Do You Order the Second-Cheapest Wine? - Gastro Obscura
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Do You Order the Second-Cheapest Wine?

Help us investigate a popular ordering strategy.

What’s both a punch line and a wine-ordering strategy? The second-cheapest wine.

If you enjoy wine but don’t know too much about vintages and varieties, you may have fallen into the following logic: You’re not sure whether you want wine with “hints of cherry”; you don’t know whether 2015 was a good year for Argentinian wine; and you think Pinot Noir is the type of wine you like, but you don’t quite remember. Honestly, apart from red vs. white and sparkling vs. not, you don’t think wines taste terribly different. So why not just order the cheapest wine? Or, if that feels a little cheap and too obvious, how about the second-cheapest one?

People often joke about ordering wine this way, usually while making self-deprecating jokes about knowing nothing about wine. But is ordering the second-cheapest wine just a joke? Or is everyone ordering it all the time? Do restaurant managers and bartenders all know this, and think carefully about which wine should be the second cheapest on the menu?

We’ve been investigating these questions, and we want to hear from you. How do you pick wine? Is it ever by choosing the second-cheapest bottle? Would learning that everyone else orders the second-cheapest option change your strategy? Has your approach changed as you learned more about wine? If you work in wine or at a restaurant, is this an ordering strategy you think about?

Let us know by filling out the below form. We’ll publish what we learn—including some of our favorite stories that you send in—in a future article. This is going to be fun.

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