Why you should always choose the cheapest wine on a menu

By Imogen Blake

Restaurants know diners will often choose the second or third cheapest wine on the list - and place wines with a high mark up in these slots on purpose. Photo / 123RF
Restaurants know diners will often choose the second or third cheapest wine on the list - and place wines with a high mark up in these slots on purpose. Photo / 123RF

If you thought you had been outsmarting restaurants by plumping for the second or third cheapest wine on the list, then think again.

Contrary to popular belief, the wines one or two above the cheapest at a restaurant is no more likely to be of better quality or value than the lowest priced glass or bottle on the list, according to sommelier Mark Oldman.

He says restaurants know diners will often opt for one above the cheapest, and will place wines with higher mark-ups in these coveted slots, according to Daily Mail.

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His advice? Always choose the cheapest wine on the list, reports Business Insider.

"You are better served to order the cheapest wine, which diners often neglect out of fear or embarrassment and thus is often a better value," Oldman writes in his book How to Drink Like a Billionaire.

"Just make sure you do so at a restaurant that cares about its wine, where even modestly prices wines are of admirable quality."

And he has some devastating news for those who think they're outwitting restaurants by opting for the second or third cheapest instead.

"Knowing that it will sell swiftly, [the wine director] may have slotted an overstocked bottle into the position on the list. Even worse, he may have marked up this wine more than any other, making it potentially the worst value on the list."

Less surprising is Oldman's advice that wines by the glass are rarely better value than buying by the bottle.

In fact, he says that often buying one glass of wine will have already covered the cost of what the restaurant paid for the bottle wholesale.

But if you've bought a cheap wine that doesn't taste good, there is a way to instantly improve the taste.

Adding a few grains of salt can balance out uneven flavours, according to wine buff Nathan Myrhvold, a technology officer at Microsoft.

- Daily Mail

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