 14% less at restaurants in Texas where you can't also buy a martini.
Greg Raynor
December 10, 2006 12:28pm ET
Dino, in the Cleveland Park area of Washington, DC. Fantastic prices AND you get 1/3 off those prices on Sunday and Monday on any bottle listed at over $50. Bravo!
Steve Dunn
phila, PA USA —  December 10, 2006 7:11pm ET
I frequent many casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey and find the wine lists at the Borgata (which by the way were developed by David Gordon) to be excellent, and in my opinion, the best in the city. The lists do not approach that of Cowboy Choi in Arizona, but the Borgata does offer an incredibly wide range of styles and the soms seem to be very good at matching the food with the wines. I like the connection between the servers and the soms. For a casino restaurant where most food/wine is paid for with comp dollars, the prices are reasonable (usually double retail). The stemware is spotless. Specifically, Bobby Flay Steaks, Suilan, Old Homestead, Specchio, Ombre, Sea Blue and Wolfgang Puck's American Grille all share the same master list and are priced the same. The wine cellars are open for all to see which is fun to look at the Screaming Eagles, Gaja and 1st growth Bordeaux on the shelves waiting to be "adopted" by the high rollers.
Steve Dunn
phila, PA USA —  December 10, 2006 7:30pm ET
Almost forgot...."Truffles" in the Clayton section just outside of St. Louis. Great wines that are listed online. Great service and knowlegable servers.
John Norkus Jr
Houston —  December 10, 2006 10:21pm ET
Here in Houston (the most underated foodie town in America) Cafe Rablais--many notable French wines for less than many retail outlets and Ibizza with a fully well rounded list of outstanding wines at modest multiples.
Robert Johnston
Washington DC —  December 11, 2006 8:29am ET
Ditto on Dino in Washington DC. Dean Gold prices all wines at $20 over retail. When you consider that his wine list runs to over 40 pages, the values at the upper end of the list are fantastic. And on Sunday or Monday, with the discount, they are priced under retail.
Tim Webb
high point nc —  December 11, 2006 9:31am ET
Liberty Oak in downtown greensboro north carolina has a thoughtful wine list at great prices, and has done so for over twenty years.
James Molesworth
December 11, 2006 10:11am ET
Jennifer: You're half right. Our pricing categories in the annual Restaurant Awards guide take into account the number of bottles above and below $100. But they also take into account markup as well.

So, a wine list with all its wines over $100 but at low markup could conceivably be 'moderate'.

Details on the criteria, etc, can be found on page 119 of the August 31 issue.
Joseph Byrne
Gardiner NY —  December 11, 2006 11:04am ET
Restaurant Eve in Washington DC area. Nice selection of 1/2 bottles as longs as stock is there.
Garet Tanaka
Maui, Hawaii —  December 11, 2006 1:30pm ET
Vino in Kapalua, Maui.
David Starrs
Minneapolis, MN —  December 11, 2006 1:44pm ET
The best wine list for your buck (and quality) in Minneapolis is at a Thai Restaurant in Uptown called Chiang Mai Thai. They are stocked with great wine at unreal prices- 2002 Domaine Serene Evanstad Reserve - $54, 2001 Plumpjack - $60. I've also enjoyed great prices on Pride, Schafer, Turley, Rockblock, Eponymous and Katherine Kennedy to name a few. They keep a nice stock of Riedel's on hand and make sure to ask for "Johnny" on Wed. and Friday nights as he manages the wine list.
Jennifer Awbrey
Austin, Tx —  December 13, 2006 2:29am ET
James, thank you for the input. I really don't want to bore other guests here with details, but I would really appreciate your advise. I am a novice wine buyer for a bar in Austin, Tx. I am incredibly honored that we received an award from you for our wine list, but it was listed as "expensive." Is there any way I could get some adivse from you on how to change that? So many people tell me they can't believe our low prices that "expensive," in this market at least, gives the wrong impression. I'll leave my personal email address here -- especially since a large family wine organization in Califoria has shared it with the world -- texaswinethief@hotmail.com Thank you. Jennifer
James Molesworth
December 13, 2006 9:04am ET
Jennifer: For any and all Restaurant Awards Program queries, it's easiest to email restaurantawards@mshanken.com directly. I'll forward your question on, we'll take a look at the list, and someone will get back you...

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