Meeting friends after work? You’ll need a wine bar for that. First date? Wine bar. Breaking up? Wine bar. Job interview? Wine bar. Sacking an employee? Wine bar. Meeting with underworld contacts to plan an intricate and finely timed bank heist? Wine bar. It’s difficult to think of any event that wouldn’t be better in a wine bar. Maybe, just maybe, an AA meeting. Otherwise, it’s wine bar all the way. So here are some wine bar suggestions specially for you; good luck with the bank robbery…
They know a thing or two about wine, the Italians, after all they’ve been making it since the time of the romans. And thanks to BOTTLES (all caps very much not a typo, I’m afraid) there’s a place to get your taste buds around some Italian flavours from the wine bar’s extensive collection, specialising in sustainable, independent, organic and bio-dynamic producers in the country.
Where: Old Spitalfields Market, 67 Brushfield Street, E1 6AA
If you thought that someone with two degrees was clever, then these guys will stun you; they’ve got 22, welcome to 28º-50º Wine Workshop & Kitchen! The traditional wine bar offers a choice of over 30 different wines each night, enjoyed on the terrace, weather permitting, paired with excellent food prepared by their executive chefs. Stop in for tastings, workshopped or themed dinners showcasing their European menus. What’s more, it’s from the same folks that brought us Texture, a Handbook favourite, so there’s literally no reason to not visit.
Where: 15-17 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2NE
When is a shop not a shop? When it’s also a wine bar between Thursdays and Saturdays. Stoke Newington’s Furanxo makes the Clark Kent-like transformation each week with wines chosen by Xabier Alvarez, co-founder and sommelier at nearby Trangallan restaurant. The concept is inspired by the traditional ultramarino shop, or abacerías, found all over Spain’s Galicia and Andalucía region.
Where: 85 Dalston Lane, E8 2NG
South Africa produces some of the new world’s best wine, and Hammer & Tongs makes some of London’s best barbecued South African food, so how perfect to marry the two? Which is exactly what they’ve done over at The Protea Wine Bar. Hidden beneath their Farringdon restaurant it promises to be more stellar than Stellenbosch with an exquisite selection of South African wines and the added advantage of some excellent braai-cooked meats.
Where: 171 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3AL, UK
Nearest station: Farringdon (London) (0.4 miles)
Whats on the walls couldn’t matter less as we stare into our wine glasses at The Whitechapel Refectory. The gallery’s answer to nightlife the cafe turns into a snazzy wine bar on Thursday nights, with options varying from ‘light to heavy sips’ and covering all the price range bases. The charcuterie boards should be obligatory, as you do whatever the East London version of ‘quaffing’ is to the beat of a DJ set.
Where: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX
Sure, we all love an Australian wine, but how about the other down under, Austria? (down under Germany, that is). With a slightly less laid-back vibe than the country it shares all its letters with, the landlocked European nation still produces a pretty fine wine, and Newcomer Wines showcases them along with over 250 wines from Austria and it’s neighbouring countries.
Where: 5 Dalston Lane, Dalston, E8 3DF
Covent Garden’s The 10 Cases brings a wine focused bistrot experience to central London. The key gimmick here is the fact that they limit themselves to just 10 cases of white, of red, of sparkling, rosé and sweet wines. No wine has been on the list twice and there are just 10 tables. The accompaning food is to a remarkably high quality, making this a memorable stop-off on any wine bar crawl, while remaining affordable and, by and large, unpretentious.
Where: 16 Endell St, Covent Garden WC2H 9BD
The bar is quite literally made out of pavement at Sager + Wilde, a very Hoxton’s take on the wine bar. The exposed brick interior makes way for wine behind the bar with a wine list changing daily and an excellent line in cheese toastie to soak up the alcohol.
Where: 193 Hackney Road, Hoxton, E2 8JL
The Providores & Tapa Room features a reastuarant (The Providers) upstairs and, down, The Tapa Room, a wine bar with the most extensive range of New Zealand vineyards of any restaurant in Europe. Quite a claim, but if Antipodean eating is your thing then you need to head down to this wine bar. Not a vegemite sandwich in sight.
Where: 109 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, W1U 4RX
Abbreviate (abriev. surely?) Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels and you get CVS (Seven Dials). CVS Seven Dials exists as a wine bar and restaurant from the same people that brought us the Experimental Cocktail Club, making it an ideal date-night (pretty interiors) and from a vino perspective (rosé coloured spectacles!) over 400 bottles of wine to work through. The great food is by-the-by!
Where: 8-10 Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP
If you thought upstairs was impressive, then you need to head below street level to check out the cellars (not as Fred West as it sounds). Once the wine cellars of Prince of Wales, you enter the wine bar at 116 through a pair of impressive iron gates that served as the original cellar doors. With vaulted ceilings and exposed brickwork, the space is filled with character. And despite being a wine bar, they also have ales and a dedicated gin menu, so something for everyone.
Where: 116 Pall Mall, Westminster, London, SW1Y 5ED, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Charing Cross (0.3 miles)
After humble beginnings, Humble Grape now boasts wine bars in Fleet Street, Battersea, Canary Wharf and Islington with a winning laid-back vibe (except in Fleet Street, where things are bigger and slicker), encouraging you to experiment by the glass, bottle or carafe. The wines can be paired with small plates and there’s always a wine tasting on, giving guests the chance to learn from the pros.
Where: Battersea and Fleet Street
Yes, there’s something suspicious dripping from the ceiling and into your glass, and you’re basically in a catacomb like it’s Pompeii the day of the eruption, but this is a special experience. The magic of London’s oldest wine bar, Gordon’s, is undeniable, carved into the cave-like cellars, the candlelit interior oozes with character, as well as condensation.
Where: 47 Villiers St, Embankment, WC2N 6NE
Brixton might not sound like a natural place for something as luxurious or genteel as a parlour, but when combined with ‘wine’ we’re all ears. Minimalist décor and fairy lights make this an attractive wine bar and a south London wine-drinking gem, if you can get a seat that is.
Where: 1 & 3 Vining Street, Brixton, SW9 8QA
Trafalgar Square and Dulwich now have more in common than just the 148 bus, and it’s terroiriffic. Terriors, with a branch just off Trafalgar Square and another in East Dulwich, is a cosy spot to indulge in cheese, charcuterie and a great bottle of wine.
Where: 5 William IV Street, Charing Cross, WC2N 4DW
Pretty much the remedy for any ailment (strike off sorosis of the liver), wine bar Remedy, in the heart of Fitzrovia, is an ideal wine bar for anyone passing through. And if wine’s not your bag (in which case, why are you reading this?), then the coffee and food more than make up for it!
Where: 124 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 6PG
A sibling to Hackney’s Noble Fine Liquor, p.franco has been so successful that they’ve now opened another couple of bars. With a wine bar that vibes like you’re drinking round your mates’ house, the communal feel is unbeatable, as is the wine selection and dining menu.
Where: 107 Lower Clapton Road, Lower Clapton, E5 0NP
There’s no reason to poo-poo this wine bar, because it’s no longer an underground toilet but a wine bar. The self-consciously cool venue serves up a great combo of charcuterie and an ever-changing and eclectic mix of old and new world wines. Having performed it’s previous function for over 100 years, it turns out its talent was being wasted!
Where: Clapham Common South Side, Clapham, SW4 7AA
There’s nothing rotten in the state of Holborn dining. Noble Rot is a food and drink magazine and, displaying a surprisingly multi-talented repertoire, a restaurant and wine bar as well. If The Handbook ever gets our scotch egg stall off the ground, we couldn’t hope to reach the heights of Noble Rot. Setting aside the wisdom of including the word ‘rot’ in the name of a restaurant, the wine list is understandably one of the best in town, while the Franglaise menu includes greatest hits from both countries which are, obviously, carefully matched to just the right wines.
Where: 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 3NB
Forget ‘and Boston’ because we’re only interested in 68. The ground floor of 68 and Boston is a highly Insta-friendly wine bar (upstairs is cocktails) and serves 45 different wines by the glass.
Where: 5 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4DD
Imagine a vending machine, but for wines. And without your packet of Wotsits getting stuck in the conveyor. You get your own card which you top up with credit (I’m convinced the business model includes guests forgetting to empty their cards), you pop your card in the machine and key in the wine you want to sample. Sounds gimmicky, but really it isn’t, plus they even have a wine club.
Where: Various Across London