Wine events – the right price?


There is huge variation in the cost of tickets for wine events, and it can be quite a challenge for organisers to know how to price them, as we know from trying to decide how to price tickets for our forthcoming tenth anniversary champagne celebration. In the end we decided to price tickets at £40 for Purple pagers but to donate all profits to charity, split equally between the UK wine trade charity The Benevolent (since the UK champagne importers have been so wonderfully supportive of our event) and my pet charity Room to Read, which promotes literacy in the developing world.

While I was in the Maremma recently, I was told that a tasting of 38 vintages of Sassicaia was being organised in Rome and that tickets cost a mere 150 euros, which seemed very modest to me.

And how do you, as an organiser, price an event which includes irreplaceable wines? I haven't done the arithmetic but someone argued to me recently that the £1,000ish generously bid per participant for the Pebbles charity dinner I attended last month barely covered the cost of the wines.

Tomorrow Nick and I will attend the first New York Room to Read gala wine dinner in the New York Public Library, which also celebrates the 25th anniversary of Danny Meyer's famous Union Square Café. The wines are good but hardly rare and tickets, no longer available, were $1,000 a pop.

Tickets are still available, however, for our next London Room to Read gala wine dinner, also in association with the Financial Times, whose CEO John Ridding is a board member of the charity. On Wednesday 24 Nov we'll be at the Mandarin Oriental, widely acknowledged as London's best at banqueting, for a dinner that celebrates the coincidental tenth anniversary of Room to Read with a couple of 2000s provided by sponsors Berry Bros, the very different Ch Batailley from Pauillac and Château Musar from the Lebanon, a nod to Room to Read's Asian roots. Tickets are £400 each (including a substantial donation to Room to Read). More information or reservations via Anna McFarland on 020 7883 1958 or

But a dinner with mature first growths is a very different matter financially. I wonder, for instance, how any organiser prices a Ch Lafite dinner nowadays? And here is a Ch Latour dinner in London of the finest vintages straight from the château's own cellars and presented by the property's president Frédéric Engerer.

On Friday 12 Nov, Engerer and wine-loving owner Marlon Abela will be hosting a five-course dinner at Morton's private members' club on Berkeley Square at 7.30 pm. Plum vintages include 1982, 1970, 1966, 1964, 1961 and 1945. The menu has been carefully created with the wines' characteristics in mind by Morton's chef Justin Ip as follows:

Les Forts de Latour 2003, Ch Latour 2001 and 2000

Pan-fried foie gras, roast quince and grapes
Ch Latour 1996 and 1995

Risotto white truffle
Ch Latour 1982, Magnum of Les Forts de Latour 1970

Dover sole wild mushrooms
Magnums of Ch Latour 1966 and 1964

Rack of veal, black truffle
Ch Latour 1961 and 1945

Chocolate Rocher

The dinner is restricted to a maximum of 18 guests (so, two bottles of each vintage plus a spare in case, presumably) and tickets are – pause for drum roll – £1,900 apiece. You can book a ticket or find out more from Morton's  receptionon +44 (0)20 7499 3331 or by emailing

See also 10/10 dinner with wine for £47.50 – includes a £30 charitaable donation and surely a bargain.