best value wine lists in Montreal
There are a lot of great mid-range restaurants in Montreal that are a notch above the bring your own wine establishments. I've found that the food prices don't vary much (ie~$12-15 starter, $25-32 main), but due to my somewhat limited wine knowledge (especially of the SW France) and lack of a smart phone, I’m not really sure when it comes to the wine .
For those of you who known their wine much better than me, are the wine markups fairly competitive as well, or are there a few stand outs that you would chose if you were going to splurge on a bottle?
We paid bought an identical bottle at L'Express and at Liverpool House two nights later. Multiple of about 2 @ L'Express, 3.5 @ Liverpool House. Standouts will depend on what you drink and your price point, and even mid-priced restaurants will carry bottles that you cannot buy at the SAQ. I suggest you research price points for very good vintners who make what you like and carry that in a card in your wallet or memorize it. I also recommend giving a sommelier (or manager) a budget and asking him or her to introduce you to a new wine. They usually rise to the challenge.
If I was to splurge on wine in a restaurant, I would go to the restaurants that have a reputation of keeping good bottles in good conditions (Toqué, La Chronique, Au Pied de Cochon (for burgundy), ,... )
But you will pay the price for the good bottles (and the food), forget about keeping your tight budget in control.
If you are somewhat interrested in wine, you should go the the new(er) restaurants that stock wines from private import agencied (wines not usually available from the SAQ monopoly, from where all restaurants source their bottles).
Have a look at restuarants like : Le Comptoir, Le Club Chasse et Pêche, Le Filet, Pastaga, La Salle à Manger, 3 petit Bouchons, ... where you will find good wine from serious wine produces at affordable prices (for example, we had a very good bottle of "Nuit D'Ivresse" from Pierre Breton at 50-something at La Salle à Manger)
If a restaurant advertise a small markup, you are certain that they will sell "ordinary" every day SAQ wine.
So, what are you looking for ? what kind of "wine experience" are you looking for ?
If i'm doing fine dining and want a really nice bottle I usually save the budget for trips overseas where the wine prices seem more reasonable.
We usually get something in the $60-70 range from most mid range places here, but occasionally more. I've been to all that Maximillien mentioned, and will just pick a region I like and ask sommelier to recommend something in my price range. So I was basically looking for a handful of restaurants where without knowing these producers and prices, I can trust that the mark ups are not exorbitant. And it looks like you have given me just that, thanks!
All good points, and it will depends on what kind of wine you like as well. But overall the best value in a restaurant wine list is probably l'Express. Their wines, while quality private imports, are probably as close to cost as you can find in a restaurant with a ''serious'' wine list (not including places like la Paryse that have a few, but very well priced bottles).
Second is probably Alep (and petit Alep), substantial, quality and well priced wine list. Then Le comptoir probably comes next, with great choices at great prices. I guess they are third because the choices are more limited, but what is there is very good, and it varies from time to time, which is fun.