JWL Issue #017: Ordering from a Restaurant (Pricing)

August 28, 2018

Thank you to everyone who helped fill out my survey last week about how to improve the Wine List. There’s broadly a lot of overlap with why people are reading this and what they enjoy, which is good. I’ll be exploring a few new ideas to introduce soon.

I’ve been doing the final organisational bits for my podcast. Recordings will be taking place over the next few weeks. It’s going to be an Introduction to English Wine, and will be released in early October.

Researching this has been a lot of fun: there’s a lot of incredible winemakers in England: I can’t wait to showcase a lot of them to you.

I did a ‘vertical’ tasting this week: two wines from the same producer but from different years. The difference between the two was incredible and I highly recommend it. 


Jackson and Seddon are an organic Italian wine club that sends you three new wines each month. Nicodemo, the red they sent this month made by Tenuta Mareli was incredible and a standout highlight. A robust and full bodied red but with much softer and smoother tannins than I’m used to for Italian reds like this.

The Il Civettaio rosé was fruit-driven, refreshing with more body than a Provençal style. Their white was the weaker of the three for me, with a very organic nose. Overall a really interesting merchant with lots to find. All wines are vegan friendly too.

In Sainsbury’s this week, I picked up Santa Rita (£8.50), a Chilean pinot noir made in collaboration with the National Gallery. This was an easy drinking pinot, with lots of bright, concentrated fruit and a little bit of spice.


Ordering wine in a restaurant: part two

Price is a contentious issue in a restaurant. There’s two broad models: a multiplier of retail price (most common) or adding a fixed amount on top of bottles (say £20).

Before I go for dinner, I’ll usually find the wine list and compare the prices on a couple of bottles against the retail value.

I’ve seen everything from 2x to 5x on a retail price. I haven’t visited enough restaurants to make up a ‘rule’ but I’ve personally found the highest multipliers were at older, stuffier, more expensive restaurants.

There’s so many adages about the cheapest/second cheapest on the menu. Ignore these. Any decent restaurant will care about all their wine and as most volume is sold at the cheaper end, more attention will be paid to it: so there’s likely to be great value here. 

Ultimately, you’re going to spend more on wine in a restaurant than you would at home. Check out wine lists in advance to see what the profit gap is, work out how much you’re willing to spend and then ask for a recommendation in that bracket.



Barnyard is an aroma that will typically display in the broad category of natural, organic or biodynamic wines. Whether you like it or not, I’ve broadly found correlates to whether you like game or not. It smells of manure, animals, wild game etc. I’ve rarely found it to transfer through to the palate. 

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