It's a confusing economic world that we live in right now. I admire the spunky restaurateurs in the up-and-coming Mission area of San Francisco, and appreciated the bravado of the "Stimulus Dinner" sandwich-board sign at the corner of 22nd and Guerrero. This French restaurant offered a delicious 3-course meal for $29. What they didn't offer was a Stimulus Wine-by-the-Glass list. The least expensive offering, their house Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, was $8. It was almost enough to make you order tap water as the beverage of choice.
I don't really understand wine-by-the-glass pricing, so I'd like some commentary here. I've heard folks say that a glass of wine should be priced so that it pays for the cost of the whole bottle. If I've heard that, you can bet that other wine drinkers and Joe/Jane-average-consumer have heard it too. It doesn't exactly make you feel warm and fuzzy at the thought; in fact, it kind of feels like price gouging.
On-premise sales are suffering as belt-tightening keeps more consumers dining at their own tables. A chat with LJ Brimfield at Piazza Market in North Beach on Sunday afternoon confirms that; their sales of value-price Italian wines are 'way up, and he attributes that to the dine-at-home movement; he gets asked a lot what wines will go with the "I'm preparing a chicken dish" course.
So if restaurateurs want to offer a Stimulus-Pricing glass of wine, just how do they price that? Is it 25% of a 3-course meal? Seems high to me. That glass of tap water just might be a serious contender for a value beverage...