Coppell isn’t a large city by Texas standards, but it is unique in that six of the eight primary sit-down restaurants in the town are independent, non-chain establishments. I like that about our city.
As a wine blogger, I thought it would be interesting to take a week-long look at the wine offerings at each of six local restaurants (excluding the Mexican restaurants) and compare them on quality, cost, markup and overall value. This first post is an overview of all six. Following in the next six days will be a more detailed analysis of each restaurant. The six restaurants included in this series are: Black Walnut Cafe, Carmel Restaurant Lounge, J. Macklin’s Grill, Sfizio, Simmer and Victor’s Wood Grill (recently renamed from Daddy Jack’s). The primary purpose of this review is to provide an education to local consumers in order to hopefully make their wine choices and restaurant visits more satisfying and keep Coppell and surrounding community residents dining in these wonderful and unique Coppell locations.
Most restaurants that I dine in all across the country put so much energy into the concepts, experience and menus, but then pair that ambiance and food experience with wine lists full of bottles that can found at the local grocery story, marked up by more than 100%. I find it a little disappointing when proprietors focus their wines on a program designed only to maximize margin instead of using the wine list as an opportunity for education and discovery that accentuates the dining experience and provides market differentiation. Based on the analysis of all six wine lists, the Coppell restaurants tend to follow the rule and are not the exception. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t plenty of good options and values available to local diners. There are.
The average rating across all bottles on all wine lists in the six restaurants is just over 86 (as calculated by averaging the past three years scores from cellartracker and wine searcher, when available). The average rating across all bottles that are served by the glass is a bit lower at just over 85. Typically, wines rated 80 – 84 are classified as “Good” while wines in the 85 – 89 range classified as “Very Good.” That puts the average rating of all bottles on all wine lists right on the border of good to very good in quality. However, the wines at these restaurants tend to gravitate to the center of the 80-point range and are limited in top-end quality. No bottle on any list rated above a 91 and only 13% of all bottles received a rating of 90 or above, a score signifying “Outstanding” quality.
Price, Markup and Value:
The average price for a bottle of wine across all bottles at all six restaurants in $39.33. The average cost of those same bottles if you were to purchase them at retail is $18.07. That means that, on average, you could buy 2.2 bottles at a retail location for the price you pay for the one bottle at the restaurant. Keep in mind that the retail price is what a consumer would pay for the wine at a retail location and not what the restaurant pays for the bottle of wine, which is lower than the retail price. Because of the complexity of wholesale pricing with the three-tiered system and volume discounts that some receive and others don’t, comparing to retail price is the fairest way to evaluate across the restaurants based on a consistent factor. How does this compare to restaurants across the country? It’s actually right in line with traditional standards. It is important to note, though, that just because the average markup is in line with national averages, when looking at the individual bottles available and prices at the Coppell restaurants, there some that carry a much larger markup and some that are an extreme value. We’ll call those out in the individual restaurant details.
Over the next six days, we will be looking in more detail at the wines, prices, markups and values available at each restaurant. When doing the analysis, there were a few juicy tidbits that jumped off the spreadsheet and warrant special note.
- When a Glass Costs More Than The Bottle: Black Walnut offers three different varietals of La Terre: Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay. At $6.50 a glass, the price a diner pays for one glass of La Terre is more than she would spend to buy an entire bottle of that wine at a retail location.
- Quantum vs. Cinq Cepages: Carmel offers by the bottle both Berringer Quantum and Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages. Both are highly rated 91 point wines and both can be purchased from Total Wine for around $55 to $60. The difference? Carmel charges $65 for the Quantum red bland (one of the best values on any Coppell list) but charges $130 for the Cinq Cepages. A great example as to why a little table-side smartphone research can go a long way.
- The Same Wines at Multiple Locations: Across the 134 bottles available in the six restaurants (sparkling wines were not included), ten wines were available in at least two of the restaurants, with two wines served at four of the them. The two wines that are available at four of the six restaurants are the Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio ($38 a bottle at Simmer, $41 at Black Walnut and $49 at each Victor’s and Carmel) and the Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay ($22 at Simmer, $29 at Black Walnut, $32 at Victor’s and $36 at J. Macklin’s).
- Quality to Price Ratio: The three wines that provide the highest quality at the lowest bottle price are all Rieslings: Chateau St. Michelle Riesling at Simmer, Kung Fu Girl Riesling at Sfizio and Hogue Riesling at both Black Walnut and Simmer.
- Best Value Wines: The four wines that provide the greatest value (highest ratings given the lowest markups from retail price) are split evenly between reds and whites: Beringer Quantum Red Blend at Carmel, The Prisoner Red Blend at Black Walnut, Far Niente Chardonnay at Sfizio, and Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay at Victor’s.
- By the Glass/By the Bottle: The average ratings and average price of bottles that are also sold by the glass are lower than the average rating and price of bottles that are sold only by the bottle. It is also true that the average markup of bottles that are also sold by the glass is higher than the markup on those sold only as bottles. So, on average, the better values were consistently those bottle not also sold by the glass. In addition, when you multiply the cost of a glass of wine by 5 (the number of glasses in a bottle) and figure the markup on the whole bottle based on the cost of a glass, the markup above average retail price skyrockets from around 120% for a bottle to about 285% for a bottle when bought by the glass. Those two facts put together mean that if there are two or more of you and you can agree on the same wine, you are much better off buying the bottle and taking any remaining wine home with you than buying by the glass.
As a final important note, regardless of what is written in these reviews, if there is a wine you get regularly at one of these restaurants and you like the wine and the price, keep getting it! Individual tastes vary, and only you know best what you like.
If you have any comments or questions on any of the posts in this Coppell restaurant series, please feel free to leave a comment to these posts or hit me up on Twitter at @erikj. Also, if you have other area restaurants that you would like to see evaluated for wine offerings, please let me know! Links to all posts in this series appear below.
Six Coppell Wine Lists in Seven Days: