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.

Sula Indian 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.

PG Wine Tips

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

Sensas Côtes de Gascogne Sauvignon Blanc 2010

£7.49 Majestic

A simply-designed but classy looking label doesn’t give much of a clue to the flavour of the contents: refreshing gooseberry, lime and melon flavours.

Angove Australian Grenache Shiraz Rosé

£7.79 Laithwaites

As the minimum order is a case you might consider setting up a restaurant but if you like your rosés sophisticated then 12 bottles may seem rather too few: cherry, strawberry and cranberry cream flavours with an edge of vegetabliness, probably broccoli. And if the contents last more than 20 minutes you’ll find extra flavours of carrot and coconut. Nice.

Léon Beyer Alsace Sylvaner 2010

£7.95 The Wine Society

Apple sponge flavours.

Villa Maria Private Bin New Zealand Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

£9.99 Majestic

Full-flavoured blackberry and creamy damson but not overwhelming.

La Miranda de Secastilla Spanish Garnacha

£10.29 Ocado

Blackcurrant and black coffee with a hint of vanilla. Posh looking bottle too.

And if you want a selection of half wine bottles for your wine list then try’s tasting packs – 4 half-sized bottles start at £33.30.

Twitter wine rim‘So what do you think the wine tastes of?’ is one of the one of the most frightening questions to be asked during an evening class in wine appreciation. Because not only is your ability to pronounce waffle being judged but also how well you’ve got the whole body language thing under control. Because bum shuffling and mumbling gets ‘nul points’ when you’re face-to-face with teacher. But what if all that could be avoided? It can if your wine class meets online through Twitter.

tasting sheetIf the Co-op's fairtrade wine offer has inspired you to organise your own wine tasting at home, then you'll need to get some kit together. Get yourself some tulip-shaped supermarket wine glasses (about £3.99 for 4) – their elongated shaped bowls capture any wine aromas released when the wine is swirled prior to sniffing and tasting. To help you keep track of all the wines you taste why not use my free wine tasting sheet?

Fairtrade symbolThe Co-op’s own-label fairtrade wines are on offer this week. Which is good news if you like your wines to be both ethically-sourced and taste quaffably fruity. Because these South African wines are superb examples of what wines made from well-known grape varieties should taste like.