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Delhi Wine Club
Blog: Poor Value Pour by the Glass at Oberoi

Posted: Thursday, 22 September 2011 11:09

Blog: Poor Value Pour by the Glass at Oberoi

Sep 22: Despite rather high prices charged by the 5-star hotels, they are generally fair to the consumers when selling by the glass, with the standard pour of 150 mL being charged a fifth of the bottle price, encouraging the customer to try a glass. But there are odd ones like the Oberoi and Leela Gurgaon charging one fourth of the bottle price, offering frivolous reasons, writes Subhash Arora who would like to see the standard pour reduced to 125 mL and charged accordingly.

The de facto size of a glass in India has shifted to 150 mL from 125 mL as was the practice several years ago when most restaurants used to charge for 150 mL and pour only 125 mL because of lack of transparency on the Wine Lists and lack of storage equipment like Enometic machine, resulting in some wastage. Almost every restaurant now mentions the quantity poured per glass at the bottom of the list which is quite fair to the customer and the host of the evening.

Not at OberoiD-or LeelaG 

But at Hotel Oberoi, they give you 150 ml (5 glasses to a bottle) but make you pay 25% more- for187 mL, at 4 glasses to a bottle. The reason given to me at the Oberoi Delhi was that every time a customer asked for a glass of wine, they served him 30 mL free to try out and see if the wine was ok. 30 mL?! Please!! I have never been offered wine to taste whenever I ordered by the glass anywhere unless I asked for a taste if the bottle was already open. Most people are too intimidated to even dream of asking for a taste. 30 mL! That is equivalent to a small glass (peg) of liquor- which the restaurant claims to give free to every customer at the table. (Imagine two people ordering a glass each of the same wine and being offered a tasting portion of 30 mL).

Some restaurants do give a slight benefit for ordering a bottle. Says Arindam Chakraborty, F & B Director at the Claridges says, ‘We work backwards from the price by the glass. If our costing allows us to charge Rs.500 a glass of 150 mL, we would price the bottle at around 15% discount’ Thus, the bottle may be priced at around Rs.2150-2200.’

Make 125 mL a standard pour

Personally, I am a staunch supporter of 125 mL pour in India and charging at a sixth of the bottle price. With wines being so expensive, the lower price might motivate a customer to try a  glass. A wine connoisseur would also have an opportunity to taste 2-3 different wines if he so chooses. I do not buy the argument advanced sometimes that the novices feel cheated looking at ‘such a small portion’ in a big stemware. A good sommelier should always explain politely-if needed check out the measure (petrol pumps are obliged to do it and the petrol is so much cheaper than wine!). This is part of wine education, I believe. When I suspect the discrepancy, I tell them to bring the wine in a small glass and get me a bigger glass separately to pour the wine for drinking. There is no shame in doing so-unfortunately, there are restaurants where the bartender or sommelier may try to cheat a little- it happens in other countries as well.

A Few Comparisons

Here are a few of the prices in various restaurants/hotels picked up at random during my visit to them. The only criterion was that if I saw the list, I have published here, even though Leela Gurgaon was an unexpected shock.

1. The Oberoi Delhi (Taxes incld.)

Wine Price/Bottle Qty/glass Price/glass
Gavi di Gavi Marchesi Barolo 5800 150 mL  1450
Diamond Series Francis Coppola  ’09 4900 150 mL 1225
Roero Arneis (?)               4800 150 mL       1200

Prices by the glass are uniformly higher by 25% than what it would be the equivalent


2. Hotel Leela Gurgaon (Taxes extra)

Sancerre Blanc Les Baroness 875 150mL   3500
Tarapaca Cosicha 550 150mL 2200
Louis Roederer Brut 1400 150mL   6500
Quinta de Pancas Estremadura 750* <STAY AWAY> 150mL 2500

Generally worse than Oberoi Delhi. * daylight (also nightlight robbery!). Why would anyone ever order a glass of Quinta de Pancas, I failed to se the logic


3. Set’z (Zest)-DLF Emporio

Tiamo  Prosecco 2500 150 mL  500
Est! Est! Est! Falesco       3500 150 mL  700
Banfi Le rime 2009   3250 150 mL  650
San Medin 2009 2750 150 mL  550
Gaja Promis 5750 150 mL  1150

4. Hyatt Regency

St. Claire M’borough Sauv Blanc ’10 4450 185mL 1125
Casillero Diablo Cab Sauv ‘10  2300 185mL 575
Bertani Valpolicella ‘09 3800 185mL 950

They serve 4 glasses to a bottle (heavy!) but charge equivalent


5. Hotel Park Delhi

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc  3400 150mL 680 
Tarapaca Chardonnay 1800 150mL 360
D’arenberg Shiraz 3100 150mL 620
Vila Maria Cabernet Merlot 2800 150mL 560

6. Hotel Shangri-la

Grüner-Veltliner Johann Donabaum ’08     3900 125mL 650
Torrontes, MTB, Mendoza ‘09 3900 125mL 650
Tenute Dell' Ornellaia 'Le Volte', ’09 3250 125mL 475
Brancaia 'Tre' Toscana 2008       4750 125mL 800

7. Hotel Lalit

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 5200 150mL 900
Taylor’s Promise Land Croucher Riesl.     2350 150mL 400
Torres Gran Corona 3200 150mL 500
Claar Cellar Sangiovese 3400 150mL 400

I don’t know what is cooking here. Prices-by-the-glass seem too attractive. The cellar-master
confirmed the pour but said they were promoting the concept of wine-by-the-glass concept.


8. Radisson MBD- Noida (+Ser. Tax 3.09%, Service charge5%)

Semillon ‘Elizabeth’ Mount Pleasant ‘04   3600 125/250mL 600/1200
Sauvignon Blanc Huia, Marlborough’08     4500 125/250mL 750/1500
Shiraz- Pinotage, Goats do Roam ‘08 3500 125/250mL 600/1200
Brunello di Montalcino Silvio Nardi ’04 9250 125/250mL 1550/3100

Is the policy of Oberoi is uniform across the board? I don’t know but I will have to say, ‘I don’t think so, judging from the prices at The Oberoi Gurgaon which has priced several of its wines very reasonably, passing on the excise benefits to the consumer, making it a good wine destination too. (Prices include all taxes)

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay                       7000 150 mL  1195
Dagromis Barolo Gaja 4500 150 mL  895 <BEST VALUE>
Pater Sangiovese Frescobaldi 3000 150 mL 595

I suggest next time you go to Oberoi Delhi request for a couple of samples of wines by the glass. Surely, 60 mL of complimentary wines will help their goodwill factor and will be quite healthy for you!  

Subhash Arora




Frank Wilden Says:

A most interesting article on wines-by the-glass and one which naturally mentions the issue of wastage and its cost to both the consumer and the venue. I noted your comments about the enomatic system which is an excellent product for those who require a preservation and dispensing solution. Our product winesave® - - uses the same anti-oxidant - argon -  and the results are not surprisingly, outstanding. We are now the system of choice in many of the world's best restaurants as our product does not require the purchase of proprietary hardware and/or installation. Instead we offer the convenience of a disposable recyclable can, which has been acclaimed by some of the wine world's most prominent people as a superb solution. We do have an importer in India Mohan Brothers. Kind regards. Frank Wilden, Vinotech Australia

Posted @ September 28, 2011 17:27


Chintamani Rao Says:

Thank you, Subhash. The restaurant trade in India -- especially in 5-star hotels, sadly -- does not help the growth of wine consumption, by charging preposterous prices in the first place.

Posted @ September 26, 2011 16:24


Sebastien Papin Says:

Such a true article. Keep up the good work. Best, Sebastien

Posted @ September 26, 2011 15:02


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