Do you panic when asked to order wine for the table? Fear not. After Richard Ehrlich's masterclass, you will snatch that wine list with gusto

We can all scan a food menu and spot what we want. But finding your way around a wine list can prove a panic-inducing affair. Armed with a few facts, however, that sea of names can become your guide to drinking bliss. To show you how, we have annotated the superlative all-European wine list of The Wolseley, the cool restaurant in London's Piccadilly.

We can all scan a food menu and spot what we want. But finding your way around a wine list can prove a panic-inducing affair. Armed with a few facts, however, that sea of names can become your guide to drinking bliss. To show you how, we have annotated the superlative all-European wine list of The Wolseley, the cool restaurant in London's Piccadilly.

Remember: wines such as Chablis or Beaujolais can be made badly by one guy, brilliantly by his neighbour; so producer means as much as the appellation. An appellation, by the way, is a legally defined wine-name arising from the area where it is made. It may be the place name - Chablis is a village, though its wine is pure Chardonnay. Or it may be grape variety plus a place name, such as Pinot Blanc d'Alsace. Still stuck? Ask. That's why God invented sommeliers.

Champagne

Expensive champagne alert. Rip-off? Not really. The expensive champagnes are marked up less than the cheaper ones, less than 30 per cent in the case of that Krug 1988 (gobsmacking wine, by the way). A standard restaurant mark-up is often 200 per cent. And that beautifully balanced Billecart Salmon is always among the favourite champagnes of wine experts and merchants.

White wines

Chateau Haut Rian Semillon/Sauvignon 2003 Two famous grapes in a classic pairing from a classic source. Expect more complexity than you get from many a more renowned New World wine using one or both of the grapes.

Pinot Grigio It's everywhere, it's budget-priced, it's incredibly popular - and it's usually as interesting as a long speech by George W Bush.

Viognier Fashionable and often with good reason. The Languedoc is a good area for this grape, at least some of the time, and it pays to get acquainted with the different producers. (Bertrand is a good one.)

Petit Chablis Not a term of endearment but an official appellation that means, roughly speaking: "Outside the official Chablis district and never as good as the real thing, but can be of high quality when they come from a really good producer." Durup is a good producer, and £24 is a very fair price to pay.

Gavi di Gavi The superior incarnation of wines from Gavi, Piemonte, Italy. Potentially of stunning quality, but a really good one is rarer than an honest estate agent. Not your best bet unless you know the producer.

Pinot Blanc Aromatic grape unrelated to (and usually much better than) Pinot Grigio. Alsace is its best location.

Albarino Modish Spanish grape with tremendous food-matching potential. This one's from Rias Baixas, the grape's spiritual home.

Grüner Veltliner Über-cool grape grown almost exclusively in Austria and producing some of the world's greatest white wines. Very food friendly.

Reserve white

Reserve means expensive. Sometimes it also means quality. On an all-European list like this, advice is essential. But look at producers' names more than appellation names. Anyone with vines in the right place can make Chablis. Few make it as well as the dudes at Defaix. And you might think that £175 is a lot for a bottle of white, but Domaine Leflaive is one of Burgundy's finest producers.

Bin ends When they say "please ask", you would do well to take the hint. Bin ends are wines with insufficient stocks to be included on the main list. They sometimes sell at a reduced price, but can be interesting even at full price.

Red wines

Condesa I have never heard of this wine, but La Mancha, in central Spain, is rapidly climbing in the league table of great-value wines. An excellent choice at the cheaper end of the list; and the word "crianza" means that it's spent relatively little time in oak, so it will be a fairly pure, uncomplicated, fruity little number with lots of potential for matching with food.

Corbières Along with Cahors (six lines down), one of the never-legendary but often-wonderful low-glamour wines of south-west France. Pretty deep colour, hefty weight, and high-ish tannin levels that simply adore red meat. Often a safe bet on restaurant wine lists, and Château du Cèdres is an outstanding producer.

Château Galet, Côtes de Bourg To be considered alongside Château Guimberteau (Lalande de Pomerol) and Château Maucaillou (Moulis) as an example of a wine from one of the lowlier "satellite" appellations of Bordeaux. Montagne St Emilion and Côtes de Castillon are among the others. Careful picking is essential, but that's true in Margaux, Pauillac and the blue-chip Bordeaux appellations where the wines cost a whole lot more.

Morgon One of the 10 Beaujolais crus, wines allowed to attach a village name because of their superiority (in theory at least) to basic Beaujolais. The names are worth memorising, because the quality, when it's there, really is good - and good with food. In no particular order (aka, in rough descending order of my personal preference): Morgon, Moulin à Vent, Côte de Brouilly, Brouilly, Juliénas, Fleurie, Chénas, Chiroubles, Regnié, St Amour.

Barbera d'Asti Three things to remember here. One: Barbera is the grape. Two: Asti is where it comes from in this instance, the other major candidate being Alba. Three: if it's Barbera, it's almost sure to be from Piemonte.

Blaufränkisch You've probably never heard of this one, but you will impress your friends deeply if you know about it. Blaufränkisch is a grape variety found solely in Austria, where it produces robust, usually highly tannic reds. Never tried this one myself, I'm afraid. But if this restaurant believes in the wine strongly enough to put it on their list, chances are it's a good example.

Pinot Nero 2002 Franz Haas Two useful names here. First, the grape name, which is better known as Pinot Noir in most places. Second, the producer, a northern Italian who couldn't make bad wine if his life depended on it.

Reserve red

Châteaux Pichon etc and Léoville Poyferré The term 2ème cru, places these in the second of the five divisions of Bordeaux's wine properties. The classifications, first made as long ago as 1855 and still remarkably apt (especially after subsequent tweakings), concern wines that you probably can't afford except on state occasions.

Vega Sicilia Unico Spain's most expensive wine by a wide margin. Wonderful stuff, but probably not quite wonderful enough to weep over if you can't afford it. I'd rather weep over the next wine on the list, a good Burgundy appellation from a great producer.

Dessert wines

Very clever selection: top quality all around but mostly from unexpected areas. In this order: classic Loire sweetness, from the Chenin Blanc grape; south-western France, Pacherenc the appellation and Brumont the (very good) producer; sweet sherry from a great, great house, and not at all what you would expect from sweet sherry (wine bore's choice from this list); a real curiosity, with Trockenbeerenauslese grapes being shrivelled last-harvest fruit whose sugar and flavours are intensely concentrated; and finally, the only predictable choice, fine sweet wine from one of Bordeaux's famous sticky appellations. Note: 1981 wasn't much cop for Bordeaux red, but a killer year for sweeties.

Directory

Amaya Halkin Arcade, Motcomb St, London SW1, tel: 020 7823 1166

Anchor and Hope 36 The Cut, London SE1, tel: 020 7928 9898

Anthony's 19 Boar Lane, Leeds, tel: 0113 245 5922

Babes'n'Burgers 275 Portobello Rd, London W11, tel: 020 7727 4163

Black Pig Rock Rd, Rock, Cornwall, tel: 01208 862 622

Bluebird Dining Room 350 King's Rd, London SW3, tel: 020 7559 1129

Centotre 103 George St, Edinburgh, tel:0131 225 1550

Chez Kristof 111 Hammersmith Grove, London W6, tel: 020 8741 1177

Cipriani London 25 Davies St, London W1, tel: 020 7399 0500

Floridita 100 Wardour Street, London W1, tel: 020 7314 4000

Frankie's Italian Bar and Grill 3 Yeoman's Row, London SW3, tel: 020 7590 9999

Hind's Head High St, Bray, Berkshire, tel: 01628 626 151

Inn the Park St James's Park London SW1, tel: 020 7451 9999

La Casa del Habano 100 Wardour St, London W1, tel 020 7314 4001

Le Cercle 1 Wilbraham Place, London SW1, tel: 020 7901 9999

Leon 35 Great Marlborough St, London W1, tel: 020 7437 5280

Made In Brasil 12 Inverness St, London NW1, tel: 020 7482 0777

Mehek 45 London Wall, London EC2, tel: 020 7588 5043

Meza 100 Wardour St, London W1, tel: 020 7314 4002

Ottolenghi 287 Upper St, London N1, tel: 020 7288 1454

Paternoster Chophouse Warwick Court, Paternoster Square, London EC4, tel: 020 7029 9400

Pearl 252 High Holborn, London WC1, tel: 020 7829 7000

The Real Eating Company 86 Western Road, Hove, East Sussex, tel: 01273 221 444

Refuel The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, London W1, tel: 020 7559 3007

Relais de Paris 103 Walton St, London SW3, tel: 7052 9333

Roka 37 Charlotte St, London W1, tel: 020 7580 6464

Salt Whisky Bar 82 Seymour St, London W2, tel: 020 7402 1155

Tapas Brindisa 18-20 Southwark St, London SE1, tel: 020 7357 8880

Throgmortons 27A Throgmorton St, London EC2, tel: 020 7588 5165

Thyme 24 Endell St, London WC2, tel: 020 7170 9200

Tom Aikens 43 Elystan St, London SW3, tel: 020 7584 2003

Umu 14-16 Bruton Place, London W1, tel: 020 7499 8881

Yauatcha 15 Broadwick St, London W1, tel: 020 7494 8888

The Zetter 86 Clerkenwell Rd, London EC1, tel: 020 7324 4455

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