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“Dear Karen: What do you think about the strategy of ordering the second-cheapest wine on a restaurant’s wine list?” —Michael Z. (Boston, Massachusetts)

Hi Mike, this strategy has been around for a long time, and indeed, the second-cheapest bottle on a wine list is often one of the restaurant’s best sellers (no one wants to buy the lowest-priced wine). The problem is, smart restaurants know this too. So, they sometimes put a high-margin wine in the second- cheapest spot. I only order the second-cheapest wine in restaurants that are very wine-focused, places where the sommelier is often the owner. For sommeliers, it’s often a point of pride to find real “steals” that are delicious. The steals are often the cheapest to the fifth-cheapest wines on the list.

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