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June 8, 2010

Is Vino Rosina "affordable?"

vino rosinaGood morning everybody, and welcome to Tuesday.

All the way back on Friday (seems like a year ago, doesn't it?), my review of Vino Rosina appeared in the Live! section.

You remember Vino Rosina, right? It's the new wine bar in Harbor East, run by the same folks who opened the ritzy sandwich shops Rosina Gourmet.

I liked Vino Rosina. A lot. But my review had a couple readers wondering what, exactly, is an "affordable" bottle/glass of wine? ...

Most of the 200-odd bottles of wine fall in the $30-$50 price range. To me, that's affordable, given the surroundings. Being in Harbor East, you should expect all the prices to be a notch above other, less fancy neighborhoods, such as Pigtown (I had to pick on somebody, SoWeBoHemians).

$30, and even $40 for a bottle of wine at a fancy spot like Vino Rosina ain't bad. It might even be -- gasp -- affordable.

Now, maybe it's a stretch to call the glasses of wine "affordable." Most of the three-ounce pours hovered around $4, and most of the six-ounce pours were about $8. Midnight Sunner ryan97ou gave me some grief about this. As I said in the review, all of our three-ounce pours looked to be at least four- or five-ounces. To me, that's a deal.

What do you think?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:38 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


The 3 oz. pours at Vino Rosina are definitely a larger pour. You are basically paying 4-5 dollars for what would be almost a full glass of wine at most bars, which to me seems reasonable. The quality of the wine, food, infused cocktails, and atmosphere is very good. If the pours weren't so large, I might not keep going back, but paying 4-5 dollars for almost a fully glass of wine (and good wine) seems like a relatively good deal and is a nice treat after work or dinner.

Is anything in Harbor East affordable? Can't they at least put in 1 burger king or something?

You can't do much better than $4 and $8 four three-ounce and six-ounce pours at any of the wine bars I've been to, Harbor East or elsewhere. It's not affordable compared to a can of Natty Boh at a corner bar, but it certainly is when considered relative to its type of establishment and location. I think that's the meaningful distinction.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Here's part of the relevant question: The selection, exclusivity, and presentation. Are you getting what you pay for?

I know beer. And I know there's a tremendous difference between:
*a near-frozen can of Natty Boh or Pabst Blue Ribbon slapped on the bar;
*a big plastic cup of Bud Light at the ballpark;
*a pint (or "pint") of Guinness poured at the proper speed and temperature;
*a pint of Resurrection, Heavy Seas Winter Storm, Olivers ESB, etc.;
*a hand-pulled pint of cask-conditioned English, Belgian, or Scottish ale poured from a proper beer engine at the proper temperature.

And I expect to pay more for some of those than others. And I know I will be rewarded proportionally (well, save for the stadium beer).

Got a beef with that? Oh, okay, beef. You expect the same thing from a McDonald's burger, a Five Guys burger, a pit beef sandwich, a sliced ribeye steak sandwich, a prime rib sandwich, and a Kobe beef burger?

i was more legitimately asking if that's a good deal or not? i was assuming that an 8 oz. pour is a normal glass of wine, which i know normally more run between $5-7..but it sounds like that's not the it's good to hear, as i've heard good things about rosina, and wanted to stop by.

a better price comparison for me would be how the price of their beers compare to elsewhere. anyone know what their beer prices are?

Affordable /= Bargain

I'm sure that people that live in Harbor East can afford that, but for the rest of us, those prices seem be too high.

@Ryan97ou -- The draft beers range in price from $5.75 to $11.50 (for the Saison Dupont).

@Paulette -- I think those bottle prices are about what you'd pay at, say, V-NO in Fells Point or 13.5% Wine Bar in Hampden. The glasses might be a buck or two more expensive, but not much.

sam - those beer prices seem about right for harbor east, and a nice looking place like rosina.

after looking at cinghiale's wine list, vina rosina looks to be more "affordable". comparison: for 6 oz. pours they have 10 that are priced for $8 or less, and 39 that are more than $8

those prices sounds extremely reasonable to me. most wine pours are less than 8 oz. but cost more than $8. glad to hear that the 3 oz. pours are generous, but i'm more interested to know how the staff treats the pours. if i'm at the bar at helen's garden, i expect to pay around $10/glass, but that glass comes with a generous pour, a lively discussion about the wine and pairings and chances are, they've already given me a generous taste of the wine before i even ordered the glass or the bottle. for that, i'd much rather pay $10/glass than a more "affordable" pour.

sam -- do you know if vino rosina charges a corkage fee for their bottles like v-no does?

drrr, got thinking more about drinking wine than typing. i meant to say $10/glass for the specialty wine, not the standard wine by the glass that they usually feature.

if you're in a bar that's not surrounded by flat screens and you're looking over a menu that doesn't feature wings and mozzeralla sticks, you should expect craft beer and good wine at prices above a miller lite special.

First off, in case it's not apparent, we're talking about two different things here, even though the author has the lumped the two items together.

Affordability refers to a customer's ability to pay for something, regardless of whether or not it's a good deal. For instance, a restaurant price of $100 for a bottle of Caymus cabernet may represent a good deal (considering what this wine retails for), but that doesn't make it affordable to the average restaurant patron. Viewed solely in that light, I think the wine by the glass prices at Vino Rosina would certainly be viewed as affordable by most customers.

On the other hand, when most folks talk about the affordability of wine prices in a restaurant, they're typically also looking at and including "value" in the equation. For instance, those "into" wine typically feel that $8 for a 6 ounce glass of wine is a decent price for a bottle selling in the $35 range (keep in mind that there are roughly 4 glasses of wine per bottle when a restaurant is giving out 6 ounce pours).

Then there is the matter of a restaurant's mark-up. Typically, restaurants mark up a wine 2 and half to 3 times over normal retail prices. So that's another factor in determining whether a wine is "affordable" in a restaurant. For instance, let's say a restaurant has a bottle of wine on the menu that they're selling for $40, but is a wine that can be found for $12 at most retail stores in town. That's more then a 3 times over retail restaurant mark-up. So even though the by-the-glass price maybe only $10 for this wine, that's still a lot of profit built into the price of that glass of wine. It's hardly what most people would call a good deal. On the other hand, if a restaurant is selling a wine for $40, but the wine typically retails for $20 in the local market, personally, I'm going to be a lot less upset if I see that wine going for $11 by-the-glass. In my mind, the second wine represents a much better deal, even if ultimately it's more expensive.

So then, are the wine prices at Vino Rosina affordable? That's a completely subjective call, but as the author noted, given the location of the restaurant, it probably would be considered so by most customers in that area.

On the other hand, do the wine prices at Vino Rosina represent a good deal? That I don't know, because Mr. Sessa has not provided us with enough information to make that call. Without knowing what wines VR has available, and/or what the normal retail price is for those wines, it's impossible to tell whether one is getting value when one buys wine by the glass or the bottle.

On the other hand, do the wine prices at Vino Rosina represent a good deal? That I don't know, because Mr. Sessa has not provided us with enough information to make that call.

@Johnthebodiless -- I tried three wines, and listed the price for each. You be the judge:

We stuck to three-ounce pours, which, to our untrained eyes, looked more like four- or five-ounce pours. Amie started with a The Chook, an Australian sparkling shiraz ($5 for a three-ounce pour) served in a champagne glass. As odd as it sounds, The Chook was exactly how you'd imagine a sparkling shiraz: Bubbly, light and refreshing but also dry and full-bodied.

The Sol Malbec available by glass, the Argentinian Urban Uco ($3.50 for three ounces), was like the best malbecs, big and bold. And the Las Rocas, a Spanish Garnacha ($3.5 for three ounces) was a spicy sipper.

"@Johnthebodiless -- I tried three wines, and listed the price for each. You be the judge"

You did in your review of the restaurant, but not in this article. As I was responding to your post in this particular article...

In any event, I was just trying to illustrate a point, that without more information, the price alone of a glass of wine really doesn't give you much idea regarding whether or not you're getting a good deal.... or even a half way decent deal.

However, retail prices on the three wines you tried are:

Chook: $15 to $18 range
Urban Uco: $12 to $13
Las Rocas: $12 to $14

So I would guess that the latter two wines were in the $30 range, with the Chook a bit more more then that ($35 to $40?), which would not represent an exhorbitant restuarant mark-up. Assuming that's the case, then I'd say the pricing on the three wines you sampled was very fair indeed (have had several vintages of the Las Rocas by the way, and in my opinion it has be one of the better reds for the money on the planet right now).

Buying wine is always a losing proposition. I don't think $30 is terribly high, but I also don't think a glass of mediocre wine should cost as much or more than a glass of good Scotch, which is the case in a lot of places.

I once drank Mad Dog on a stoop in Philadelphia and wound up misplacing my shirt. I found the cork fee a bit steep.

i have been drinking wine for many many years, here, abroad, South America... the prices at Vino are exactly "reasonable" compared to comparable pours available in surrounding venues. However, if you really want to educate yourselves, listen to the spots on NPR, or research other sources and you will be able to find surprisingly great wines in the $10 range. That's great if you're drinking at home or with a dinner or apps you have prepared...
When i go out to drink wine, etc. i am out to have a great sociable time, not look for the (cost) j same prices i could buy a bottle of wine for at a store and drink at home.

When i go out to drink wine, etc. i am out to have a great sociable time, not look for the (cost)


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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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