Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch : 2019-02-10

INDULGE : 20 : 20

INDULGE

indulge 20 rude drink ir sanghvi Liquor Prices: We Pay, They Profit The Gurugram boom shows us that if restaurants are not too greedy and government policies are flexible then it is possible to drink quality liquor at reasonable prices D FOR THE BIG GLASS When a restaurant buys a bottle of wine, the only added effort is the opening of the bottle o you drink liquor in restaurants? Some good wine, perhaps? Or do you have a couple of drinks at home before you set out for dinner? And when it comes to wine, do you lower your standards and drink plonk when you are out because the good stuff costs so much on restaurant wine lists? I suspect that like the rest of us, you find booze much too expensive at restaurants. One reason for the popularity of clubs is that they allow members to drink alcohol at reasonable prices. To be fair, this is not a peculiarly Indian problem. All over the world, restaurants treat wine as a profit centre and impose huge mark-ups. In Las Vegas, for instance, many of the top restaurants simply multiply the cost price of a bottle of wine three times. Their explanation is that most restaurants operate on a 33 per cent food cost, which is to say that if all the ingredients in a dish cost say 10, then it will go on the menu at 30. The extra 20 will go on salaries, rent, air-conditioning, the decor, the crockery, marketing and profit. Why, say restaurants, should wine be any different? There is a simple answer to that. If you are making say, a hamburger, you will buy minced meat, onions, bread, condiments, seasoning etc. potatoes (for the fries that go with the burger) separately and will look to a chef to turn them into a finished dish. When a restaurant buys a bottle of wine, the only additional effort required will be the ceremonial opening of the bottle. Most hotels and restaurants in India sell the same wines, and yet the mark-ups can be phenomenal All you need are a corkscrew and glasses. There is simply no comparison with the cost of cooking a meal from raw ingredients. So why do people drink overpriced liquor in restaurants? Well, because, in the West at least, wine is part of the meal experience. And Michelin-starred restaurants now pride themselves on sourcing wines that are not easily available to the general public. These can be wines with very small productions or those that are only supplied to a few top wine shops and restaurants on a quota (“allocation”) basis. At Gaggan, Asia’s best restaurant, the head sommelier Vladimir Kojic has around 60 champagnes on his list. Nearly all of them are labels that most of us have never heard of, small growers’ champagnes of very high quality that are hard to come by. Ask for a bottle of Mumm or Moët and you will be rewarded with a frown. In India, this can never happen. Most hotels and restaurants buy their wines from a handful of importers, all of whom sell the same wines to everybody. There are no special, hard-to-find wines, just the usual stuff. And yet, the mark-ups can be phenomenal. A decade ago, I did a piece comparing the wine lists of Delhi’s top hotels. The same wine from the same importer was sold at different prices by each hotel. If I remember correctly, at some restaurants, the same wine was 40 per cent cheaper than at others. PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER PressReader.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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