Wine & Dine: What To Know Before Your Next Dinner Date

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Here's why ordering the second-cheapest wine is not your best bet.

When you take someone out on a first or second or third date, you want to be impressive. At dinner you want to pronounce the fancy dishes correctly, and you surely want to order a bottle of wine that isn't the cheapest on the menu — although you're probably not going to get the most expensive one either. Well apparently, one in four diners (at least in the U.K.) usually goes for the second-cheapest wine on the menu, which seems like a logical choice. Then they pat themselves on the back for being economically responsible, but not tightwads.

Well, restaurateurs are not a dumb crowd. They know how people think, so oftentimes they take the cheapest bottle they bought at wholesale and mark it up as the second-cheapest on the menu. What does that really mean? You just paid way more for poorer quality. Yep, you've been duped. You should've just ordered the cheapest wine.

 

Conducting further investigation, The Wall Street Journal found that when it comes to pricing, many restaurants employ what's called "progressive markup." This means that a cheap bottle could be priced three to four times wholesale, while an expensive wine may be marked up only 1.5 times. Basically, it makes more sense to aim higher up on the price list when you dine out. And forget about wine by the glass — that's just absurdly overpriced, with the price of that one glass usually covering the cost the restaurant paid for the entire bottle.

If any of this is making you think that maybe you should stick to beer and liquor, stop right there. More often than not, both liquor and beer carry a grandiose 500-percent markup. Say that out loud right now: 500 percent.

So what's a boozy dater to do? Well, you could pretend you're 21 and pregame before dinner, or you could do something even more creative like staying in and cooking dinner. But sometimes you still gotta spend the big bucks to impress your date! 

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