I wish I didn't have to let so many people into the secret of my favorite wine list, but duty calls. You might think that a restaurant that lets you bring your own wine (£15 corkage charge) lacks confidence in its own wine list. In the case of Chez Bruce, the opposite is the case. Why would you want to bring anything (other than a very expensive bottle indeed) when faced with such a mouthwatering wine list?
Thirty-six pages of wines, including a page of 18 wines by the glass, 18 half-bottles and 19 magnums, could be a conversation-stopper. But for anyone who's not into the joy of perusing, the experienced Canadian sommelier, Terry Threlfall (left), who has an "unswerving eye for quality", as the website Square Meal rightly puts it, is on hand to help you with your wine choices.
Kicking off with a good number of top Champagne growers like Gimmonnet, Larmandier-Bernier and Berèche, the list takes you on a whistlestop global tour, first of whites, and then reds, taking in both the classics and the paths less well-travelled, of France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain with Burgundy, the Rhône and regional France each an education in themselves.
After diversions in England, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Greece, it's on to the New World, where the prices are reasonable, and the values and quality also excellent. This isn't an off-the-peg list chosen by a supplier-importer, but a group of wines carefully selected over the years by Terry, and owner Bruce Poole himself, to match Bruce's Michelin-starred cooking. If you like great wine and food in a relaxed environment where good service is taken seriously, then you won't find a better comfort zone than this.
2 Bellevue Road, London SW17, 020-8672 0114; chezbruce.co.uk
Hotel Terravina After selling his stake in the Hotel du Vin chain in whose success he was pivotal, top sommelier Gérard Basset has gone on to choose a wonderfully eclectic group of wines for his own boutique hotel and restaurant in the New Forest.
174 Woodlands Rd, Netley Marsh, Hampshire, 02380 293 784; hotelterravina.co.uk
Vinoteca Part wine shop, part restaurant, Vinoteca in trendy Farringdon is a haven for wine lovers, thanks to a brilliantly chosen and annotated wine list in which wines by the glass and bottles from organic to Bordeaux cru classé are sold with an incredibly reasonable mark-up.
7 St John Street, London EC1, 020-7253 8786 ; vinoteca.co.uk
The Old Bridge, Huntingdon You don't get the AA's 2010 Wine Award for nothing and John Hoskins MW now wins this for the second time for a magnificent range of well-priced growers' wines (also available in the wine shop at retail prices) including wines by the glass. Vaut le détour.
1 High St, Huntingdon, 01480 424 300; huntsbridge.com
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