The Best Wine Bars In London
Last Updated: 9th August 2019 | Main image: WC
Nothing beats a great glass of wine.
Trust us, vino.
Especially when that glass of wine comes to you from the team behind Michelin-star winner Barrafina, in an impeccably designed converted railway arch in King’s Cross; or a Clapton-based wine-shop and bar, alongside food from a rotating list of some of London’s best chefs.
Whether you find yourself pre or post a trip to Whitechapel Gallery, or wandering along the river parched and in need of a drink, there’s not just a good, but a great wine bar near by. We know because we went ahead and tried them all on your behalf, before listing what we believe to be the crème de la crème – the best wine bars in London – below.
P Franco | Clapton
Let’s P Franco: this Clapton-based wine bar and bodega might just be London’s best. Once simply a great place to pick up a quick bottle on your way out, or to go for a relaxed drink with friends before dinner elsewhere, it quickly transformed into one of the most sought-out places to eat in the city, thanks to the new manager and a handful of London’s most talented chefs. It all started in 2015 when William Gleave (head chef at what was one of Australia’s best restaurants at the time, Garagistes) took over the kitchen, which still to this day totals two induction hobs. Suddenly, under the glow of low-hanging pendant lighting, propped up on a stool at the one communal wooden table, you could enjoy an array of seasonal small plates with your wine. Since then, the place has hosted ex-Clove Club chef Tim Spedding and Anna Tobias (former head chef at Rochelle Canteen). It’s now the turn of Túbo Logier who continues to keep the queue long – but you’ll be in soon enough, so there’s really very little to wine about.
Address: 107 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP | READ MORE
Winemakers Club | Farringdon
This one’s a big cellar… Seriously. It served as a wine cellar for merchants like Oddbin’s for over 150 years. More recently however it’s been taken over by a very friendly John Baum, who uses the space as his office, warehouse, and tasting room by day; before lighting a few candles and offering it up as a moody, subterranean drinking den come night. You’ll find it in the rather musty Victorian archways below Holborn Viaduct, where, for just £12 corkage, John will happily help you pick out a suitable bottle of wine, whether that’s something cheap and cheerful, or something a little older and rarer from his own private collection. Plus there’s food – locally-sourced cheeses and charcuterie, both of which make for pretty big sellers too.
Address: 41a Farringdon Street, EC4A 4AN | FIND OUT MORE
Humble Grape | Battersea, various
A visit to a wine bar can often leave you feeling a little merlot… As if picking a colour isn’t hard enough, you then have to pick a country, and a grape, and all in about twenty-three seconds before the waiter starts rolling their eyes. Not at Humble Grape, however. Instead their aim is to make wine more approachable and enjoyable for everyone. No question is a stupid question, something you’ll quickly learn from their knowledgeable yet utterly forgiving staff. Instead you’re encouraged to ask who, what, and why as you see fit, all of which they’ll do their best to answer in a friendly, digestible way. Alternatively, if you’re already sure about the kind of thing you’re after, they’ll happily just point you towards a glass or bottle amongst their 400-odd on sale, most of which are from relatively unknown vineyards around the world. Should you get peckish they have a variety of snacks, small plates, and big plates, as well as charcuterie and cheese on offer. And on top of all that, they offer a number of fun, laid-back wine-tastings, as well as weekly offers. There’s Retail Monday where you can pick any glass of wine and pay take-away prices whilst enjoying it in; live music Wednesdays; and Icon Wine Thursday and Fridays, where you can drink all of the best wines usually sold in bottles, by the glass, and lots of it. What can we say: one of the best wine bars in London.
Address: 2 Battersea Rise, SW11 1ED | READ MORE
The Drop | King’s Cross
If one drop is worth naming your bar after, just imagine what a full bottle is like. This one’s brought to you by the minds behind queues-out-the-door, Michelin starred tapas joint Barrafina, as well as what’s now become three buzzing mezcal and taco spots: El Pastor, Tortilleria El Pastor, and Casa Pastor. This time around, however, they’ve decided to switch their focus over to wine, which they’ve hand-picked from around the world and serve here both by the bottle and the glass, alongside a concise menu of British fare. And all from a beautifully converted railway arch in King’s Cross – glass-fronted, exposed brick walls, low hanging pendant lighting, and jet black counter tops – it’s been known to cause a few jaws to drop.
Address: Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AB | READ MORE
Lady Of The Grapes | Covent Garden
According to the patriarchy women are known to wine…*rolls eyes at the patriarchy.* Although there is one type of wine they should quite rightly be known for: the grape kind, which is exactly what petite, candle-lit, Covent Garden-based wine bar Lady Of The Grapes hopes to make happen. Their aim is to shine a light on female wine-makers in what is currently a very male dominated environment. They have a range of around 15 wines by the glass and 100 by the bottle – but don’t let that intimidate you because they also have plenty of know-their-stuff staff on hand to guide you through them. They also offer a few nibbles: charcuterie, cheese, and/or…melted cheese. There’s melted camembert with caramelised onion, hazelnuts, and rosemary; potatoes, pancetta and cornichons, with melted truffle raclette; and cheese fondue – 250g of melted cheeses with an abundance of crusty bread.
Address: 16 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NJ | READ MORE
Sager + Wilde | Bethnal Green
Michael Sager and Charlotte Wilde are who you have to thank for this low-lit, exposed-brick, uber cool-in-a-not-trying-to-be-cool-trying-to-be-laid-back-making-it-cooler kind of way. You’ll find it perched on the corner of Hackney Road where – returning home from a stint in California, and no longer able to get their hands on their favourite wines – they decided to set up shop, bringing their favourite grapes from the golden state to London. Alongside a selection of simple small plates, they offer a daily-changing wine menu with options both by the bottle and the glass. They also do a number of pretty cool Meet The Maker nights, where you can go along and drink wine in a relaxed setting, with the winemakers on hand to answer any questions you might have. (Yes, that includes ‘please can I have more wine’.)
Address: 193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL | READ MORE
After Hours | Whitechapel
It’s a two-bird-one-stone-chic-daytime-eatery-turns-late-night-wine-bar, brought to you by no other than the team behind 10 Greek Street and 8 Hoxton Square. By day it’s Whitechapel Refectory, serving up sandwiches, salads, and a few hot dishes, as well as freshly baked cakes, as the café to the Whitechapel Gallery (which offers an ever-changing programme of art, films, and talks, that all go deliciously with cake). However, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings – with the help of some great wines, a few nibbles, the odd masterclass, and a DJ – the same wood-panelled space morphs into After Hours, perfect for a weekend or post-work drink, chat, and general good time.
Address: 193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL | READ MORE
Gordon’s Wine Bar | Embankment
Both one of the best wine bars in London and the oldest, a place where the real-life Rudyard Kipling would kick back and swill Sancerre. You’ll find it off a side street near Embankment where, on arrival, you’ll descend into a small network of musty, candle-lit tunnels filled with dark wood tables and chairs. And plenty of wine. Cheese, of course, is a given (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). In fact, there are over twenty cheeses to choose from, all of which are served with fresh bread, butter, and pickles; as well as a number of other pick-y dishes; tapas in the evening; and an outstanding Sunday roast.
Address: 47 Villiers St, WC2N 6NE | READ MORE
WC Clapham | Clapham
In anyone tells you this place isn’t good, Clap’em. See, it’s not just good, it’s really good, and here follow the reasons why: 1) It’s housed in a converted Edwardian public toilet; 2) The owners are partial to some word play: WC = Wine And Charcuterie; 3) It’s underground; 4) It’s beautifully designed, including individual drinking booths draped with velvet curtains; 5) They offer a simple but delicious food menu, including baked Camembert with garlic, rosemary & toasted sourdough; 6) Their wine menu is small, which definitely feels less intimidating. It’s also constantly changing in case you fancy this being your new lifetime haunt; 7) They have live gigs with up-and-coming acts every Sunday and Monday; during which 8) You can politely self-induce a cheese and wine coma if any of them are are bad.
Address: Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AA | READ MORE
Renegade London Wine | Bethnal Green
It’s an East London-based urban winery with an aim to create great, small-batch wines and sell them all over the city. And also to get a dog. It’s housed in a white tin railway arch in Bethnal Green, which they’ve strung with multi-coloured bunting, before opening it up to the public Wednesday-Sunday. Of course their own wine’s on offer, as well as a handful of others, and if you get peckish they have cheese platters, or they’ll let you order your own delivery should you prefer. They also allow mutts, which if you have one, you should definitely bring – not just for the free hugs and companion for the way home, but because if you do they’ll give you a discount. Fur real.
Address: Arch 12, Gales Gardens, E2 0EJ | FIND OUT MORE
Noble Rot | Bloomsbury
Now, we know what you’re thinking – Noble Rot’s a magazine, and of course you’re right. However, what was once only a beautifully designed thumb-through, set up by friends Mark Andrew and Dan Keeling to quench their long-term love of wine, is now also a real-life London wine bar. It’s in Bloomsbury – Lamb’s Conduit Street, to be exact – where you’ll recognise it by its grape-coloured exterior. Inside is a low-lit, industrial grey, dark wood situation where you can either walk in or book yourself a table to drink wine, eat, and chat; or just drink and chat; or eat and chat; or any other possible combination. The wine list is looooong, including both ‘The World’s Greatest White Wine’ and ‘The Heartbreak Grape’, whilst the food is an expertly curated menu of ‘Franglais’ small plates cooked for you by award-winning chefs Stephen Harris (The Sportsman) and Paul Weaver (St. John). Inevitably it’s di-vine…
Address: 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB | READ MORE
10 Cases | Covent Garden
Looking for a great, laid back, Central London wine bar? These guys are on the case. It’s a small, bistro-esque space in Covent Garden – think dark wood ceiling fans, a black and white checked floor, and blackboards with the menu scribbled in chalk along the walls – which (as the name suggests) only serves ten reds and ten whites at a time. They buy them by the case and serve them until they’re gone before going out and buying new ones. Which means, not only do you get to avoid a ten page wine list (as well as the anxiety that comes with trying to pretend you understand it all), you can also keep coming back without getting bored. Every bottle is also available by the glass, and they’re not too spenny either. Plus there are nibbles, although second to the wine… just in case.
Address: 16 Endell Street, WC2H 9BD | READ MORE
Bottles | Spitalfields
Next on the list is Bottles, a relatively new contender, although worthy of a spot nonetheless. You’ll find it along the edge of Old Spitalfields Market, where you’ll first notice it for its white-washed courtyard which – fitted with pillow-lined benches, rustic wooden tables and overhead heaters – evokes the feeling of holidaying somewhere warm. Inside is a little more industrial-feeling. It’s set over two floors, both of which have a big central communal table with distressed leather stools and filament lights hanging overhead. Wine-wise, the focus is on independent producers and small growers, although they still have over 180 labels on offer. The food comes courtesy of Sood Kitchen, who are not only lovely but also incredibly talented chefs, cooking up a regularly-changing menu of delicious Italian fare.
Address: 67 Brushfield Street, E1 6AA | FIND OUT MORE
The Laughing Heart | Hackney
Another one sure to get your pulse racing is Hackney’s Laughing Heart, a handsome, low-lit, exposed-brick wine bar and restaurant courtesy of Charlie Mellor (ex P Franco, Brawn, and Primeur). It takes it’s name from a Charles Bukowski poem, and it’s philosophy apparently – ‘you can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes’ – offering up a fifteen page wine list (mostly championing smaller-producers), alongside a late night license that means early evenings regularly slip into early mornings unnoticed. As well as the wine, you can also enjoy a selection of British-Asian small plates, served up by Head Chef Tom Anglesea, things like Yorkshire rabbit tortellini with mustard & tarragon, or Orkney scallops with English wasabi, dashi & sea herbs. Mellor and his seasoned staff will happily recommend what best to pair with what you’re drinking, otherwise the full menu is there for the taking. Speaking of which, they also run an Off License, meaning you can pop in anytime and buy a number of their regular bottles at a reduced price to take away.
Address: 277 Hackney Road, Hackney, East London, E2 8NA | FIND OUT MORE
Clarette | Marylebone
It’s a French wine bar and restaurant brought to you, in part, by wine royalty Alexandra Petit (a member of the family behind the renowned French wine estate, Château Margaux). Once a Scottish pub, it still bears a mock Tudor frontage and Scottish coats of arms in its stained glass windows. However, most of everything else has been beautifully modernised including bright blue banquette seating, and pink velvet chairs. It’s three floors in total, but wherever you end up, you’ll have access to the same highly curated, worldwide wine list boasting a number of fine wines both by the bottle and the glass. They also offer an all-day menu of French food: snacks, smaller plates, larger plates, and dessert. Which means can either just grab a few nibbles to tide you over, or treat yourself to a four-course feast of olives; roasted scallops with squash, mushrooms and pancetta; lamb cutlets with parsley gremolata, yoghurt and pomegranate; and caramelised apple tart with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Address: 44 Blandford Street, W1U 7HS | READ MORE
Diogenes the Dog | Elephant & Castle
Diogenes was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived in a barrel. He had a go at Alexander the Great to his face, brought food into Plato’s lectures and was eventually captured by pirates. And this South London wine bar has some pretty interesting things in barrels, too; focussing on bringing lesser known wines to the fore. 40% off the bottles are imported directly from producers, and cover a good range of red, white, orange, fortified and dessert wines. Plus, there’s terrines, toasties, and a ‘boozy cheeseboard’ to snack on, to the dulcet tones of live jazz or performing poets.
Address: 96 Rodney Road, SE17 1BG | FIND OUT MORE
10 Greek Street | Soho
When you’re looking for a wine bar with a little more to nibble on than just charcuterie, head to number 10. This Soho eatery’s known for its rotating, seasonal food menu, but just as much attention is given to the wine. The best day to visit is Sunday, when you can take a peek at their Little Black Book, inside which you’ll find a hand-scrawled list of discounted wines personally selected from private auctions and fine wine bin-ends.
Address: 10 Greek Street, W1D 4DH | READ MORE
Furanxo | Dalston
In both name and style, Furanxo feels like the Spanish counterpart to P. Franco. It’s an East London wine bar that’s a shop by day (specialising in bottles, canned goods and deli items) that transforms to a laid-back, candlelit bar by night. Grab a stool by the cool marble counters, order yourself a cluster of exquisite tapas dishes, and take their suggestion for a good glass of vino to wash it all down with.
Address: 85 Dalston Lane, E8 2NG | READ MORE
Fancy a little jazz with your wine? Take a look at our guide to the best jazz bars in London here.