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The secret of a great wine list? Keep it short

Restaurant wine lists should be slim, seasonal and pared-down, Decanter’s guest columnist Tom Harrow – aka The Wine Chap – argues this month.

Noma: ‘more Blaufränkisch than Bordeaux’

Harrow, whose website winechap.com reviews and recommends restaurant wine lists around the world, reckons the days of 40-page wine lists are over.

‘Who wants to linger over a 40-page restaurant wine list?’ he asks. ‘Two people and a …200-bin list means either a hasty choice or one person staring at the wall for 15 minutes.’

Harrow quotes Xavier Rousset MS of London restaurants Texture and 28:50, who has said that it’s easy to create a great large list but the real skill lies in creating a great small one.

He approves of such restaurants as Copenhagen’s Noma, voted the best in the world in 2010, listing ‘oddities and also-rans’ rather than tried and tested favourites. Noma offers more ‘Blaufränkisch than Bordeaux on its modest list’, he notes.

Lists should not only be short but rapidly-changing, Harrow says – a strategy that means lower price mark-ups as it requires less stock, and wines shifting more quickly.

‘Consumer choice moves from mulling over which of 20 Riojas to try, to trusting the wine buyer to have one really good one – and then returning to try another as the list is updated.’

Read the full article in the April issue of Decanter magazine, on sale now

Written by Decanter.com staff

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