Bar Crispin

Collections

Hattie Lloyd 26/02/24


Your Natural Wine Bar Bucket List

If you haven’t tried natural wine yet, then consider this a (minimal) intervention.

It’s the umbrella term for the growing trend in winemaking to just, well, let the grapes get on with it. There are the organic wines (no pesticides or creepy chemicals), the biodynamic wines (where grapes are grown in blissful harmony with natural cycles and the rest of the farmland), and the low-intervention wines (not adding a load of extra stuff to the fermentation process). In short, they’re all practices that make far less of an environmental impact, and just so happen to make wines that are extremely delicious, too.

These days London is furnished with a bounty of natural wine-focussed bars, stocked with cool and interesting bottles from small producers and up-and-coming growers. Here are the ones to cross off your bucket list…

Bar Crispin | Soho

Bar Crispin is wedged into that excessively busy stretch of Kingly Street, where punters spill out onto the street and the city gets a distinctly European vibe. A wine-focussed spin-off of the casual Spitalfields restaurant, BC eschews the classic wine bar aesthetic of bare brick walls and candlelit alcoves. Instead, the interiors are a cross between grown-up kebab joint and a giant backgammon board, with mauve zig-zags running round the walls and high, zinc-topped tables. Sommelier Alex Price is behind the all-natural wine list here, with an emphasis on French regions as well as wines hailing from the volcanic soils of Greece and Tenerife. And it all comes with a neat menu of European tapas from Casa Fofò‘s Fabien Spagnolo, from native oysters to pig’s head croquettes.

Details: 19 Kingly St, London W1B 5PY | Book here

107 Wine Shop & Bar | Clapton

If 107 looks awfully familiar – almost like, say, P.Franco – that’s because it is P.Franco, reborn under a different alias. The beloved Clapton wine bar closed in March 2023, but after a brief and successful crowdfund is now open again, in the space under the old red and yellow Chinese supermarket sign, albeit with a changed name. Inside you’ll still find that five-star assemblage of natural wines (with an Old World focus, where many are chosen and assessed after the staff have flown to the vineyards to personally meet the growers themselves) and the kitchen residencies are trickling back in for dinner service; currently Mitchell Damota, whose fresh pasta making expertise has been nurtured at Burro e Salvia in Shoreditch. 

Details: 107 Lower Clapton Rd, E5 0NP | Walk ins only, more info on their Instagram

Firebird | Soho

firebird restaurant soho

Flame-kissed Firebird is easily one of our top restaurants in Soho – the mood is sultry, the service is stellar, and their sweet, perfectly-charred halloumi is the kind of dish you’ll find yourself returning for. But the more relaxed bar area at the front of the restaurant is a great little place to keep up your sleeve for the next time you’re in central London and fancy a few glasses with a couple of dishes on the side. Firebird co-founder Anna Dolgushina is a trained sommelier, and here she’s put together a mostly European list of natural wines including Danish fizz, Georgian rosé, and a peppery Handcrafted Gruner Veltliner that’s a favourite of specialist bottle shops across the city.

Details: 29 Poland Street, W1F 8QR | Book here

Cave Cuvée | Bethnal Green

Highbury’s beloved natural wine bar and restaurant Top Cuvée spawned this East London spin-off that’s all about the wine. Upstairs is a bottle shop (Shop Cuvée), selling hands-down one of the best selections of natural wine in the city. Downstairs is a stripped back subterranean bar and restaurant, also serving up some serious natural wines, as well as cocktails designed by the fellas over at award-winning cocktail bar Three Sheets. The team really know their stuff, and run twice-monthly tasting nights alongside introductions to the world of low-intervention vino. For eats you’ll find a number of simple, ingredient-led small plates: dry aged beef tartare or terrines du jour, as well as some really delicious, locally-sourced cured meats and cheeses to compliment the wine.

Details: 250a Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AA | Book here

Lady of the Grapes | Covent Garden

natural wine London Lady of the Grapes

A central London wine bar that combines old-school charm with forward-thinking brio. The interiors are all cosy Parisian wine bar – battered vintage furnishings, pendant lighting fashioned from old wine bottles, crates propped up in every corner. But the wine list is right at the cutting edge, celebrating organic and natural wines, around 80% of which come from female winemakers. You can read a little bio of each grower in the 100-strong menu – which spans from red to white, sparkling to fortified, and includes about 15 available by the glass at any one time. It’s also one of the best spots for fondue in London, with 250g of molten cheese to dip into with an abundance of crusty bread and charcuterie.

Details: 16 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NJ Book here

Hop Burns & Black | Peckham & Deptford

Hop Burns & Black - things to do in Peckham

The hop: craft beer. The burns: mercilessly hot sauces. The black: artisan coffee. The unmentioned: a meticulously sourced collection of natural, organic and biodynamic wines, available to buy by the bottle and either take home or sample on a picnic table outside as the sun goes down. They also run an excellent monthly subscription service, ‘Natural Wine Killers’, and stock over 100 of their favourites online, too.

Details: 38 East Dulwich Road, London, SE22 9AX | No bookings

dan’s | Dalston

dans natural wine bar dalston

dan’s comes to you from Dan Long, who’s spent years in Oz learning the, er, vines of the wine industry. When the pandemic hit, he launched the online wine shop Natty Boy Wines, and now he’s opened a bricks and mortar spot in Dalston where he’s stocking all 600+ bottles IRL. You can pick one up to take home or drink in for £15 corkage, or peruse the ‘by the glass’ list that he personally picks out each week…

Details: 2-4 Tottenham Road, Dalston, N1 4BZ | No bookings, just turn up

Joyau | Forest Gate

joyau natural wine bar

If you have dreams of travelling through France and dropping into vineyards that – despite creating a comprehensive Instagram wishlist – haven’t quite come to fruition yet, head to Joyau in the meantime. The owners have just returned from their own tour of the country, and have brought back all their favourite bottles with them – and now they’re uncorking them in an intimate railway arch wine bar with a suntrap terrace in Forest Gate.

Details: 353 Winchelsea Road, London, E7 0AQ | No bookings

40 Maltby Street | Bermondsey

natural wine London 40 Maltby Street

A true London classic, tucked into an old railway arch off Maltby Street market. This is partly the warehouse of organic wine importers Gergovie Wines; partly an industrial but cosy wine bar and restaurant, where hand-picked bottles beautifully complement the regularly-changing, seasonal, European-styled menu, scrawled daily onto a blackboard behind the dining counter. Buzzy, warm, and serious about wine.

Details: 40 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA | No bookings

The Sourcing Table | Peckham & Crystal Palace

Relatively new kids on the block, The Sourcing Table has settled into London’s natural wine bar scene with the air of an old-timer pro. They’ve gone for the jugular with their collection, housing over 400 approachable (clean, only sometimes funky) wines, which you can either drink by the glass or by the bottle with a flat corkage fee. Once you’ve made your decision, take your new discovery to Peckham’s front patio – the perfect pairing for seeing out sunny days.

Details: 184 Bellenden Road, SE15 4BW | 67 Westow Hill, Crystal Palace, SE19 1TS | No bookings

Peckham Cellars | Peckham

Peckham Cellars

Peckham Cellars was set up by a group of self-confessed ‘wine fanatics’, fronted by former 28-50 sommelier Ben McVeigh. He’s spent the past decade drinking studying wine, and is now well-versed in the subtleties of terroir and the fermentation process. That said, the whole gang are up on their wine game, too, and the result is a ~150-strong hand-picked collection of bottles, not all of which are natural, but which are all sourced from small-scale producers and made with love. Stop by for a glass or two, and you can always load up with some of fantastic Mediterranean-inspired food, too. They also run a great wine subscription service, as well as regular tastings and other events.

Details: 125 Queen’s Road, SE15 2ND | Book here

Hector’s | Dalston

Hector's

Everything’s just peachy at Hector’s, even the walls. It’s a bottle-shop, wine bar and cafe from Jimmy Stephenson (Hill and Szrok) and Anna Shaffer (the actor of Harry Potter and The Witcher fame). They serve Climpson coffee, pastries, and crispy Spanish bocadillos by day, and wine and European small plates by night – think Cantabrian anchovies soaked in olive oil and sprinkled with rose petals, or pig’s head terrine with cornichons. The natural wine library encompasses an impressive 300+ bottles, ranging from the ‘crowd-pleasers’ to ‘some absolute oddities’. It’s the type of place you could spend a whole evening, where the lights are low and the windows steam and you keep finding a reason not to go home.

Details: 49a Ardleigh Road, N1 4HS | No bookings

Joyce | Brockley

natural wine london joyce

Joyce is the spin-off bar from Brockley’s Salthouse Bottles, perfectly balancing knowledgeably-curated wine lists with a laid-back sense of fun (read: there are hula hoops on the snack menu). The bottles mostly hail from lesser-known wine-producing regions in Europe (including old Blighty), backed up with a selection of London-made vermouths and cocktails put together with small-batch indie spirits.

Details: 294 Brockley Road, SE4 2RA Book here

Forza Wine | Peckham

Forza Wine rooftop bar

Why do you go here? Forza wine, of course. It’s all natural, mainly French and Italian, and with quite a few available on tap or by the litre. Handy for when you want to bed in and watch the whole sunset from this Peckham perch, with a little burrata, mussels with ‘Nduja or deep-fried polenta on the side. Plus a coffee soft serve to get you back down the stairs at the end of the night.

Details: 5th Floor, The Market, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST | No bookings

Binch | Hackney

Just as the Inuit have over 50 words for snow, the French have over 50 words for wine, and binch is one of them. It’s a cosy little neighbourhood bar by London Fields run by one enthusiastic Frenchman, who’s combined his passion for both small-producer wines and offbeat craft beers into one packed-out little spot. It doubles as a bottle shop, so if the weather’s decent you can always take something to go and enjoy en plein air

Details: 51 Greenwood Road, London, E8 1NT No bookings

Yield N1 & N16 | Highbury & Stoke Newington

A laid-back bottle shop and wine bar, Yield in Highbury (N1) and Stoke Newington (N16) bolsters its mainly European booze selection with a load of other fancy pantry goods to take home with you, including Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses and Pump Street chocolate. But if you want to stay in, there’s romantic seating tucked up at the back, and picnic tables out the front, where you can pop open any bottle you like for a corkage fee of £15, or just order something off their menu of top picks that week.

Details: 97 St Pauls Road, Islington, London, N1 2NA | 44-45 Newington Green, London N16 9PX Walk-ins only

Aspen & Meursault | Battersea

As anyone who’s hashed out the meaning of life with a friend over a bottle of red will tell you, wine and philosophy make good partners. Sunny Hodge’s ‘no BS’ wine bars make that official. He’s designed them as ‘thinking bars’, hoping to demystify the world of wine and get people to question why we choose things we don’t understand. The sophomore branch in Battersea is dedicated entirely to natural wines, spanning from Welsh to Czech ice wines, and even includes Hodges’ own Puglian red & white (bring the bottle back, and you can get it refilled for a tenner).

Details: 96 Westbridge Road, SW11 3PH | Book here

Elliot’s | Borough & Hackney

Elliot's, best natural wine bars in London

Elliot’s is all about low-intervention. In fact, their original café is right opposite Borough Market, so that the produce they use in their dishes is as fresh as possible. They take a similar approach to their wine list, which is curated by Isabelle Legeron – a ‘crusader for the natural wine movement’ who founded the global RAW WINE festival series. If anyone knows their natural wines, it’s her, and you can find her top picks on the menus at both the original Elliot’s in Borough and its Hackney sibling.

Details: 12 Stoney Street, London SE1 9AD | 121-123 Mare St, London E8 4RH | Book here

Furanxo | Dalston

Furanxo wine bar

By day, it’s an authentic Spanish bodega and deli, with legs of jamón dangling from the ceiling, jewel-coloured tins of canned sardines, and cheese imported directly from top-quality, small-scale producers in Spain. But when trading hours are over, the place becomes a candlelit natural wine & tapas bar. Pull up a stool to the marble counters and try out their favourites by the glass, over dishes made with the best ingredients in store that day.

Details: 85 Dalston Lane, London E8 2NG | No bookings

Next Door Records | Shepherd’s Bush

A hip West London hangout that does a roaring trade in the holy trinity of Good Stuff: coffee, vinyl, and natural wines. Swing by in the day to pick up a record or a bottle of something nice, stay in the evening to lap up the guest DJs, live gigs and candlelit wine-swilling. Keep an eye out for their supperclub takeovers, and events like quiz night where a bottle of pet nat is only the second place prize…

Details: 304 Uxbridge Rd, London W12 7LJ | Book here

Newcomer Wines | Hackney

Newcomer Wines

Wien is a great place for wine. And if you can’t get there, then Newcomer Wines is the next best thing, with a selection focussed on Austrian grape-hooch. What is that, exactly? Well, mostly some nice dry whites, but the offering’s rounded out with their picks from further afield, plus a curated French collection by Kiffe My Wines. There’s an ever-changing selection available by the glass each day – prop up the chrome-topped bar if you want to pick their brains, or take a pew in their back garden for the perfect post-work wind-down spot.

Details: 5 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF No bookings

Highbury Library | Highbury

highbury library

Offering all the wackiness of natural wine and none of the pretentiousness, Highbury Library is a laid-back, pared-back natural wine and craft beer bar right by the Emirates Stadium. This not only makes it a handy spot for a pre-match bev, but also a useful nightcap spot when you’ve hit one of Islington’s excellent restaurants and feel in urgent need of a skin-contact Sauvignon Blanc accompanied by a vinyl soundtrack. Which is often.

Details: 66a Drayton Park, London, N5 1ND | Book via [email protected]

Carousel | Fitzrovia

carousel wine bar

Carousel’s known for bringing in a different wünderchef from around the world each week. But as part of their move to bigger digs in Fitzrovia, they’ve also unveiled a more permanent side to the operation. The wine bar here is a relaxed, open space with whitewashed brick walls, terrazzo flooring and some real flattering lighting. The walls are lined with over 100 bottles of low-intervention wine, with Carousel’s restaurant manager (and natural wine buff) Gigi Isola on hand to help you make good choices. Chef and co-owner Ollie Templeton is behind the menu of excellent sharing dishes, like steamed mussels with artichoke and samphire, or delica pumpkin with black trumpet mushroom and sage – all inspired by some of the greatest guest dishes that have passed through Carousel’s doors over the years.

Details: 19-23 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1RL Book here

 


At this point, it seems prudent to take a look at the best places for cheese in London too…