This is actually one of the biggest issues in the wine business, in that markups are so high -- often three or four times the retail price -- that they dissuade customers from drinking wine.
It's also, to be fair to restaurants, not as simple as it looks. Yes, prices should be lower (and the Wine Curmudgeon has made this point many times), but some restaurants have legitimate reasons for what they do. I'll write more about this soon, but I did want to share something that I came across while researching restaurant wines lists (hey, someone has to do it).
In Dallas, a bottle of the basic Veuve Cliquot sells for about $42 retail. Check out the prices on these wine lists -- if anyone can explain it, please do:
• $95, at a trendy Mediterranean restaurant frequented by 20- and 30-somethings.
• $95, at a high-end New American that's popular with critics and people who eat at places the critics recommend.
• $95, at a new Italian restaurant that the food intelligentsia has been fawning over.