Top NYC Restaurants on Their Second-Cheapest Wine

The Second-Cheapest Wine Principle is no doubt alive and well—but what exactly does it get you at New York's top restaurants? Here, ten NYC sommeliers share their second-cheapest wine, its list price and why it made the cut.

Second-Cheapest Wine NYC

The unavoidable truth about wine lists is that, no matter what, one bottle has to hold the title of Cheapest Wine on the List. But the Second-Cheapest Wine Principle, embraced by the distrusting cheapskates, new drinkers and light-pocketed daters alike, suggests that if you buy the second-cheapest offering, you’ll be getting the best deal without looking, well, cheap. This accepted truth is so widespread that it’s given rise to a whole mess of cynics who’ve suggested that restaurants are preying on the principle to make the second-cheapest wine the worst deal on the list. So what is the current state of the SCWP? Here, ten of New York City’s top sommeliers share their second-cheapest bottle, its list price and why it made the cut. —Megan Krigbaum 

Amanda Smeltz, Roberta’s
2013 Koehler-Ruprecht Weissburgunder Kabinett Trocken, $39
“The Pfalz is a unique region where lesser-known, lesser-loved white grape varieties can find terrific expressions with the best producers. Koehler-Ruprecht is a historic producer there: they make a weissburgunder (pinot blanc) with tons of floral, citrusy, spicy character. And it’s on the Pradikat system, meaning they actually let the fruit ripen to kabinett-level sweetness, but then ferment the juice all the way to dry. This is a legit, complex, moving little bottle—for a quarter the cost of what I spent on my stupid new pot-and-pan rack from Bed Bath & Beyond.” [Buy retail]

Thomas Pastuszak, The NoMad
2013 Boundary Breaks Ovid Line North Riesling, $35
“I am a huge supporter of the [Finger Lakes] region and there are a number of delicious wines coming from there that fall nicely at this price. This off-dry riesling has crackling acidity to balance the fruit character. It drinks very much like a kabinett or spätlese riesling from the Mosel, is an amazing food wine and is just super refreshing on its own.” [Buy retail]

Jason Jacobeit, Bâtard
2014 Domaine de la Sarazinière Mâcon Bussières, $38
“[This is] just a joy to drink—pure, perfumed, refined white Burgundy from the Mâcon. I remember tasting it for the first time in late 2015. I was exhausted from a day of tasting Burgundies for the list (I was maybe 200 wines in). Then, along comes this extraordinary creature that brought my weary palate back from the ashes. It is just adorable—subtle and shifting and lovely with a haunting mineral presence and effortless elegance.” [Buy retail]

Thomas Carter, Estela and Café Altro Paradiso
2013 Leonardo Bussoletti Brecciaro Ciliegiolo di Narni, $48
“This wine is actually the second-cheapest on both of our wine lists. It’s very fluid, very easy. Most people think of wines from Umbria as [being] big and heavy, but this is just really light on its feet.” [Buy retail]

Eduardo Porto Carreiro, Untitled
NV Macari Vineyards Sette, $45
“It’s a terrific blend of Long Island merlot and cabernet franc that expresses itself as a medium-bodied, rustic and charming red, reminiscent of some lovely wines one might find from the right bank of Bordeaux… this is a wine that combines the best characteristics of both grape varieties in an easy-to-drink style that is also super versatile on the dinner table.” [Buy retail]

Daniel Bjugstad, Pasquale Jones
2012 Guido Marsella Fiano di Avellino, $55 (service included)
“The smoky, savory flavors of fiano are what you want with grilled or wood-roasted fish. Plus, fiano ages better than most white wines and none are very expensive.” [Buy retail]

Yana Volfson, Cosme
2013 Partida Creus Sumoll, $60
This wine highlights some of the lighter and natural styles of wine coming out of Spain. I thought it would be a fun pairing with some of the lighter dishes on our menu. [Buy retail]

Dhrubo Mazumdar, Lowlife
2014 Franck Peillot Altesse, $48
“Savoie is an unsung region that is full of affordable treasures. Franck Peillot’s “Altesse” is a great alternative to wines from more expensive regions like Sancerre and Chablis. [He’s] an organic producer [and] his 2014 is a lithe and pristine Alpine white that is beautiful and versatile.” [Buy retail]

Chris Tunnah and Missy Robbins, Lilia, Brooklyn
2014 Marchese Alfieri Sansoero, $45
“It’s on the list because it’s highly food friendly (low tannin, good acid, well balanced, not too fruit-driven), and while light in weight, it’s still a very interesting wine. We can start with this wine and it carries through most items on the menu. All in all, a fun wine to drink.” [Buy retail]

John Paterson, Prime Meats, Brooklyn
2014 Domaine Ruet Régnié, $42
“I added this to the wine list because I think the wine is delicious and affordable and I wanted something that I can put down next to our handmade sausages at any hour of the day. Régnié is a unique village in Beaujolais with pink granite and sandy soils that are lighter than some of the more famous crus like Morgon or Fleurie. The result is a super fresh, light, energetic wine that is dangerously gulpable. Being able to pour cru Beaujolais by the glass and have it on the wine list for under $45 makes this wine 100 percent awesome.” [Buy retail]

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