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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 03-Sep-17


Sunday 03-September-17

Drink and disorderly: the case of the confusing wine menu

I was at a restaurant last night, looking at the wine menu. It was my wife's birthday and I got to choose the drink. Like many other people, I didn't want to spend too much money (very easy with fancy wines) but also wanted to avoid appearing to be a cheapskate. So I started looking a few bottles down the list, keeping a health eye on the price.

It was then that I noticed something odd.

Most wine lists are sorted from cheapest to most expensive. I've wondered about this. If the restaurant owner wants you to buy an expensive wine, wouldn't it be a better idea to start with the most expensive and gradually get cheaper? Like a reverse auction, readers go as far as they dare and then stop. Most would never get to the end and the restaurateur would make more profit. But then some customers would baulk at the high prices and abandon the wine for something cheaper. Maybe, even, they would not return to the restaurant.

Another method would be to use a random sorting, so customers would have to hunt for the cheaper bottles, but this again could cause irritation and abandonment.

The restaurant I was at did neither of these. Instead, it had the wine list sorted roughly into price order, from lower to higher, but not strictly so. Towards the beginning were cheaper bottles, not quite in price order, and further down were kind of more expensive bottles.

Hmm. I thought. What's going on here? This slight disruption was not enough to annoy me (not hence make me disloyal), but it did disrupt the 'second or third in the list' strategy. I ended up being a bit less careful about price and a bit more attentive to the wine type. Which was probably more profitable for the restaurant owner.

The wine, by the way, was delicious, and my wife had a very happy birthday.

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