Straight from the sommelier’s mouth!

Sommelier Mark Oldman, author of How to Drink Like a Billionaire, reveals why you should always order the cheapest bottle of wine on the list. He shares his tips and tricks on getting your money’s worth when it comes to wine.

We all do it…when confronted with the wine menu in a restaurant: our eyes drift straight to the cheapest option.

And then many of us shift our gaze over an inch or two to select the second, or third, cheapest bottle. No one wants to come across as a complete miser!

But, as Mark Oldman explains in his book, you’re actually better off just sticking with the cheapest option.


He writes that restaurants, wine directors, and sommeliers are on to your tricks. And they’ve anticipated your move long before you’ve even glanced at the wine list.

“Knowing that it will sell swiftly,” Oldman writes about the wine director, “he may have slotted an overstocked bottle into the position on the list.”

“Even worse, he may have marked up this wine more than any other.”

“Making it potentially the worst value on the list.”

Restaurants mark up wine to extract your cash!

Oldman explains that it is standard practice for restaurants to mark up prices on their wines. A typical restaurant marks up a bottle by at least 200%. This is to cover the costs of glassware, staff wages, and other general running costs.

However, it’s important to make sure you’re not being blindly swindled out of your money. The second and third cheapest options on the wine menu are often the ones with the most inflated prices. Since it’s so easy for restaurants to get away with it.

“A restaurant that purchases a bottle for $5 wholesale can mark it up a dizzying 600% to $30 without most diners noticing,” Oldman points out. But those same diners would probably not be taken in by a 600% markup on a $30 bottle. Most people think twice before forking out $180 on wine!

Don’t throw your money away on cheap wine that has been extortionately marked up. Make the savvy sommelier’s choice and go for the cheap and cheerful option.

The cheapest bottle of wine is probably the best value for money!

Oldman advises that:

“You are better served to order the cheapest wine, which diners often neglect out of fear or embarrassment and thus is often a better value. Just make sure you do so at a restaurant that cares about its wine, where even modestly prices wines are of admirable quality.”

Want a couple more tips to get the most from your money when it comes down to the vino?

Never, ever order wine by the glass!

“Wines by the glass are so marked up that it is practically industry scripture that the cost of the first glass covers what that restaurant paid wholesale for the bottle,” he writes.

We don’t know about you but that seems outrageous to us!

Instead, Oldman recommends dividing the price of a bottle by five (the approximate number of servings). This will help you figure out how much you should be paying for a glass.

Another tip? Avoid hotel restaurants like the plague

“Catering to business travelers, wedding parties, and other free spenders, hotels often price their wines like they do that hamburger that somehow costs $40 through room service.”

$40 for a hamburger- yikes!

We’ll take our wine (and our hamburgers) at a reasonable price, thank you very much.