I hope Snooth readers are not tiring of me talking about my cruise, but I wanted to highlight something that I found very interesting. I took some of my own wine on board to somewhat avoid paying outrageous wine list rates. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to dining room/restaurant wine list prices like these:
Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (2007) -- $155.
The winery price for the current 2008 and 2009 versions of the Special Selection is $130. I know that “winery price” is a “not to exceed” number. So, the “street price” is probably something more in the range of $110. Then, take into account that we are talking about the 2007 version which, now has a few more years of age on it. The mark-up to $155 is pretty darned reasonable. FYI, this is a pretty “rough” wine. I liked it a lot because it is so mouth filling, but be ready for splinters in your mouth from oak and twigs.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve (2005) -- $135.
You can go to the Robert Mondavi web site and order this wine, today, for the very same $135. So, again, I’ll bet the “street price” is about $100-$110. Believe me this is an excellent wine.
Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino (2005) -- $55.
From the Snooth database the price for the only source for this wine is about $53.It may very well be that this wine was released years ago for, maybe, $36.So, even at that price $55 is a pretty consumer friendly mark-up.
La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (2009) -- $36.
I saw this wine on a store shelf, today, for $17. So, the mark-up is a tad over “twice retail.” This is my norm when trying to judge the fairness of restaurant wine lists.
Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc (2009) -- $30.
I know this is an $8.99 wine at the stores I visit.So, now we are getting a 3X mark-up on the retail price.
Kenwood Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc (2009) -- $25.
Another $8.99 wine.So, the mark-up is between 2 and 3 times retail.
Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio (2009) -- $32.
It appears that the “street” price for this wine is about $10-11. So, it’s a 3 X mark-up.
The obvious conclusion here is that by drinking the lower price wines with dinner, I was paying an excessive g-factor. By drinking the better wines, I was paying a very reasonable mark-up.
As I mentioned above, when I am reviewing a wine list in a restaurant, I am comfortable with pricing that is twice what I expect to pay in a retail store. All too often, however, I see three times retail and that irritates me a tad.
I had long suspected that the mark-up on better wines was less than for lower-dollar mass marketed ones, but I’d never really studied any list before.
- Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (2007) -- $155.
Wine List Prices
- Reply by Lucha Vino, Oct 28, 2011.
Is the cruise ship charging you a corkage fee when you bring your own bottle to their restaurant(s)?
- Reply by EMark, Oct 29, 2011.
Their literature said that they do charge $15 corkage to BYOB in one off their restaurants or dining rooms. I did take one of my bottles to one of the restaurants one evening, and they did not charge me the $15. I'm not sure if I charmed them by sharing a few tastes with the waiter and the head waiter of if they just forgot.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 31, 2011.
Give up too much of your wine and that's your $15. ;-)
A good point also is that the markup on the expensive wines is much lower as a percentage, but that figures because the absolute dollar margin is higher. It almost doesn't pay to drink cheap, since you are already paying a ton for the privilege of sailing.
A couple things I have noted: I've seen deals on the Caymus at 90-ish, but short term only. Mostly the street price has been in the $110 range at reasonable retailers. The 2007 vintage got a lot of play. I think your observations about the wood are part of the style.
The Mondavi is a $100 wine, has been for a while. You can find it for $90 sometimes. It's a widely available wine that is made extraordinarily well. The '90 was one of the handful of best wines I've ever had. These days, I go a little off the beaten path, but never dismiss that wine as a good bet to make you very happy.
That La Crema can be had in California for $18 or so, but when I go to NYC, it's always a few bucks more. I think they are considered more up-market for Cal PN on the East Coast, but I haven't had it in a while. About three years ago, I brought it to NJ for Thanksgiving and the hosts served me Brancott, a $10 bottle, and kept mine. They oohed and aahed when I gave it to them, so it seemed a little weird that they didn't open it, but I guess they didn't want to have to share!
In general, I think when you go out, you can't start at the bottom of the list in major businessman restaurants, which is what a cruise ship is like.
- Reply by JonDerry, Nov 1, 2011.
Yeah, you could've got the 2008 Caymus Special Selection at Costco for $99.99 last year, but they don't last long. This year, the 2009 Caymus Special Selection is available there for $104.99.
A good or even a very good wine, but there's also a lot of similar or maybe even better wine out there at the $60-$70 level.