Restaurant patrons are accustomed to paying more for the same bottle of wine sold at liquor stores or wine shops, but when that bottle is priced as much as four or five times the retail price, the vino may sit in the cellar collecting dust for a very long time.
Ian Mendelsohn, owner and sommelier of Vine & Tap at 2770 Lenox Road in Buckhead, hopes to buck the system and make more wine accessible to customers at his Buckhead bistro. He is overhauling wine pricing, changing his entire bottle list to prices approaching those at retail stores.
Beginning Aug. 16, patrons will see a revamped wine list with drastically lower prices. For example, a bottle of Semillion by 2012 Dirty & Rowdy, an orange wine, currently sold at $71 will be marked down to about $42. Champagne lovers can enjoy a bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvée for $86 instead of the current $124.
“I want to see those bottles in hands, not sitting on shelves,” Mendelsohn said, explaining that the anticipated increase in wine sales by volume makes it feasible for him to sell bottles at a lower price. “If I can sell 10 percent more bottles, I can make even,” he said.
The bottle list at Vine & Tap currently numbers around 125 labels. Mendelsohn will be expanding that list in the coming weeks and months, with a goal of having between 225 and 250 bottles by the end of the year. He expects the list to change frequently, however, as limited availability high-end and boutique wines move more quickly because of the new pricing structure.
Not everyone is a wine connoisseur. How will those customers be able to recognize unique, special wines on a list or that the bottles have been priced at a value? “We will have a lot more training about service and wine,” he replied. “My staff and I will approach it as, ‘We have some of the best bottle prices in the city. Is there anything I can help you with?’”
As a result of the change, Vine & Tap will no longer be offering its Sunday night special of half-price any bottle on the wine list.
Those who prefer to order by the glass will still see plenty of options – including wine from the high-end spectrum, which Vine & Tap is able to make available because it invested in the Coravin wine preservation system.