London is one of the great capitals in the world of wine. Here are some of our favourite locations
Gordon’s Wine Bar is somewhat of an establishment on London’s Embankment. Said to be the oldest wine bar in London, it boasts a cave-like interior typical of a wine cellar, but its popularity means revellers often spill out alongside Embankment Gardens, creating a vibrant, buzzing atmosphere. With a modern wine list incorporating classic French and South American wines, it’s a great place to sample and work out your favourites. The fortified stuff – sherries, ports and madeira – are served from barrels behind the bar. Luckier visitors who arrive early can nab a table in one of the low basement vaults for an intimate experience.
The concept here is simple, but the wine list is extensive. Split simply into red, white and fizz – the décor is as streamlined as their attractive menu. Run by a couple, Charlotte and Michael Sager-Wilde, the wine bar attracts those looking to learn more about the wines. Food comes in the form of meat and cheese boards and other delectable small plates of pickings such as artichoke dips and picked rhubarb and mackerel. Pared back and inviting, Sager and Wilde is a perfect local bar in Hackney that’s well worth the visit.
Terroirs is in London’s West End and is a delightful spot to sample some of the best sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines. The wine bar is spread out over two floors – the ground floor is reminiscent of the bustling Parisian wine bars, whereas downstairs the vibe is more relaxed with music and a full menu for those wishing to tuck into something alongside the wine list.
With over 285 wines across its four outlets, Vinoteca is doing something right. The wine bars blend the best of Spanish and Italian wine bars; bottle-lined walls surround tables where the atmosphere is laid-back and difficult to leave.
Strictly speaking Vagabond is a wine shop but those who have been will understand why it’s included here. Vagabond was borne out of a frustration with the wine shops available in the capital. This wine shop-cum-bar has over 100 wines available and focuses on the lesser known wines and regions. It operates with a top-up card (much like London’s Oyster card) so you can serve yourself, although there are guided tastings available, too.
Kensington Wine Rooms has attracted the Notting Hill crowd since 2009. There are 40 wines available by the glass and 100 by the bottle. Knowledgeable waiters help you pair the wines to the array of dishes on the Modern European menu.
This wine bar and eatery has two outlets in London: Farringdon and London Bridge. It is a celebration of South African wines and food, so expect a glass of Ken Forrester with a springbok burger. The menu extends to the other great wine-making regions but lovingly hones in on South Africa as its focal point.
Covent Garden’s small bistrot wine bar has a concept that is easy to fall for. As it says on the tin, or indeed above the door, the idea is 10 cases. They only order 10 cases of each of the wines that they sell in the bar. This leads them to discover new and exciting wines and means that your experience will most certainly be different with each visit. The theme of 10 runs through to the seating area too – there are only 10 tables serving lunch and dinner.
If you’re looking for more than just a glass of wine, 28-50 may be for you. The bar/restaurant has three locations across London (Marylebone, Farringdon and Mayfair), which all offer wine workshops. Whether you want to learn more about the Pinot Noir grape or enjoy a southwest France-inspired dinner.
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