By Jack Peat, TLE Editor
London is one of only a few truly global markets for wine. Négociants from Old World territories have been sailing wine by the case for several centuries and New World varieties have found fertile ground amongst the city’s liberal taste and worldly cuisines.
Which is why it is no surprise that the city is home to an array of brilliant and varied wine bars.
From new-age bars in Chelsea to dated, traditional vaults in Greenwich, the London wine scene is pulsating with a unique blend of the new and the old.
To help you find the best the city has to offer, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 wine bars. Enjoy, and as always, drink responsibly.
Gordon’s Wine Bar, Embankment
Gordon’s Wine Bar is a regular haunt for city workers and a great find for tourists. Serving wine and only wine, the old underground cellars open up to a long patio of wooden casts supporting umbrellas where many an eve can be spent nursing a bottle with ample cheese and bread portions. Claiming to be London’s oldest wine bar (dating back to 1890) the vaults that lay a stone’s throw from both Charing Cross and Embankment stations are a wonderful way to watch the evening pass by.
Davy’s Wine Vaults, Greenwich
Nestled behind Greenwich mainline railway station, the Wine Vaults are my pick of the Davy’s collection. Established in 1972 it now stocks more than 100 different wines from around the World. The food tops off the experience with a delicious menu of canapes, snacks and appetisers on offer. If you can get down on a Sunday you will be treated to the dulcet tones of live jazz as you knock back a bottle or two and work your way through the mouthwatering menu.
Le Beaujolais, Covent Garden
There’s something about Le Beaujolais that makes me feel like a gangster. The small Soho establishment occupies a number of round tables where punters huddle round glasses of wine and bar meals. Downstairs, a restaurant Club is operates as a private member’s only institution where membership can only be obtained exclusively by invitation. But give the Al Pacino act a rest and this is a rather pleasant establishment. I would recommend trying a few of the less well-known Beaujolais wines a go.
Ashbee’s Wine Bar, Earls Court
Simple but effective, Ashbee’s Wine Bar offers a quiet space to drink with friends with an extensive list of wines. The bohemian owners will likely drink as much wine as you do as you on any given evening, but as eccentric owner Elizabetta informed me, on a good night the doors only close when you want to go home.
The Fulham Wine Rooms, Fulham
The Fulham Wine Rooms champions one simple principle: “Wine and all that is enjoyable around wine: good food, good friends and good conversation.” Based near trendy Parsons Green the wine bar come restaurant offers an extensive selection of wine paired with well sourced food that is cooked simply. The list is comprehensive, but the selection of sample wines is particularly impressive; 48 at any one time. If you find a particular favourite, all wines are available at take-out prices for home consumption.
Vivat Bacchus, Farringdon
Vivat Bacchus is one of London’s most extensive and innovatively run wine bars. Features such as ‘Winery of the Month’ and a comprehensive ‘Glassworthy’ selection make it a wine enthusiast’s heaven, with a Wine Club running every Monday exploring food pairing and a host of wine varieties and regions.
Wine Pantry, Borough Market
English wine has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance of late, and so it is fitting that a wine bar has popped up amidst the hustle and bustle of Borough Market to celebrate the excellent wines produced at home in the UK. The small shop come sampling bar houses an enomatic wine dispenser for tasting and a range of UK-only wines which can be consumed in the market or bagged up to take home.
Vinoteca has a number of wine bars scattered around the capital, but my personal favourite is its Marylebone outlet. The list of 285 wines reflects a passion for smaller producers, with staff well informed to help you navigate the list as you mull over a food menu that changes with the seasons.
Cork and Bottle Wine Bar, Covent Garden
It may not look much from the outside, but this little Covent Garden beauty is a great find. The entrance quickly loops down into cosy vaults with wooden tables scattered across the room. Come the evening, the place is buzzing with chit-chat as a range of exquisite cheeses are dished out to complement an intriguing wine list.
The Winemakers Club, Farringdon
The Winemakers Club has been importing and selling wines for over 15 years from regions as diverse as Hungary and with a big focus on smaller, more diverse producers who are challenging convention and innovating. In 2014 they made a home under Holborn Viaduct and now house a bar where you can drink wine by the glass and by the bottle. Sixteen diverse wines are available to taste and try at any one time, with small plates of cheese, olives, meats available to complement your selection.