• By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm   |     |   Print   |   Permalink

A week in the Cactus League spring training fields may be helpful in meeting upcoming baseball players, but it doesn’t do much to advance the study and experience of wine. Yet even in the heat of the Arizona desert, I ran across a wine list with a difference. And in an unexpected place, a sports bar.

Clad in ball park togs, I drove past those wonderful upscale Scottsdale restaurants to reach sports bars — yes, just to watch sports analysts tell me what I had been witnessing all afternoon.

In a boistrous pizza bistro, where everything, it seemed, was singed in a roaring live-fire oven, I was handed a one-page wine list showing some fairly respectable wines at, for Scottsdale, fairly reasonable prices.

Each wine was followed by figures in a column: vintage year, glass price, bottle price, and — retail price. The latter was a new one for me. The retail price column showed what that particular bottle cost on average in area liquor stores. Right up front, we could all see what sort of mark-up was assigned to each wine. Immediately, I recalled the chagrin of seeing a wine in a restaurant at $35 when I knew local supermarkets were selling it at $10.99.

For example, my bottle of 2011 Renato Ratti Dolcetto cost $24; according to the menu listing, it was $18 at a package store. Very good value at both places.

Mark-up regarding wine is never easy and certainly is not an exact science. Standard practice is two-and-a-half times wholesale plus a “little bit.” More than that is somewhat excessive. Wine requires a lot of handling and special attention. Wine service should also require training, so a 100% mark-up is justifiable. Kudos to the pizzeria for transparency in its wine pricing.

By the way, I looked in vain for wine around various Cactus League ball parks. Just as well. The heat would have rendered them unappealing. Besides, beer goes better with red hots.

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