How much is too much for a glass of wine in a bar?

Wine isn’t lagging far behind cocktails with exorbitant prices these days, at least in some bars. (Photo: Image via

Why would you buy a cocktail in a trendy bar? The prices are exorbitant; they bear no relation to the cost of the ingredients. But wine isn’t lagging far behind these days, at least in some bars.

$12.69 a bottle, ex the wholesaler … and $13 a glass. Does that seem reasonable?Have a glass of Thorn-Clarke Sandpiper Riesling 2017 at the Golden Age Cinema bar, in Sydney’s Surry Hills, while you’re relaxing before the flicks, and you’ll pay a lazy AUD $13.

This wine is AUD $20 a bottle on the winery website ($17 members’ price); $15.99 at United Cellars, $14.99 from, $13.95 from Kemeny’s,

… and $13 a glass at the Golden Age Cinema bar. It looks like gouging.

The cost to the bar is $12.69 a bottle, ex the wholesaler, Mezzanine. If they take five glasses from the bottle, that’s a base cost of $2.54 per pour. Margin including operating costs and GST go on top of that.

Does that seem reasonable?

*Updated 21 April 2018: This is a revised version of an article that was posted on April 19. The original article should have used the word ‘mark-up’ instead of ‘profit’, as technically, profit is what remains after all costs, including GST, have been subtracted.

8 thoughts on “How much is too much for a glass of wine in a bar?”

  1. Tony Titheridge says:

    The hospitality industry is rampant with underpayment of wages. With operators barely squeaking out a living, or not. I’m sick of being told that wine or coffee are “high margin” items, when a considerable percentage of the costs of both are incurred by correctly paying staff.

    I agree that many on premise mark ups are horridly extravagant, but most are in a zone that barely provides the operator with a fighting chance of making a wage out of their venue. I keep getting told of typical prices in other parts of the world. But then my staff whom have worked in those parts tell of their past wages that are laughable. We either live ethically and morally above board, or we out ourselves as opportunists at anyone else’s expense.

  2. david says:

    if you only want to buy a single bottle of this wine from winestar it will cost you $34.99 including the delivery…

  3. Jonathon says:

    While I agree and am also frustrated on occasion by the pricing of wines by the glass, I will typically side with the retailer. The perspective I suggest is to not look at what the vendor is making, but what they stand to loose. My understanding of the model is to cover the cost in the first serve. As a perishable, you need to make sure that you are, in the least, not making a loss on serving the product in the first place. In relation to resources to serve, this is why you avoid corks and go for screwcap – a minute or more verses 2 seconds to open and serve, not to mention store and preserve afterwards.
    I often go to wine bars, sample pretty everything they have by the glass and, if so inclined, purchase a bottle elsewhere.
    In the end its a matter of choice and competition that will sort itself.

  4. The SEDIMENT blog says:

    Let’s face it, when you buy a drink in a bar – any bar – you’re not paying for just the drink. If you were, you would just drink it at home. You’re buying an experience.

    You’re paying for the location, for the view and for the decor, all of which may well be unique and expensive. You’re paying to share those with a group of like-minded, like-dressed people, to which you feel you want to belong. You’re paying to use expensive glasses, perhaps crockery, cutlery and napkins. You’re paying for the service, for someone to open, pour and serve you that drink, perhaps even chat to you for a while and make you feel welcome and happy. And you’re paying to rent that experience, with that single drink perhaps the only thing you will consume, the only money you will spend for an hour or more. (How much would all that entertainment for that long cost you in a theatre?)

    If all you want is a glass of wine – drink it at home.

    1. Angie says:


  5. Gen says:

    This article is ridiculous, there’s so many incorrect facts and you don’t even bother mentioning operational costs. For one mywineguy is selling it as a 6 pack…maybe check before claiming $8.99. Standard glass of wine in Australia is 150ml, so max you get 5 glasses if staff perfect pour. Most hospitality owners are lucky if they make 3% profit.

    1. Huon Hooke
      Huon Hooke says:

      Apologies about the case price: you’re probably right there, but that’s beside the point.
      Even if you work on five glasses per bottle, that’s $2.54. So, cost to the bar is about $2.80. So $10.20 of the $13 is profit. Still quite a lot.

      1. Bill says:

        When you consider that bar should be paying their staff at least $19.52 per hour for a full timer ($24.40 for a casual) and then add on costs at 25.6% it’s about $29 per hour. Minus GST on your $13 glass of wine which you conveniently left out.. that glass of wine only pays your staff member for less than 20 minutes work. If you want to be served by a person not a robot get over your fixation with wine prices in restaurants..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *