Should I Buy The Second Cheapest Wine?

A little while ago we tweeted about a funny clip we had rediscovered on youtube by CollegeHumour, the ever popular Second Cheapest Wine. Maybe it’s an ironic look at the failure of the wine industry to properly engage the consumer, or maybe it’s just humour.

A few days ago however we saw this article in the Times that claimed that the second cheapest wine on the menu in a restaurant is probably the one with the best margin. After all, who would want to look like a cheapskate when ordering wine?

Perhaps this is true, or perhaps the wine with the most margin is the one that sells the best. Presumably if the restaurant mostly sells house red it would probably set the prices accordingly.

Ultimately, ordering wine at a restaurant is like buying wine at a supermarket: unless you’ve tried it then its a lottery.

Give yourself a fighting chance with the following tips.

Look for the breadth in the range

If there are five French wines and a solitary Argentinian wine, the chances are that whomever chose the wines knew more about the French wines. As such, if you pick from the bigger part of the list you are more likely to get something decent for the price.

Don’t buy by the glass

If you really want to enjoy your wine, consider that if you buy by the glass you have no idea how long the bottle it came from has been open. Reputable restaurants will have a sensible wine management policy, but if you buy by the glass you are in their hands.

Trade off the price of a glass versus the price of a bottle. We’re not suggesting you should drink more as a result, but at least with an unopened bottle the wine shouldn’t be off.

Also, if you can get over your Britishness, you could always explain to your waiter or waitress that you aren’t sure how much to order and ask if they would allow you to take home any unfinished wine.

If one glass is really all you want, get the house red in preference to the second cheapest.

Check the vintage

Most wines are meant to be enjoyed when they are young. Spare a thought for how the restaurant might be storing wine, and if you doubt it is doing so correctly, perhaps don’t order the older vintage and go for something a bit more recent.

Ask the staff

As you receive the wine list you can always ask the staff what they would recommend and take it into account – or not.

Stick with what you know

If sauvignon blanc is your thing then stick with that, at least it will be familiar. Otherwise, you could take a lucky dip and order the house wine.

Good luck!

If you have any buying tips then comment or get in touch.

Image take from Second Cheapest Wine on youtube.

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