For diners who don’t know much about wine, price is often the deciding factor in choosing a bottle. College Humor poked fun at this reality last year with a fake ad for “Second Cheapest Wine.”
“You don’t know much about wine, but you know that you shouldn’t get the cheapest,” the narrator croons.
“Yup, it’s wine,” says a woman after taking a sip.
But two just-opened restaurants are trying to steer diners away from simply ordering the second cheapest bottle by offering wine menus with uniform prices. Casa Luca, the new Italian osteria from Fiola‘s Maria and Fabio Trabocchi, has 20 bottles all for $28 on its “everyday selections” menu. Meanwhile, Spike Mendelsohn‘s new steak frites joint Bearnaise has 25 bottles at a flat $40 price tag. All wines by the glass at Bearnaise are $10.
The theory of the uniform price structure is that people will stop looking at the dollar signs and actually think about which wine will go best with their meal. “I hope it helps promote wine knowledge and wine discussion with the waiters,” Mendelsohn says. “Like, ‘Well, what are you looking for today?… Are you looking for something a little bit more powerful with your steak?… Do you like gooseberries? What kind of flavors are you looking for?’ And I feel like that’s so much more fun for our guests.”
For those who do want to throw down the big bucks, there are other options. Both Casa Luca and Bearnaise also have separate sections on their menus for pricier bottles. At Casa Luca, “Fabio’s Cellar Selections” range from $50 to $105. Bearnaise’s “Reserve List” ranges from $55 to $400.
But at least now, there’s no shame in ordering the cheapest bottle.