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Why are restaurants’ cheapest bottles of wine becoming so expensive?

Wine lists shouldn’t be terrifying but too often they make me feel like a second-class citizenIn matters of wine, I am not Withnail. I do not crave “the finest wines available to humanity”. I merely want something drinkable from the cheap end of the list which won’t get me in trouble with the editor approving my expenses. It is not only about avoiding confrontation. I also hold that, while paddling about in the shallower waters of that list, I should not be made to feel like a second-class citizen. The opening price should be welcoming.In my latest restaurant review (out on Sunday 15 August) I shine a spotlight on an egregious example of the exact opposite; on wine pricing that will punch the very breath out of any reasonable person. It is, thankfully, an outlier. But it does raise wider questions about the whole approach to wine pricing and more importantly, the entry point. In my reviews I always list the price of the cheapest bottle. You can tell an enormous amount about a restaurant from that one detail. Those which have bottles for around £20 or less are simply more welcoming than those where the cheapest starts at £30. Recently, I’ve noticed a significant increase in the latter. I loved the food at Humble Chicken; the £30 wine entry point, far less so. Ditto the £32 charged at the restaurant Sussex. Continue reading…