Wine Pricing in Columbus

Written by on July 8, 2011 in Wine - 1 Comment

Creative Commons Photo Credit: booleansplit

Wine pricing in Ohio can be a little confusing, whether you grab a bottle at a wine shop or order a bottle of the featured wine at the neighborhood restaurant. Long story short, Ohio still follows some of the guidelines created when Prohibition was repealed (yes, almost 80 years later), particularly the three-tier system. Restaurants, shops, bars, etc. can only sell what’s bought from a wholesaler, which buys from the importer or producer. With each tier, there’s a standard markup, and wine must be sold to the consumer at a state minimum price or higher.

With that in mind, most wine retailers sell wine at state minimum prices, putting small wine shops (which have become a dying breed) and big boxes like Costco at a level playing ground as far as pricing is concerned. Some wine businesses have a license that also allows you to drink the wine on-premise, which is when a corkage fee comes into play. A corkage fee is an additional charge to drink the wine in the space, with the revenue going toward the additional expenses involved (staff, rent, stemware, lights, etc.). I’ve had experience with people getting upset over the corkage fee, as they don’t realize that restaurants have a higher price on their menu with everything built into the price. Whether it’s a bottle of wine or pint of beer, you simply pay more at an establishment than you would at your own home.

When it comes to restaurants, most people pay more attention to the food, specifically the quality and price. Restaurant to restaurant, you typically see similar pricing for similar dishes (with quality varying), but wine prices can vary quite a bit. Yes, a bottle of wine can be $20 at one restaurant, but $40 at another, for the exact same wine.
Ironically, the larger restaurant chains, which have overhead expenses spread across multiple locations, will have more mundane wines with higher markups. At their headquarters, someone behind a desk chooses the wines and prices and must stick with wines with wider distribution and higher volume.

The beauty of visiting some of the better local restaurants in Columbus is that you not only get a wonderful meal, but you usually pay less for the better bottle of wine on your table. The chef, owner, or beverage director onsite chooses the wines on their list. We’re here to point you in the right direction for local restaurants with some very friendly pricing. A few restaurants simply take state minimum pricing and add a flat fee (so it’s like a corkage fee but they word it differently) or their markup might not be consistent but overall pretty low.

  • Alana’s, considered one of the top restaurants in Columbus, serves wine for only $5 over retail pricing and their offering is extensive and eclectic
  • Knead has a small but interesting lineup of wines with a minimal markup.
  • Basi Italia has most of their wine list about $10 over retail, with a beautiful setting on their patio for you to enjoy.
  • The Rossi is a favorite spot to grab a good meal, be seen, and drink boutiquey wines at a reasonable price.

There’s also a number of restaurants pick one night during the week when they might offering reduced pricing on their wine list or it is a part of their happy hour. This list includes The Worthington Inn, Barcelona, DeepWood, and Matt The Miller’s. Bu this is just a glimpse of what Columbus has to offer when it comes to wine.

Do you have any favorite spots with minimal wine markups?

This is a guest post by Donnie Austin. Donnie is owner and general manager of House Wine in downtown Worthington. He’s a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers and enjoys Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, IPA, gin, and American whiskey. Outside of wine, beer, and spirits, he enjoys throwing various foods on the grill, good music, and forming new bad habits.

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One Comment on "Wine Pricing in Columbus"

  1. Brian July 11, 2011 at 11:44 AM · Reply

    Thanks for the info. I’m new to Ohio and it’s amazing how much different laws and pricing differ from state to state. I’m anixious to support businesses offering interesting wine at reasonable pricing. The 3-tier system and minimum pricing, however, makes no sense to me. Wine is a legal product sold to adults. Distributors serve the purpose of providing mass quantities to the masses, but provide no value to purchases from smaller producers.

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