The Second-Cheapest Bottle Of Wine Has The Highest Mark-Up & Other Restaurant ‘Secrets’

Many of us have been there, especially in our early to mid-20s, on a date and being asked to pick a wine. You don’t want to look cheap, so you rule out the least expensive bottle on the list and opt to spend a few dollars more to seem like a dollar-sensitive sophisticate. Restaurant owners are apparently on to our completely predictable ways, and that’s why you probably just paid a lot more for that wine than it’s worth.

At least according to UrbanSpoon, which includes this factoid on its recent roundup of “10 Things Restaurants Aren’t Telling You.”

So according to the story, the restaurant probably paid less for that bottle you paid $17 for than it did for the $14 bottle you avoided buying in order to avoid the stink of looking cheap. Making it slightly more expensive gives it the illusion of being a better wine, selling more — but at a still-reasonable price — and making more profit.

Some other gems from the UrbanSpoon list:

• Wait times are made up: No, your host/hostess probably does not have an amazing gift for sussing out exactly how long it will take for a table to open up. That “about 40 minutes” figure you were given, was probably plucked out of thin air.

• Upscale restaurants have fancy menu designs for a reason: You local diner or chain restaurant usually has prices all in one column off to the side, allowing you to see that the chicken dish is $5 cheaper than the steak. Meanwhile, fancier restaurants often take a different approach to menu design, putting the prices under the item’s description, or dropping the “$” from the number. It’s not just about creating a pretty menu card; it’s about getting you to not comparison-shop for the cheapest dish.

• The less busy we are, the worse your service will be: Anyone who has walked into an empty eatery and been completely ignored understands this one. “Employees take advantage of a slow restaurant by getting their side work done early and playing around with coworkers,” writes UrbanSpoon. “They’re not on a fast-paced routine like they are on a busy night, so they forget to check in on the tables they do have as often.”

You can read the whole list at

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