Looking for Great Price/Quality Ratios in Restaurant Wine Lists


Looking for Great Price/Quality Ratios in Restaurant Wine Lists

I like to analyse restaurant wine lists. I like to find value for money. I look for great price/quality ratio wines on the list. That’s not necessarily the cheapest and even in the most expensive looking wine lists, there is always a bargain to be found – if you look hard enough.

A few years back I wrote a book called The Top 100 UK Restaurant Wine Lists for Quality and Value. The problem with that was that by the time it got published, many of the lists were out of date. At the time very few restaurants published their wine lists online, but nowadays a lot of them do. And this can be a great advantage to you, especially if the restaurant has a massive list which is really too long to study at the restaurant before your meal.

The way to do it is like this.

1. Choose your restaurant.

2. Go to the restaurant’s website and access their wine list

3. Assess quality. For this, you will need to have downloaded Wine Behind The Label which rates some 20,000 wines on a scale from 1 star to super 5 stars. You can download this by going to

★ a wine of good quality, not just sound but of good fruit and with some character.
★★ a wine with more depth, interest and concentration, usually with some ageing potential
★★★ a very good, even fine, wine. In the case of many reds repaying lengthy cellaring.
★★★★ a wine of very high quality, among the very best even in a top appellation or region.
★★★★★ outstanding quality, potentially a classic.
✪✪✪✪✪ super 5 stars, restricted to the true classics, out-and-out world class.
✫ white stars are used to show a superior wine at a given rating

4. Assess great value on the following scale:

1 star wines should be less than £20 on the list
2 star wines should be less than £25 on the list
3 star wines should be less than £35 on the list
4 star wines should be less than £50 on the list
5 star wines should be less than £75 on the list
Super 5 star wines should be less than £100 on the list

5. Choose 2 or 3 wines at the price points you wish to pay, just in case the restaurant has sold out of one of them when you go there; and whilst you may be willing to pay up to £100 for a wine, you might find a 5 star wine at £53, which should be superb value for money, as I found on Ransome’s Dock’s list if you look at the end of my article on it at https://www.winebehindthelabel.org

6. Having found some bargains, book your restaurant where you should then be all set up to impress your guests with a superb wine choice knowingly friendly to your own pocket.

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