What Wine Is the Best Value in Restaurants?

A new study analyzed 10 million glasses of wine purchased in restaurants; here's what it found
Staff Writer

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

It's a problem we face every time we dine out at our favorite restaurants: what wine to order? And when buying by the glass, which is best? While many may go with the "second-cheapest" tactic from the liquor store, a new study shows which wine varietals are in fact the best bang for your buck by the glass. 

A research group that focuses on restaurant industry and analytics, called Restaurant Sciences, analyzed more than 10 million wine purchases at restaurants, nightclubs, and bars. (Man, you guys are drinking a lot of wine.) When the group looked at by-the-glass consumption, it found which wines were the least expensive, and most expensive, no matter where they were bought. Here's what the study found: 

• The average pour for a glass of wine was about 6.18 ounces (so now you can calculate your cost per ounce — ouch.) 

• The most ordered glasses of wine at restaurants? Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. About 45 percent of all white wines bought by the glass were chardonnay, while 29 percent of all red wines purchased by the glass were cabernet sauvignon. Chardonnays ranged in price from $5.23 at casual dining places up to $12.25 a glass at fine dining locations, while cabernet sauvignon ranged from $5.10 a glass to $12.86 at fine establishments. 

• The best overall values for consumers, across all categories of dining, were pinot grigio and zinfandel. Pinot grigio cost $6.25 a glass at family dining establishments, but ranged upward of $8.32 a glass at fine dining establishments. Zinfandel averaged $5.17 a glass at family dining restaurants, and upward to $8.44 a glass at fine dining establishments.

• In the white varietals, pinot gris commanded the highest price across all types of establishments except fine dining. (Order a glass of pinot grigio over pinot gris, and you'll save on average about $2). In the red varietals, pinot noir was also highest in all types of establishments except in fine dining. 

Still, it may not make much of a difference: "Consumers, however, were not concerned by prices per glass as three out of the four most popular wines were more expensive across the dining categories," said the president of Restaurant Services, Chuck Ellis, in a release. So we know you're going to be drinking it up no matter what the price. 

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