The London wine bar scene is once again in rude health and growing at an impressive rate, thanks to a handful of innovative wine entrepreneurs. Openness, diversity, menus to rival top restaurants and accessibly-priced glasses are the hallmarks of the new wine movement. We've put together our updated list of the best places to drink wine in London. Each is distinctive and in every case, worth the journey.
King's Cross - Unit 22-24 Bagley Walk Arches Coal Drops Yard, London N1C 4DH
Set in a bustling corner of the Coal Drops Yard development in King's Cross, The Drop is a modern wine bar from the Hart Brothers. In a departure from their Spanish roots, the team have created a spacious drinking spot which features a short menu of British plates alongside a short but regularly changing list that champions low-intervention wines from small and offbeat producers, mainly from Europe.
Wine and food highlights: The one-page food menu is short and to the point, but filled with exactly the types of dishes you might expect from the team behind Quo Vadis. Their current roster features Jersey Oysters, Melton Mowbray Pork Pie and mustard, Scotch Quail's Egg with spicy ketchup and a selection of 4 British and French cheeses is everything you need to help work through a bottle or two.
As for the wine list, the Harts have taken the approach of small is beautiful. At just two pages long it covers an impressive amount of territory - with 23 wines available by the glass and most of the bottles landing between the £30-£60 sweet spot. Highlights from the current list include a textured Viognier from Rhone producer Chateau Pesquie, a fresh vintage of the SP68, an orange wine from Sicilian producer Arianna Occhipinti and a juicy Xinomavro from the Greek mainland. The wines all hail from small-scale producers and wouldn't be out of place at any of the other Hart Brother's restaurants.
Finsbury Park - 5-7 Wells Terrace, London N4 3JU
With a focus on providing an informal and relaxed environment, the team at Oak N4 have slowly built a local following since they opened in early 2017. Regulars are usually found perched chatting with staff at the counter, or if the weather allows - around wine barrels placed out front. All of the wines here are available to drink in or take away. The team also offer free local delivery by bike. The wine list is always evolving - and whilst the regular favourites are never far away, they're always introducing new drops.
Wine and food highlights: The wine list has been created with the help of Channel 4's Sunday Brunch wine expert, Raul Diaz. Together with owner Cameron McKeown, there's a list of 150 wines, of which around 30 are available to enjoy in-store. A few bottles which caught our eye from a recent visit include a Weissburgunder from Austrian female winemaker Judith Beck and a very fairly priced Bordeaux blend from Chilean producer Parcela #7.
The food offering at Oak N4 is a very simple affair, platters of cheese and charcuterie, olives and almonds - all of the essentials one needs when engaging in a late-night or weekend afternoon session. Small dishes such as Mussels with flatbread, Burrata with semi-dried tomatoes, balsamic and fresh bread, and Smoked Salmon on bread with horseradish are also available.
In addition, the team also host regular wine tastings. Starting from £15, these 30-minute sessions offer guests a chance to explore three to five wines in an informal setting, perfect for couples and groups. Diaz also hosts regular wine-tasting events - short tasting sessions focusing on a specific grape, area, style of wine.
Forest Wines (Walthamstow) - Supplying Walthamstow residents with a range of low intervention wines, natural, organic, biodynamic and vegan you can also drink in with a range of snacks to go alongside the wines.
The Nook (Islington) - Wines at this Islington bar and restaurant are chosen for affordability, tastiness and originality. Look out for the specials board for regularly changing offerings.
Bermondsey - 40 Maltby Street, London SE1 3PA
40 Maltby Street started life as a small and focused wine importing business and quickly blossomed into a wine bar and bistro. This humble operation, based in a railway arch, saw a rapid rise to fame, with critics Marina O'Loughlin and Jay Rayner praising the food and laid back atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, the wine here is also worth shouting about. Guests can buy wine to take away or for an additional £12 can drink it with a few plates from the kitchen.
Wine and food highlights: The changing list is made up of wines sourced from small producers, and is organic, biodynamic or natural. You'll need wine knowledge equivalent to that of a Master of Wine to be able to successfully navigate this list, without help from proprietor Raef Hodgson. However, Raef is more than happy to share his knowledge of the French and Italian wine regions that the list mainly covers. The wine list changes relatively regularly, so if you're the type to get attached to a wine, it might pay to look at buying a couple of bottles to take away.
The menu from chef Steve Williams changes daily and is produce-led, which keeps regulars returning on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. The caponata on toast with yogurt and boiled egg or Hake fritters, courgette & basil probably won't be on the menu next week, but was enough to have us booking a return visit.
Elephant & Castle - 96 Rodney Road, London SE17 1BG
This neighbourhood gem took the opportunity to reformat its offering post-lockdown. What was initially a locals wine bar has now evolved. A daytime cafe and grocer by day, the tables are set and transformed into a cosy wine bar by night.
Wine and food highlights: Diogenes the Dog was opened by owner Sunny Hodge with a focus on highlighting the underdogs of wine. It's not uncommon to see new and emerging regions such as Wales, Bulgaria, Poland, and even China highlighted on their list alongside more classic choices from France, Italy and Spain. Sunny strives to keep his list differentiated from other wine bars and has forged personal connections with many of these winemakers - which allows him to import many of these directly from the producers.
Taking this connection one step further, the team have also developed their own 'Natural House Wines'. Developed in partnership with a winery in Puglia. These everyday sippers can be enjoyed both in the bar as well as for takeaway.
The food and wine menu changes relatively regularly but features the staples - bread, cheese, pickles and charcuteries. Seasonal small dishes from their current menu also include Anchovies with blue cheese and pane carasau, Hummus and Artichoke dip and Nduja Foccacia.
Peckham - 125 Queen's Rd, London SE15 2ND
Located on Queen's Road, Peckham this neighbourhood wine bar, shop & restaurant was launched by a trio of hospitality veterans and longtime friends. What started as a quiet local wine bar swiftly transitioned from neighbourhood novelty to community cornerstone. Spirited through subsequent lockdowns as an online shop, their cheerfully named delivery van 'Danny de Vino' can often be seen darting through the streets of South London, delivering cases to fans of this well-loved wine shop.
Wine and food highlights: The kitchen at Peckham Cellars is headed up by head chef Henry Freestone (previously of Crispin, Spitalfields). Freestone’s modern-British/European menu has rapidly established Peckham Cellars as more than just a wine bar, being awarded a coveted Bib Gourmand in last year's Michelin awards. Dishes such as his Peckham Zinga Burger Tower, Smoked Aubergine, mint & hazelnuts and Cornish Mids Potato Salad have proved a huge hit with Peckham locals.
On the wine front, founder Benjamin McVeigh has drawn upon years of experience as a wine buyer and supplier to craft an adventurous but sensitively priced wine list. Current highlights from his seasonal selections include Domaine Goisot Aligote, a Pinot Noir Rose from the Loire Valley, and a hearty Georgian Saperavi.
36-38 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London SE22 8HJ
Originally opened as a sister bar and restaurant for the Covent Garden original, Terroirs East Dulwich broke new ground when it opened its doors here, proving to this corner of South London that natural wine and regional French fare could be simply served in an unfussy and unpretentious environment.
Wine and food highlights: A shared ownership with natural wine import company Les Caves de Pyrene, ensures that Terroirs maintains one of the deepest and most dynamic natural wine lists in London. The wine bar features around 300 bottles on its list - many which are the only place in the capital to try some bottlings from small producers, made in tiny quantities. Much less daunting is their glass list which reflects excellent value, most falling between £4.50 and £7 per glass.
As much as the impressive wine offering has been important in garnering a loyal local following, it's the produce-driven regional French dishes such as Duck Rillettes, Whipped Cods Roe on toasted sourdough, and roasted Delica Pumpkin which have kept customers returning time and again.
Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AA
A thoughtfully-restored subterranean space hidden beneath the pavement next to Clapham Common, WC (Wine & Charcuterie) is a perfectly formed operation. Making the most of a small space, the low lit bar uses a combination of candle and pavement light from above to create a moody and intimate atmosphere. Local Jayke Mangion first opened the bar in 2014 and used lockdown to give the space a freshening up and minor refurbishment.
Wine and food highlights: Like the surroundings, the wine list at WC is small & intimate. Built with ease and accessibility in mind, the 40 strong list of regularly changing bottles showcases a diverse selection of styles and grape varieties. Guests are encouraged to zig-zag their way across the globe - jumping from Puglia to Portugal and Stellenbosch to Sicily.
Whilst charcuterie is in the name, the WC menu is more than just cold cuts. This is the first wine bar we've seen which offers a 'Plant Based' charcuterie board which features smoked vegan cheddar, cashew cream cheese and Mushroom Pate 'black pudding'. Elsewhere on the menu there's Rabbit sliders with fennel slaw and watercress, Wild Mushrooms with crispy polenta and porcini cream and Tartiflette made with Reblochon, potato and lardons.
D Vine Cellars (Clapham) - This super-friendly Clapham spot has a broad selection of everything from “ a classic burgundy to “a freaky natural wine” - their words.
Dalston - 5 Dalston Ln, London E8 3DF
Don't be fooled by the name, this Dalston wine shop, bar and garden features a deep selection of wines imported by founder Peter Honegger - including a wide selection from his native home of Austria. Newcomer features a wine counter at the front, and a wine shop and wine garden out at the back - an essential escape throughout the summer which transforms into a cosy vinous hideaway for the winter months.
Wine and food highlights: Owner Peter has curated an impressive range of growers you won't find elsewhere by the bottle or glass. Wine from their ever-changing list include cult Austrian winemakers such as Christian Tschida, Claus Preisinger and Ewald Tscheppe - producers who are no stranger to the top wine lists across London.
The bar menu at Newcomer is a homage to the best producers from Hackney, here you'll find a simple array of dishes including Smoked Trout from Stoke Newington's Fin & Flounder, Honey Roast Ham with horseradish courtesy of Hill & Szrok, smoked Coombeshead Farm sausage with mustard and Lincolnshire Poacher courtesy of British cheese mavens The Cheese Bar.
Shoreditch - 85 Leonard St, London EC2A 4QS
Whilst the breadth of a wine list is always an attractive feature at any wine venue, who doesn't love a place which can also show depth and focus? Few others can compete with the sheer array of Italian wines which Passione Vino (which literally means “Passion for Wine”) showcases. Headed by the ebullient Luca Dusi, Passione Vino started life as a small wine shop on a quiet street in Shoreditch. Driven by hospitality, generosity and an unrivalled knowledge of Italy's most exciting wines, Luca has built an Italian wine mecca which now features a dining room, run by chef Pascal Lazzarotto (formerly of Hill and Szrok and Lyle’s).
Wine and food highlights: Having dedicated the past 18 years to discovering and importing many of Italy’s best wines, Luca is a true authority on the topic and his offering is a reflection of the relationships he has cultivated. Visitors aren't presented with a menu, instead a conversation with Luca to divine the best course of action.
Wines selected from the Passione Vino shop are subject to a modest £10 markup and are served in an impressive array of glassware. Those starting gently might opt for a Valpolicella Ripasso from Veneto producer Antolini before progressing onto something a little more serious - a 15-day skin contact field blend 'Ograde' from Friuli Venezia producer, Skerk.
On the dining side, Pascal makes homely Italian dishes that one would expect to be served by friends and family across the country. The menu changes daily, but recent dishes which caught our eye include Whipped cod on polenta, Cured beef with Rocket, as well as freshly made pasta dishes such as Caserecce al Pesto and Fusilli with Sicilian Datterino tomatoes and 20-month aged Parmesan.
Clapton - 107 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 0NP
Chinese takeaway on Lower Clapton Road. Inside, drinkers will find a wall of bottles which sports one of London's best assortments of natural wines. Opposite this sits a wide bench which serves the combined purpose of tasting table, drinking space and kitchen counter. Located at the end of this bench are 'the 'stoves' - a pair of induction hobs which have been graced by an impressive number of talented chefs. First established in 2016, the residency program has helped launch the careers of chefs such as Anna Tobias, Tim Spedding, William Gleave and Seb Myers.
Wine list and food highlights:
Wine and food highlights: If Pink wine, Pet Nat and concrete eggs are part of your regular wine vernacular, then you'll be well taken care of here. The bar now has reduced opening hours and operates on a walk-in only basis - so you'll have to be quick on weekends and busy weeknights to snap up a top spot. One the ever changing list you'll find a constantly changing selection of sparkling (pet-nat), whites, red and orange wines by the glass. These change almost daily and start at around £6 for a glass of Yann Bertrand Fleurie. Guests are encouraged to pluck bottles from the shelves and enjoy at the table for a reasonable markup of £15 on top of the shop price.
The pandemic hasn't slowed down the pace nor calibre of the kitchen. Current resident chef Chase Lovecky, previously of restaurant Two Lights, is currently serving a weekly changing menu of dishes such as Coco Beans, smoked eel & pickled green tomatoes and Sweet corn ravioli, brown butter & griolles alongside staples such as sourdough & butter, Finocchiona, Tinned Mussels and Serrano Ham and figs.
Photo: Cheese & Biscuits
Bethnal Green - Arch 12 Gales Gardens, London E2 0EJ
Renegade is a truly novel concept. As one of the city's very first urban wineries - who select, vinify and bottle their very own crus - it's difficult to say where you might get a fresher glass of wine anywhere in the capital. This grape to glass pitch is more than a gimmick however, the founders have built a sustainable and community-oriented operation.
Wine and food highlights: First setting down roots in early 2017, owner Warwick Smith started with just four wines on their roster (three whites and one red if you're asking). Guests are now invited to sit on trestle tables amongst French barriques of ageing stock, each of which has its contents scrawled in chalk.
As for the wines themselves, the output from the winery has taken an adventurous turn as of late, their recent outturn includes Skin Contact Bacchus fermented and aged in Qvevri (clay vessels), Puglian grown Nero Di Troia, and a Wild ferment Ortega, grown in Gloucestershire.
There are other bottles available from a selection of European producers, but that would be akin to ordering a pint of continental lager on a visit to The Guinness Brewery. The produce of these passionate winemakers is all you need to spirit you along here.
Hackney - 129 Hackney Road, London E2 8J
First launched in the dark ages of wine bars (back in 2013), Sager & Wilde found fame serving rare wines, all by the glass, for insanely low mark-ups. Unsurprisingly the idea struck a chord and a cult wine bar was born. Their format and approach has changed slightly since those heady days, but this doesn't make Sager & Wilde any less appealing. The formula is simple - an ever-changing selection of ‘benchmark’ wines from leading producers, served in impressive glassware, in unpretentious surroundings.
Wine and food highlights: This will come as no surprise to most - but the wine list at Sager & Wilde remains one of the best value and most comprehensive for wine lovers anywhere in London. Glasses range from £5.50 to £12. The usual rules apply here, spend a little more and you'll be rewarded accordingly. Their twelve-page wine list contains gems which you'd typically see at the top end, Michelin-starred restaurants. The team have gone to great lengths to ensure that they have an amazing selection of rare cult wines from producers such as Domaine Dujac, Henschke, Chateau D'Yquem, Shafer and Dagueneau amongst others.
Food-wise, there's a simple menu using top-quality ingredients such as Charcuterie from Natoora, cheese from Androuet alongside homemade pickles. It is the now-famous Sager and Wilde grilled cheese sandwich which retains pride of place on the menu updated for 2021 with the addition of sundried peppers and smoked chili jam.
Hackney - 13 Morning Lane, London E9 6ND
Undeniably the best place in London to drink orange wine. Silver Lining took the brave decision during lockdown to shift its list entirely orange. Now it features a list of over 50 producers across a broad range of styles from sparkling and still through to off-dry styles. Operating as a coffee and wine shop during the day, the space is transformed into a low-lit wine bar serving up seasonal small plates in the evenings.
Wine and food highlights: The team feature three skin contact wines by the glass each night and several more by the bottle. These include Max Sein Wein’s Trio Sauvage, Petr Koráb’s skin contact Gewurztraminer and a milder Spanish option from Maestro Tejero.
The menu is made up of small dishes including, Giant White beans, olive oil and lemon zest, white asparagus with Garlic Aioli and Ortiz Anchovies in rosemary oil.
Bottles (Spitalfields) - If Italian, biodynamic wine is your thing, this Spitalfields spot is the place to go.
Weino Bib (Dalston) - This Dalston wine shop, delicatessen & wine bar is all about natural, sustainable wine drinking
Chelsea - 300 King's Rd, London SW3 5UH
The first 28-50 was opened as a collaboration between star sommelier Xavier Rousset and chef Agnar Sverrisson back in 2011. The founders have since moved on and the group has spread its wings - now operating four wine bars in prime sites across London. Over the years, the team have carved out a niche for serving top quality wine in a relaxed and unpretentious environment and were amongst the first to spearhead the 75ml measure for all of their wines by the glass, allowing guests to try a range of high-quality wines before splashing out on a bottle.
Wine and food highlights: 28-50 features 15 whites and 15 reds by the glass, carafe and bottle which they change every month. Highlights from the current list include Gavi di Gavi from Piedmont, Malbec from Bodega Monteviejo, and a 2015 Chianti Classico from Tolaini. Also available in each branch is 'The Collectors List', a selection of cult wines and classics mainly focused on premium red wines sourced from private collections.
28-50 Chelsea serves a simple menu of classic Mediterranean dishes. 28-50's classics cover off larger plates such as Poussin with grilled baby gem & salsa verde, Seared Tuna with artichoke and romesco, and Tomato Risotto with black olive.
1 Wood Lane, Shepherd's Bush, London W12 7DP
Famously known as the birthplace of EastEnders, Albertine gained its place in London's cultural history as the location where the creators of EastEnders write the soap's first script. Chef Alexandra McEvedy and business partner Roberto Freddi took the reins in 2017 but their history with the space goes way back. McEvedy's mother opened it back in 1978. McEvedy and Freddi took the opportunity to introduce a simple menu which is now available in a new upstairs dining room.
Wine and food highlights: The wine list at Albertine is to the point - 10 pages long with sections dedicated to whites, red, orange, rose and sparkling from the traditional wine-producing regions of Europe with a smattering of new world producers. Glasses range from £7 - £9 and the list is in its stride around the £40-£50 mark - Staffelter Hof’s natural Mosel Riesling, Tuscan Montepulciano and Rioja Tempranillo from Hacienda Grimón all fit this bill.
As you might expect from a wine bar run by two chefs, the food offering at Albertine is full of great dishes. The current menu features sweet potato hummus and smoked harissa, Fried calamari & alioli, Pork hash with chilli fried duck egg. More substantial plates including Halibut, clams & green beans and Bavette & chips are also available.
Kensington Wine Rooms (Kensington) - With 150 bins and more than 40 by the glass, this wine bar mixes offerings from top drawer estates to boutique winemakers.
16-18 Endell St, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BD
Now in its tenth year, The 10 Cases Cave a Vin was first launched as an extension to the original restaurant. The 'Cave' has built its own following thanks to its relaxed atmosphere, slick service and regularly changing selection of fairly-priced wines by the glass. The cosy space sees drinkers seated alongside shelves stacked high with wines that are also available to buy to take away.
Wine and food highlights: With a daily changing list of ten wines available by the glass, even the fussiest of wine drinkers will be well catered for here. Those opting for a bottle will find an impressive range of old and new world options. A quick scan of the list reveals well-priced options including an Oregon Pinot Blanc, Tempranillo from the Rioja and Amarone Classico from renowned producer Antolini.
A great selection of wines calls for a generous menu to match and, taking advantage of the next-door restaurant, the Cave à Vin serves up seasonal snacks, small plates and main dishes created from the next door Bistro. These include Soused mackerel with creme fraiche and gooseberries and Steak Tartare with parmesan.
12a Newburgh St, Soho, W1F 7RR
This French-run wine bar & shop is one of Carnaby’s best-kept secrets. Tucked away on a quiet corner of Newburgh Street, this French-owned natural wine hub is the ideal place to start (or finish) an evening out in Soho.
The venue is spread over two floors with a cheese and charcuterie bar on the ground floor and a bright and elegant dining room on the first floor. The outdoor terrace is also bookable and a popular spot to grab an afternoon or early evening glass.
Wine and food highlights: Antidote boasts one of the most comprehensive natural wine lists in central London.
By-the-glass offerings change frequently and the venue holds tastings as well as meet-the-maker sessions. Highlights from the current list include glasses of Champagne Fleury Brut, Domaine Josmeyer Pinot Blanc and cult producer Radikon's skin contact Pinot Grigio - a must-try for the orange-curious.
The menu was previously much more extensive, however, currently the kitchen is keeping it simple with dishes like Duck Rillettes & Toast and Bull's Heart Tomatoes with Lilliput Capers & Cantabrian Anchovies.
19 Kingly Street, Soho, London, W1B 5PY
A new entrant to the Soho wine bar & restaurant scene, Bar Crispin is the sophomore effort from the well regarded Crispin in Spitalfields. Founders Dominic Hamdy and Oliver Hiam have looked to replicate the success of the first restaurant bringing a talented chef and sommelier team to a ground floor and basement venue on Kingly Street, Soho.
The upstairs space seats 20 with room for ten outside and a ‘Green Room’ for private dining which seats twelve. In a similar format to their eastern outpost, Crispin serves breakfast pastries and speciality coffee before transitioning into a wine bar complete with lunch and evening menus.
Wine and food highlights: The extensive list of natural and low-intervention wines is a huge draw here. Sommelier Alex Price oversees a list of 150 bottles focused primarily around the old-world primarily and small producers. The menu wanders through Price’s favourite regions - the Loire, Beaujolais, Savoie and features wilder wines yielded from volcanic land and wonderful producers in places such as Tenerife, Sicily and Greece.
Heading up the kitchen, chef Brendan Lee joins the team having recently returned to London after several years working in the USA, including the Michelin-starred ‘Al’s Place’ in San Francisco. His menu progresses quickly through familiar wine bar classics - sourdough, oysters, olives, burrata into more adventurous territory including anchovy and potato focaccia with salsa verde and black garlic ice cream with chocolate tuile.
23 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RR
Initially launched as a members club for hospitality, the Black Book opened its doors to welcome the public last September. From wine industry veterans Gearoid Devaney and Xavier Rousset, the Black Book uses its discreet location to provide guests a highly personal experience. The name is a nod to the 'black books' which sommeliers are said to keep, noting their favourite wines and tasting notes.
The subterranean space has quickly become the default after-hours drinking space for Soho somms, who flock here post-shift to drink their way through this well-priced, exceptional selection which has been personally curated by Rousset.
Wine and food highlights: Of course, the main attraction of The Black Book is the bar’s impressive selection of wines by the glass. Through the clever use of wine gadget Coravin, the team are able to pour a huge selection of wines by the glass. Standouts from their current list include an Austrian Gruner Veltliner from Hefeabzug Nikolaihof and a rare opportunity to drink Jean Louis Chave's St Joseph.
The menu is built around snacks and sharing plates, broadly Mediterranean in style. This includes Spiced lamb kofte & tzatziki, confit chicken terrine and smoked pork belly and cheddar croquettes.
44 Blandford Street, W1U 7HS
Based in a three-storey London townhouse, Clarette offers a predominantly French list bolstered by exceptional wines from around the world. First opened in 2017, the project is a partnership between Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos, heiress of the Château Margaux family and restaurateur Natsuko Perromat du Marais.
The bar is set across four areas, guests are invited to a large and welcoming bar on the ground floor complete with a large communal table - similar to those found in the grand Château of Bordeaux. The first floor features more intimate surroundings with a beautiful fireplace and cosy surroundings. Finally, an outdoor terrace is the perfect place to watch street scenes of Marylebone.
Wine and food highlights: The wine list at Clarette is short and accomplished, focused around showcasing wines exclusively from classic wine regions of France and Italy. Their current selection by the glass includes ten whites and a further ten reds. As for wines from Margaux - the team offer a selection of back vintages of their top wines - a glass of their standout 2001 Chateau Margaux will set you back £135.
If you’re pondering spending this type of money on a few glasses, then a full meal to accompany will set you in good stead. Chef Alexander Baumann cooks a menu of modern European dishes including Brill “en Papillotte” and 28 Day English Rib Eye with bone marrow, truffle with Pommes Frites.
44-46 Cranbourn St, WC2H 7AN
Located directly beneath Leicester Square, Cork & Bottle is a must-visit. This well-kept secret is full of charm, soul and personality - the work of the late Don Hewitson, a larger than life character from New Zealand, first opening in 1972. Don sadly passed away in 2020, however, his legacy has been preserved by Will Clayton who has taken the reins and ensures a careful focus on excellently sourced, well-priced wines.
Wine and food highlights: Every nook and cranny of this tiny space is packed with interesting and esoteric wines. The list comprehensively covers the major wine producing regions, both old world and new, however the Antipodean bias is noticeable with five pages dedicated solely to Australian wine and a further three on New Zealand.
The Cork & Bottle cheese and charcuterie offering is old school but that doesn't stop dishes such as Chicken schnitzel and Duck liver paté from being any less tempting, especially when you're three bottles deep
8-10 Neal's Yard, WC2H 9DP
Hidden in a chic and quiet corner of Covent Garden, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (or CVS for short), brings a Parisian townhouse feel to the London wine bar scene. The wine list here is unsurprisingly French in focus, however the rest of Europe has not been forgotten - to the point that there's also a strong selection of Swiss wines as part of the list.
Wine and food highlights: For those going by the glass there's plenty of choice here - 30 wines priced between £6 - £16 per glass, mainly French and Western Europe. The menu features items you might encounter on a trip to the French capital - charcuterie, French cheese, Croque Madame and Lobster roll if you're feeling fancy.
Speaking of which, for those who have the means to dive deeper into the full list, there are some treasures to be found. Their 400-strong cellar list includes bottles from cult producers such as Coche-Dury, Chateau Rayas, Ganevat , Roulot and Ramonet - all at very reasonable markups. If you're looking to impress a wine snob, this is one of the places to do it...
47 Villiers St, London WC2N 6NE
No review of London wine bars would be complete without including Gordon's. Established in 1890, it is London's oldest wine bar, housed in a building which was home to Samuel Pepys in the 1680's and more recently Rudyard Kipling. The bar occupies a prime space on the bank of the Thames next door to Embankment station. The food is as hearty as it probably always has been and wine is still served in 175ml glasses. Even now, it remains a hive of activity for the post-work crowd.
Wine and food highlights: For a 100 year-old wine bar, the list at Gordon's is varied without being needlessly lengthy, wines are listed by style (Full Bodied Reds, Refreshing White Wines) instead of country. Visitors would be well advised to keep their eyes on the blackboards scattered around the interior of the bar. These carry specials, bin ends and half bottles, many of which aren't listed on the main list. Grab a half bottle of Rioja and head out to the terrace to enjoy some sun.
The owners describe the food at Gordon's as 'traditional and well-priced grub'. This probably isn't the place to get a full meal, but the selection of French and English cheeses, freshly made pies and salads are designed to keep customers from starving whilst they order another round.
16 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NJ
Lady of the Grapes is a wine bar, restaurant and shop in the heart of London’s Covent Garden. Owned and run by Carole Bryon, Lady of the Grapes shines a light on female winemakers. Carole’s aim is to ensure each and every customer has a delightful epicurean experience while supporting female winemakers.
Wine and food highlights: The menu at Lady of the Grapes veers French, featuring a selection of snacks alongside a handful of more substantial dishes. Chef Eliott Buchet has developed a balanced menu which features Courgette flower tempura with honey ricotta and Palourde clams, porcini mushroom and beurre blanc sauce with crispy sage. For those looking to graze, there's a huge choice with 14 varieties of charcuterie and 16 cheeses on offer.
Founder Carole has developed an extensive list which includes gems such as Col fondo Prosecco made by Carolina Gatti, Burgundy white Aligote from Fanny Sabre and a fresh and light Gamay from the Loire producer Levin.
51 Lamb's Conduit St, WC1N 3NB
Does the perfect wine bar exist? A quick whip around of our wine-loving colleagues would suggest that Noble Rot comes pretty close. Since opening in 2015, the Lamb's Conduit Street wine bar & restaurant has garnered a cult following, marking its place as a must-visit for the London wine scene. Whilst the restaurant is back in action, the option to pop by the wine bar for a drink has been sadly curtailed. Given the enduring popularity we'd recommend making a reservation, we're yet to regret deciding to dine here.
The wine list begs some time to be taken to fully appreciate - however their extensive glass list and knowledgeable somm team always manage to make this part particularly enjoyable.
Wine and food highlights: Divided into 75ml and 125ml pours, the Noble Rot glass list allows guests to sip their way to a final decision on what to drink. When you do arrive, the full bottle list is nothing short of a wine lover's dream - a 30-page tome which comprehensively covers the wine world from 'Aligote to Zibibbo'. Whilst this depth might suggest their list is only for those with esoteric tastes and deep pockets - there are some real gems to be unearthed including the Thymiopoulos, Xinomavro Rosé and, if you're in a celebratory mood - a 1994 bottle of Amarone from cult producer Giuseppe Quintarelli.
Much like the wine list, the menu evolves on a daily basis, there are a few unmissable staples which everyone who has been will annoyingly talk about for weeks afterwards. The duck hearts with radicchio and elderberry, smoked eel with celeriac remoulade and smoked butter slipsole will have you doing the same.
28 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 6DJ
Tucked away above the Rupert Street boozer, The Blue Posts, The Mulwray is without question one of the most exciting new wine bars openings of recent years. Palomar Group founders Zoe and Layo Paskin have scooped up star sommelier Honey Spencer to head up this compact but vibrant attic space. Drawing upon deep her experience gleaned popping corks at maverick restaurants and bars including Noma Mexico and Sager & Wilde, Spencer has devised a refreshingly modern perspective.
Wine and food highlights: Alongside Spencer, Sarah Wright and Esme Graham help guests to explore niche varieties from new and exciting regions and less known growers. The adventurous list is divided into chapters - rather than regions and covers old-world classics (Firm Favourites) as well as more adventurous contemporary natural bottlings (Wild + Free). A skin contact Pinot Gris from Slovakian producer Slobodne, Cabernet Franc from Paso Robles' Field Recordings and Pet Nat from Austrian producer Christophe Hochare all on the radar for our next outing.
With an excellent selection of dishes available just two floors below, the food menu at The Mulwray is short and to the point - bar snacks such as Nocellara olives with lime and Szechuan pepper and sourdough and cultured butter is plenty enough to keep the hunger at bay.
88 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3EA
This cosy deli shop cum wine bar in Clerkenwell is an exercise in the clever use of space. Starting its life as a corner deli and butchery, designed to service next door restaurant Quality Chop House, this quiet outpost has been transformed under the guidance of head chef Nick Branham. A showcase of creativity aligned with a knowledge of the way that people want to eat now, the daily evolving menu is matched with an enviable collection of wines - which in our eyes makes this one of the hottest tables in town.
Wine and food highlights: Through a snappy menu of seasonal dishes and cult snacks, Branham’s menu has given Quality Wines its own cult following. Every week, Nick writes out a new menu on the blackboard typically inspired by the fresh seasonal produce which is also sold during the day in the deli. Must-try dishes include the house focaccia, the ‘Gilda’, their Pig Fat cannoli and plates of Italian coppa.
Wines by the glass change daily and bottles can be purchased from the shelves plus a £15 ‘drink in’ corkage fee. For those looking for a few glasses, rest assured - there’s always something fizzy, something orange as well as whites and reds ready to pour.
124 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 6PG
Located on a quiet street towards the northern end of Fitzrovia, The Remedy is an intimate neighbourhood wine bar run by two friends with a serious passion for food and wine. First opening in 2015, the team have created a quirky space which is reminiscent of Marais wine bars found on similarly proportioned streets across Paris.
The name, a cheeky nod to medicinal cures of yore also hints at the owners' approach to showcasing wines made with care in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellars, which for anyone who's had the pleasure of visiting, will attest that the team do with great passion.
Wine and food highlights: Founder Renato's insatiable curiosity sees that The Remedy's wine list is updated weekly - and with an average of 20 wines available by the glass, this constant evolution means that a return visit is never out of the question. Highlights from their current selection include German Mosel Riesling from Clemens Busch, a skin contact Chenin Blanc from South African maverick Craig Hawkins and a sought after Beaujolais cru Morgon from Marcel Lapierre.
With a tiny downstairs kitchen space, The Remedy have always maintained a decidedly simple food offering - although dishes such as Heirloom Tomato Salad and Taglioni Cacio e Pepe alongside cheese and charcuterie boards draws no complaints from our side.
41a Farringdon St, London EC4A 4AN
Opened in 2014 and run by the ever-effervescent John Baum, the venue has attracted a loyal following of locals and professionals from the surrounding areas of St Paul's and Chancery Lane. The list is built to showcase the 26 producers whose wine The Winemakers Club exclusively imports. As per John's experience, the focus hovers around Italian and Hungarian producers, but also includes bottles from small family growers with an emphasis on small-production, organic and low intervention wines.
Wine and food highlights: The list here is ever-changing, showcasing both wines they import and rounded out by further bottles from their peers in the wine trade. For those drinking at the bar, a flat £14 corkage is added to the retail price listed on each bottle with around 20 bottles priced between £30 - £50. Those who have some flexibility in their working hours should visit between 12 and 4pm where no corkage is charged.
To eat there's all of the staples one could wish for, Coombeshead Farm bread, Raclette Cheese Toastie with optional Mortadella and a plate of seasonal French and British cheeses.
Subscribe to hear the latest from Hot Dinners