Shopping around a wine list at a restaurant can be even more obscure and intimidating than the wine section at the grocery store. Long lists clogged with names you cannot pronounce from places that generally mean nothing to you. Not to say that a glass of Prosecco shouldn't derive from Italy or port from Portugal.
It's just likely that any label you drink on the regular outside of the dining scene will probably cease to exist on any restaurant's extensive, or less-than-impressive, wine list. What's a wino gotta do to enjoy their precious nectar without breaking the bank on a per-glass basis?
Why Is Wine So Expensive When Dining Out?
First, it's important to understand the 'why' behind the noticeable markup of wine at restaurants. It's common to see a glass of wine cost the same as a bottle of the same stuff at the store.
According to Wine Flair, the markup on wine in restaurants is about 300 percent per bottle, and even more per glass. Why? Simple: The restaurant makes a killing off of wine sales alone, and people (like self-proclaimed winos) will always pay.
Know Your Numbers
Most restaurants have their wine lists available to you, price and all, via their websites. It's a good idea to check these lists out ahead of time firstly to know what you're getting into and secondly, to calculate on your own time what's the best value at that particular joint. Remember, not every restaurant has the same pricing scales, and not every branch of the same chain will have the same prices. Location is generally the driving value of price-point.
By doing this, you'll be able to prepare yourself from a check-induced heart attack all thanks to those five glasses of wine you thoroughly enjoyed up until now. You'll also be able to decide if buying per glass or per bottle is a better bang for your buck ahead of time - you know, before you get bullied into something ridiculous by those clever waiters.
In the same arena of thought, be weary of the commonly seen 'house wine' on a wine list. Yes, it's probably the cheapest glass and/or bottle on the menu, but there's generally a reason; lacking of quality. Also, the house wines tend to have the highest markup because it is so cheap for a restaurant to buy.
Be better to yourself and don't settle for this hoax of a wine. Okay, house wines aren't that bad, but don't give the restaurant more money and satisfaction for the lesser of quality and taste.
Utilize The Beauty of B.Y.O.B
If you didn't know that some bars and restaurants allow you to bring your own bottles of wine to dine with; you're welcome. Though it seems too good and far too conveniently cheap to be true, it is!
If you want to save the most on your wining and dining experience, look up some of the bring your own bottle, or B.Y.O.B, restaurants in your neck of the woods, and be prepared for a bill half the cost of your typical dining experience.
Typically, these restaurants will charge a corking fee anywhere from $5 to $20, but that's a small price to pay for the ability to bring whatever bottles you want.
In the end, if you're drink of choice is wine, there will be no stopping your purchasing of said beverage. But hopefully now you'll do so with a better understanding and a greater depth of knowledge on the ins, outs, and how-to's of saving a dollar--or fifty--on your next outing.