“Karen, is it a good idea to order the second-cheapest wine on a restaurant’s wine list? I’ve heard that it’s a strategy for getting a good deal.” —Amy O. (Detroit, Michigan)
Amy, the answer is: sometimes. This strategy has been around for a long time and, indeed, the second-cheapest bottle on a big wine list is often a restaurant’s best-seller (no one wants to buy the lowest-priced wine). But there’s a problem with this: smart restaurant owners also know this strategy. So, they end up putting their highest-margin wines in the second-cheapest spot. I only order the second cheapest wine in restaurants that are very wine-focused. For sommeliers, it’s often a point of pride to find real “steals” that are delicious. Those steals are often the cheapest to the fifth-cheapest wines on the list.