restaurant menuJudging a restaurant on their food will only ever give you half the story. A competent wine list is just as important as the menu as it not only matches the food but also the expectations of the diners. It should also describe the wines in enough detail so that the paying customer can make an informed choice. A notable wine list, though, must do this and more.

Australian wineNot only should it contain wines that match many types of food, it should also contain wines from less well-known and fashionable regions - the best of Austrian, English, Israeli and Algerian wines would be notable choices. A note-worthy wine list would also offer adaptable, good-value house wines to provide an alternative to higher-priced more specialised wines.

A good wine list will have a selection of wines available by the glass or half-bottle. This allows a customer to enjoy one or more appropriate wine styles with their meal. Often overlooked, good wine available in small measures is worthy of note.

Champagnes are included on the majority of lists - customers expect to see them but often the bottle price stops a purchase. A notable wine list will offer Champagne but also sparkling alternatives such as vintage Cavas, and sparkling wines from southern England or the Franciacorta region of Italy which are often more reasonably priced and more fully flavoured.

sparkling winePG Wine Reviews

If you want to create your own restaurant-style wine list then include the following wines.

Co-op Fairtrade Argentinean Malbec Rosé 2014

£5.49 Co-op

Wonderful aromas of pear blossom followed by flavours of peaches, pears and lemons.

Tesco Finest French white Saint Mont 2011

£5.50 Tesco

A blend of three rather unpronounceable French grape varieties makes for a light and creamy wine with flavours from a mixed fruit bowl.

Aldi Exquisite Collection Argentinean Malbec 2015

£5.99 Aldi

Tastes like a square of chocolate melting in the mouth.

Matsu El Picro Spanish Tempranillo 2014

£8.99 Majestic

A really sophisticated red with flavours cocoa and blackberry that are lightened with raspberry and coffee.

Ventisquero Grey Chilean Single Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

£13.49, also available in cases of 6 for £72.92 (equivalent to £12.15/bottle)

Initial flavours of blackcurrant and cherry yoghurt that changes after being opened for half an hour into strawberry and raspberry. Complex.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on

Bramah teapotGrowing a grapevine on the allotment or in a conservatory is not that unusual. I even know of a fully functioning coffee tree growing inside a house (each year the kitchen-bound tree produces about half a pound of coffee beans), but I know of no-one else with tea bushes growing in pots on their bathroom windowsill. They're still rather small but when they're fully grown (reaching about three feet high in larger pots) the Camellia sinensis plants should provide me with enough tea leaves to make about 250 cups of tea.

tongueAt a wine tasting event expect to sniff and taste up to six wines. Your host will encourage everyone to describe the wines for themselves, with perhaps a little prompting. So when the inevitable “so what do think this wine smells of?”, what’s the ‘correct’ thing to say? Expressing your thoughts to a group of strangers is nerve wracking, but you’ve got to say something it’s expected. Just say what the wine aromas smell like, you won’t be wrong.

clockThe move into British Summer Time always leaves me time disorientated but by 7pm this Sunday I know my system will have accepted the change – I can now listen to The Archers and admire the colour of a glass of lightly chilled white wine without needing to put the light on.