The Wine Disconnect When Dining Out

Dining out has always been more expensive than eating at home. There are plenty of reasons for that.

A restaurant not only has the cost of ingredients to deal with, but also a whole lot of overhead — rent, utilities, taxes, wages and many other recurring expenses.

Toss in the occasional air conditioner breakdown, and you can understand why so many restaurants fail each year — even when there isn’t a pandemic further complicating matters.

Diners tend to “get it” when it comes to food. They know what a great cut of beef costs at a butcher shop, and don’t blink an eye when a restaurant charges so much more for the same cut.

Yet there’s something of a disconnect when it comes to wine. Diners are less understanding when they encounter a bottle that has been marked way up from the liquor store price — even though the restaurant incurs storage costs, may employ a knowledgeable sommelier or wine steward to help guests with selections, and often sees two or three of its fine (i.e., expensive) pieces of stemware broken on each shift.

Restaurant industry officials are telling us that we should not expect the price of dining out to come down anytime soon. In addition to the usual costs, restaurateurs have been dealing with labor shortages, delivery inconsistences, product shortages and other challenges.

More than ever, wine-focused restaurants deserve our support — even if it can’t be quite so frequently as in the past. Meanwhile, we can fill in our culinary adventures with more home-cooked meals, accompanied by curated wines that represent exceptional quality without the restaurant price tags.

Even better, if you don’t finish the wine with tonight’s meal, you can save the rest for tomorrow’s home happy hour.

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