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What makes a wine list? Dmytro Goncharuk, Corrigans Mayfair

Published:  16 June, 2023

In the final instalment of our online series, one last time, Harpers is going back to basics with a member of the UK hospitality industry to find out exactly what is the secret sauce that makes a modern wine list successful.

Last but not least is Dmytro Goncharuk, head sommelier at Corrigans Mayfair.


In your opinion, what are the three main things which make a good wine list in 2023?

A wide range of classic wines, different vintages and price categories. With the current price rises, it is critical to have older vintages on the wine list and, of course, at a fair price.

The use of Coravin has undoubtedly changed the rules of the game and each restaurant can offer a decent range of wines by the glass. But I still believe that halves should be present on the list. The more, the better.

Every wine list should include some new or unusual wines. Even the most conservative guests want to try something new from time to time. At Corrigan’s, for example, it could be Pinot Noir Papillon from Slovakia, or Telti-Kuruk Beykush from Ukraine. 

Wine lists are essentially the supermarket aisles of a restaurant. In your opinion, what is the best way to approach organisation and design? How do diners ‘browse’? Are there any elements of psychology which should be considered and how should lists facilitate that?

I’ve experimented with different formats, but still lean towards the classic structure, while also breaking it down by country. Since price is often the deciding factor in selection, all wines are placed by price. I started noticing that verticals often scare guests and only those who understand wine are willing to discuss the difference in vintages.

Large formats are much easier to sell when they are located not only on a separate page, but in the general list.

What are the ‘must include’ categories or sections and what are optional? Must certain categories / styles go in certain places?

It absolutely depends on the sommelier or whoever makes a list. 

How have wine lists changed over the past few years, particularly with regard to Covid?

I don’t think Covid has affected the wine list in any way. The main thing which has changed recently, is restaurants are offering more wines on tap. There are still only a few of them doing it, but I see development in this category.