By John ~ January 7th, 2009.
The stock market just completed its worst year since the Great Depression years. Housing prices have taken their biggest dive since records have been kept. Manufacturing activity is the lowest in almost 30 years. And, according to industry figures, restaurants are facing the slowest time since the 9/11 attacks.
Yet you would think times are still rosy if you study the wine lists of major restaurants, at least here in the Seattle area. With rare exception, I see few deals and an industry still in denial. Two to 2.5 times retail price up to 4+ times retail pricing is still prevalent. This means 4 to 8+ times the restaurantâ€™s cost on a bottle of wine. I studied the online wine lists of a representative list of the primo restaurants in the area and hereâ€™s what I found, listed in the order of relative attractiveness of its wine list pricing:
- Saltyâ€™s on Alki â€“ They had the best relative prices on our comparison test, understanding that the â€œbestâ€ is still more than 4 times their cost on average. They have a decent but not great wine list but a good mixture of reasonable value along with some high price wines.
- Waterfront Seafood Grill â€“ Not a huge list, but some good wines. A distant second to Saltyâ€™s on the price comparison test.
- El Gaucho â€“ Fairly small wine list, but again some good wines.
- Metropolitan Grill â€“ Good wine list with emphasis on West Coast wines. They also had a list of closeout and hot deal wines, but their regular pricing was fourth in our comparison test.
- Canlis â€“ The biggest wine list by far, but also the highest prices. Great restaurant with a great view, but no deals on either food or wine from what Iâ€™ve seen.
To find a combination of a decent wine list and reasonable pricing (for a restaurant, at least), here are a couple of good choices in my opinion:
- Purple CafÃ© & Wine Bar â€“ They offer wine by the flight, by the glass, by the half bottle, bottle, or case. They also have no corkage fee on the first bottle that you bring.
- Stumbling Goat Bistro â€“ They have an attractive wine list with both a local and international flavor.
If you know of other Seattle restaurants with good wine list pricing, please let us know. Iâ€™ve heard that 94 Stewart Restaurant falls into this category, but I havenâ€™t been there myself.
Filed under: General Wine Information