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You're Drinking the House Wine
Although it sounds like a bargain, "house wine" is usually the worst value on a restaurant's list (unless, that is, you're dining in a quaint Italian village). Allen says the markup on these bottles—which can be domestic or imported—is often very high, since restaurants know they're an easy sell. Instead, consider the imported wine section of the menu—these bottles used to cost much more than American ones but have become much more reasonable. Chilean varieties, in particular, are a great deal; Allen finds many restaurants are responding to customers' increased interest in Malbecs with great deals. (And, as always, consider ordering a bottle if your group is going to drink more than four glasses.)