Five Tips For Ordering Wine When You Dine Out

We’ve all had that dinner where you go out with someone who is truly a wine snob.  Or so they think so.   There are few movie scenes better than watching Paul Giamatti in the movie Sideways as he sits alone in a fast food restaurant drinking his prized 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc from a disposable coffee cup while he aggressively cuts away at his steak.   Going out to a fancy restaurant can be very intimidating when they wine list is present to you on your lap.   However, you shouldn’t get overly nervous because here are five smart money moves for ordering wine when you dine out.

  1. Avoid Ordering By The Glass– Restaurant owners generally try to make back the cost of a bottle of wine from the price of just one glass.  What sucks for you as well is that it’s likely the wine was opened already possibly even from the day before.   The bottom line is that you’ll get a better deal by doing at least a half bottle of wine or in some cases a full bottle if you are remotely thinking about having a second glass.  Also, don’t let them fill your glass- do it yourself.
  2. Don’t Buy The Second Cheapest Bottle On The Menu– Remember all of the tips I’ve been giving you over the years about marketers.  The restaurants know you don’t want to be the cheapest person on the block.  They intentionally have wines with huge margins that are priced in the 2nd or 3rd lowest amount on the list for that very purpose.   Look, restaurants aren’t going to put a lousy bottle of wine on the menu so don’t feel bad if you pick the lowest priced on the list.  It’s your money.
  3. Watch The ‘Chardonnay’ Tax- Chardonnay is generally the most popular white wine so the mark ups tend to much higher on this type of white wine compared to others.  Don’t be afraid to try a Riesling or a Pinot Grigio instead where you can get a better value and save a few bucks.  I have also found some general white table wines can be very good and even lower cost than brand name type wines.
  4. Go For A Younger Vintage- Just because the year of the wine is older doesn’t necessarily mean it is better.  If you talk to real experts in the wine business, they will tell you that there are peak years that wine should be consumed by or it will continually go downhill.   Do not be embarrassed at all for picking a more recent year of wine thinking it will be worse.
  5. Don’t Forget Simple House Wines– More and more restaurants are offering carafes of a house wine on the menus.  These deals can be a good deal less expensive than the general wine list and will often offer some excellent choices.   If there is a house wine on the menu, there is a reason the owners put it on the list.  Remember, they want repeat business so you might give this a whirl at your next meal.

Odds are that 95 out of 100 people you dine with will no absolutely nothing about wine beyond a name or two that they heard at a party or read in a recent magazine.   The most important point of any meal is that you enjoy yourself.   It’s not often over the years that someone reminds of the wine they drank with dinner from a meal we had years ago.   They will remember the food and the appetizers so don’t get too caught up thinking you have to impress and just order what comes naturally and what makes sense for your family budget.

Written by:
Ted Jenkin

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About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.


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