Regarding your article on jug wines, published Jan. 11, I take issue with your statement that restaurateurs buy their house wines by price only.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is not even one French, Spanish or Italian full-service restaurateur who chooses his wine by price alone. If this were so, then the least expensive wines would be the largest selling house wines, but the opposite is true. Very few restaurateurs use the cheapest priced house wines, and these few establishments buy everything cheap, and hence, are of relatively low repute.
You also mention that restaurateurs will change their brands often and without hesitation. A quick survey of Washington's restaurants will easily refute this. The Le Bagatelle, Chaumiere, Napoleon's, Foundry, Bread Oven, Harvey's, Jean Pierre, Jour et Nuit, Prime Rib, Lion D'Or, Pier Seven, Serbian Crown and Cafe Sorbet, to mention a few, are all using far from the least expensive house brands, and have been doing so far well over a year.
At the wholesale level wer are constantly involved in comparative tastings with restaurants, and most simply do not switch for price. Most simply do not switch for price. Most consider the selection of their house wines as a major deciseion which they base upon quality, value and customer recognition.