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Restaurants are raising wine prices, report says

Restaurants are raising wine prices, report says
Wine prices are rising amid increased demand and squeezed supply. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

We'd been warned. A looming shortage of wine grapes caused grape prices to jump last year, and wine prices were sure to follow. Now a new report shows that prices for wines by the glass at restaurants have steadily increased during the past six months as wine inventories shrink.

Wine drinkers who saw a buyer's market during the recession will have to get used to higher prices as the shortage continues and demand expands.

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The Los Angeles Times' Tiffany Hsu reports that wine prices rose most significantly at either end of the dining spectrum. At white-tablecloth restaurants, wine prices climbed 5.4%, according to Restaurant Sciences, a firm that tracks food and beverage product sales. And at family-dining establishments, where the average meal costs $38.50 or less, prices surged 8.4%.

But at casual and upscale-casual restaurants, where average bills are $38.50 to $122.50, wine prices have risen less than 2%.

Wine served in glasses, bottles or carafes brought $289 million in annual sales at restaurants, according to the report, which covers more than 5,000 restaurants excluding nightclubs, hotel restaurants, fast-food outlets and concession stands.

But there are still some places where you can get great values. Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold recommends three in particular: "Philippe, which has some unusually posh things by the glass; Terroni, where all the wines are priced the same, so that you can order by taste instead of cost; and Upstairs 2, above, and owned by, Wine House."

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