Why You Should Second-Guess The Cheap Wine Option At Restaurants

We at Mashed understand the value of paying top price for a good meal. We also understand that everyone's inner cheapskate comes out every now and then to try and get you to pick the cheapest options off the menu. It's quite the paradox: Sometimes you don't want to spend a whole lot of money, but at the same time you don't want to seem like some kind of joyless miser. A classic example of this is when you're ordering wine at a restaurant. 

There are plenty of things to consider while ordering wine at any sort of restaurant, be it your neighborhood Olive Garden or a ritzy bar. But you may find yourself more worried about the price first and foremost. You'll probably consider getting the cheapest wine, but again, you don't want to seem like you're being some kind of penny-pincher or cultureless philistine. Perhaps you decide to order the second-cheapest bottle of wine: This way, you can still enjoy an "expensive" wine without spending too much money.

But, according to VinePair, getting the second-cheapest bottle of wine may not be saving you money at all. Not only are you not fooling anyone by trying to look cultured, but you could spend your money in a better way. That relatively "cheap" second bottle is actually priced far higher than what it's actually worth.

Avoid getting cheated by a 'cheap deal'

As Life Hacker elaborates, restaurants know their clientele. They know that you don't want to look like a cheapskate in front of your friends and family, but you can't bring yourself to drop a lot of money on just a bottle of wine. By taking a bottle of cheap wine and marking the price up a bit — just enough that it's higher than the cheapest bottle but far lower than the most expensive bottle — restaurants are able to get you to pay more for something that they marked 200-300% over the normal retail price (according to Sommelier Business).

But how can you avoid getting overcharged to begin with? There are actually a few things you can do to stay one step ahead of all those upselling waiters and waitresses. StreetDirectory suggests that you keep the average price of wine in mind, so you'll be able to avoid spending too much or too little. The Kitchn also suggests that you skip ordering glasses to avoid the price markup of by-the-glass servings and instead order a bottle or a half-bottle in case you want only a few glasses.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to always stay calm and relaxed when ordering. Don't let anyone try to upsell you on anything you don't want. Find a price range you're comfortable with and stick to it.