How to enjoy great restaurant wines at affordable prices without leaving home | Wine

fNew documents offer a better and more accurate insight into the life and means of the very wealthy than a fine wine list. The massive tome, perhaps the most extraordinary example of this in the world, from the Viennese five-star hotel Palais Coburg, extends over around 100 densely packed pages, on which many prices are in the high three-digit range and many more are advertised with one of two marks German euphemisms for “you almost certainly can’t afford that”: price on site and rarity.

As unearthly decadent as this sort of list undoubtedly is, I understand the unique appeal that has some well-heeled wine lovers saving up for a night at Palais Coburg or other blockbuster wine-filled restaurants around the world, like Eleven Madison Park in New York City or the Sketch in London. Increasingly, however, you don’t have to be a plutocrat — or even pretend to be a plutocrat for a night — to enjoy some of the area’s finest restaurant wines.

OK, I’m not talking about the extremely rare and expensive examples such as the 1929 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti or the 1893 Château d’Yquem that are on offer at the Palais Coburg. These will always be out of reach for most of us. Still, in recent years it’s gotten a lot easier to find, buy and drink at home the kind of bottles that used to only appear on the best wine lists – and at a fraction of the prices you’d find if you were at a restaurant table nervously turning the pages of the leather-bound book.

It’s a trend accelerated by the pandemic, a time when the prolonged closure of their main source of customers has forced many restaurant wine suppliers to look for other avenues to shift their wares. One was to focus on selling more to independent wine merchants, the kind of upscale stores where restaurateurs like to see their wines, or at least are happier than seeing them in a supermarket.

Another option was to become a retailer, cutting out the ailing middleman and selling directly to the general public. Many of these ad hoc online businesses didn’t survive the initial lockdown, but others have survived. With a 60% increase in insolvencies in the hospitality industry over the past year, according to auditing firm UHY Hacker, the appeal of this new revenue stream for wine suppliers is obvious.

It’s also obvious to gamers like me. There is nothing quite like the experience of encountering a new, interesting or just plain delicious wine in a restaurant with similarly stimulating food and company. But in an inflationary age, when our lives seem to revolve around making more of our increasingly scarce resources, at-home service from restaurant suppliers like Jascots at Home, Indigo Wine spin-off The Sourcing Table or the Modest Merchant, among others, is the next best thing.

Six restaurant wines to take home

Six restaurant wines to take home

Metic Cabernet Sauvignon
Colchagua Valley, Chile 2019 (From £10.20,;;
Imported from one of the UK’s biggest restaurant wine suppliers, the natural wine-focused Les Caves de Pyrene, this brilliant Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon rises well above house wine standards and is an effortless juice of ripe blackcurrant.

Tiefenbrunner Merus Vernatsch Vernatsch
South Tyrol, Italy 2021 (£15.66,
Restaurant supplier Jascots charge a fee of £20, which goes in full to hospitality charity Hospitality Action, before you can order from them. It’s worth it for wines like this delicate, light and refreshing Alpine-Italian red, which simply goes best with salami antipasti.

Bruno Murciano L’Alegria
Utiel-Requena, Spain 2019 (From £12.63,;;
As a former head sommelier at the Ritz, Bruno Murciano knows what works in a restaurant, and this red wine, made from the Bobal variety in Murciano’s own vineyard near Valencia, is a beautiful, soft-fleshed, red berry example of a touch of modernity Spanish viticulture.

Wild wines Salt River Sauvignon Blanc
Stellenbosch, South Africa 2021 (£17.50,
The Swig team has always balanced their restaurant supply business with a healthy sideline in direct to consumer sales. The range is outstanding, with South Africa being a particular forte, and well represented by this gastronomically rich yet racy dry white.

Ebner-Ebenauer Grüner Veltliner
Weinviertel, Austria 2020 (£17,
You won’t find many other wines at such a British retail price on Palais Coburg’s list, but this sparkling, green apple and fennel-scented dry white wine, made from Austria’s signature white grape Grüner Veltliner, can be enjoyed at Wiener Wein become an institution for a very reasonable €35.

Langlois Château Classic Brut Cremant de Loire
Loire, France NV (From £13.99,;
Something of a staple on the classic French restaurant scene in Britain (and the Loire, for that matter), Langlois Château’s bottle-fermented sparkling wines are great value for the home or away. This cuvée based on Chenin is stone fruity when ripe, finely sparkling and crisp.

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