Some of the friendliest staff we’ve encountered in London dispel any notions that this wine bar might be stuffy about its commitment to the grape. That doesn’t mean it’s not serious: it offers 25 wines by the glass, 300 by the bottle, all available to take away. This Soho branch is the most recent to open, in May 2012; there’s also the original in Farringdon and another in Marylebone. On our visit, an Austrian ‘wine flight’ for £10 promised an interesting exploration of the country’s lesser-known styles. The on-tap prosecco (£3.95 a glass) is particularly popular with the after-work crowd who cram in to the informal ground-floor bar; if you want to eat in more peace, reservations are allowed for the quieter upstairs room. Both levels are charmingly yet sparingly decorated, with bare brick walls and huge old French advertising posters. And it’s when you’re dining that the appeal of Vinoteca really becomes clear: even without the fabulous wines, it would still be a great restaurant. Dishes such as mussels, clams and john dory with chorizo, or barnsley chop with greens, are excellent combinations of light, bright flavours – and go perfectly with the recommended wines. Top-quality cheeses and continental meats are sliced by the plateful and make the ideal accompaniment to a reviving afternoon drink.