Talking Wine

With Restaurant Director Matthew Davison


8 Apr 2024


  1. What are some of the tell-tale signs of a good wine list?


Accessibility and navigation are key, we have recently moved from our wine list being on a tablet, to a printed copy, and we have found it has endlessly improved our guest experience in terms of being able to navigate it very easily.  In terms of accessibility, a great list needs to showcase a breadth of price points to suit as many as possible, but I also find that having a really strong by the glass selection from a variety of producers is essential so for those who don’t necessarily want to drink/require a bottle, having a couple of interesting glasses can be just as, if not more exciting.


  1. Should I always avoid the house wine?


I think the term ‘house wine’ has such negative connotations, but I genuinely feel it depends on the establishment that you’re expecting to dine/drink in. You could, in theory, suggest that our ‘house wines’ at Moor Hall are the list of wines that we serve by the glass, but I would never use that term to describe them due to the aforementioned negative reference. If you’re visiting a wine-led establishment then there should be nothing to avoid at all. Then I still think you have to think about the mood you might be in, if a guest is looking for a fresh glass of dry white on a sunny afternoon, or a robust juicy red to contemplate a hard day at the office, and they don’t want to spend a fortune, then why not. Wine is always to be enjoyed and explored.


  1. People say the second cheapest wine on the list is where restaurateurs put their worst value wine because it’s what people who don’t want to look like cheapskates by ordering the house wine will go for. Is that true?


Again, I think this entirely depends on where you are drinking, I dare say that there may be some chain restaurants/bars which use this tactic, but I definitely think that it is less commonly seen now. Particularly when, as a nation, I think as a whole we’ve become a lot more discerning about what we are drinking, more people care about how the grapes are grown, how the wine is made etc, we are constantly seeking great value and honest advice. I certainly wouldn’t be scared of ordering whatever I fancied these days, nobody should ever feel judged about what they choose from a wine list, after all, it’s a vessel for enjoyment and creating conversation, and I think snobby perception of the industry is (finally) making its way out.


  1. Why is sparkling wine only ever served by the glass as 125ml (or 100ml) and never 175ml?


I suppose broadly speaking, most places serve their sparkling wines in flutes, so logistically a smaller measure works. There’s also the cost involved, sparkling wines and champagne carry a higher price point in general due to the production methods involved, amongst other things, so a smaller measure (should) amount to a smaller cost to the consumer, making sparkling wines more approachable. I guess after that, the larger the glass, the longer (in theory) it’s in there for, and could potentially lose its fizz over the period – and most ordering a glass for a celebratory occasion want something with mousse and vibrancy – I’m yet to meet my first guest who requests a flat glass of Champagne



5. If I am just beginning my wine journey and only know prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc and Argentinian Malbec, what are some grape varieties I could look for on a wine list that I haven’t had before that would be easy for me to enjoy and appreciate?


For sparkling, there is an abundance of fantastic value English sparkling wines and Cremant’s making their way onto lists all around the country. We work with Gusbourne in Kent, and despite being made in the same way as wines from Champagne, their Chardonnay based sparklers are racy and fresh – or to stretch further afield try Sekt from Germany, you’ll also find amazing sparkling wines from Tasmania, Australia.
Moving away from Sauvignon blanc is never easy for the die hard Marlborough and Sancerre lovers, however, try looking at the mineral styles of Assrytiko from Santorini, Roditis from Greece or a beautiful Gruner Veltliner from Austria, if you’re seeking further obscurity, Carricante from Sicily is wonderful, as is Verdejo from Spain – whilst these are much more commonplace now, they are wonderful alternatives.

For the bolder, juicier Malbec enthusiasts, try some Aglianico from southern Italy, these are intense and robust, or some spicy Blaufrankisch from Austria, these should do the job just as well. Portugal is still shaking a reputation for some of their tannic reds, but the Douro Valley is producing some outstanding quality wines worth seeking out as an alternative too.


We pride ourselves on our award winning Wine List, as well as our Wine by the glass list and Bar menu. Find out more here. 

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