Sager + Wilde, Hackney

Features

Talisa Dean 22/02/24


The Best Wine Bars In London

If you’re looking for a great wine bar in London…

…vino all the best places.

We’re talking impossibly beautiful hidden bars in glamorous hotels; crepuscular caverns lit only by candlelight; urban wineries; converted stables; and classic Parisian bistros with fondue and firesides.

Whether you find yourself stuck in the crowds of Soho or wandering along the river parched and in need of a drink, there’s usually not just a good, but a great wine bar nearby. We know because we’ve gone ahead and tried them all on your behalf, before listing what we believe to be the best wine bars in London below.


PS: This list was growing so long… we’ve plonked the natural wine bars over here.


Bruno | Victoria Park

Bruno wine bar

In terms of its size, Michael Sager’s latest wine bar is hardly a magnum… but when it comes to atmosphere & style, it’s the whole cellar. Bruno is a teeny little converted stable round the corner from Victoria Park – and frankly, you’d be hard pressed to find a lovelier place to hole up after a long walk. Rustic, bare stuccoed walls and a crackly vinyl soundtrack gives the place a homely atmosphere, while a smattering of tables make it outside in warmer weather. The selection here is guided by Michael’s own personal connections, bought direct from small-scale growers alongside picks from his own cellar.

Details: 211a Victoria Park Road, London E9 7JN | No bookings

Noble Rot | Bloomsbury

noble rot wine bar bloomsbury

What started out as a magazine set up by friends Mark Andrew and Dan Keeling to quench their long-term love of wine has taken concrete shape in the form of a real-life London wine bar. The restaurant is well-worth checking out – an expertly curated menu of ‘Franglais’ small plates from award-winning chefs Stephen Harris (The Sportsman) and Paul Weaver (St. John) awaits. But if you’re just in the mood for a glass and a couple of snacks, snag a walk-in table at the wine bar, drenched in ambience thanks to the dark woods, candlelight and roaring fire.

The wine list is long. There are four pages dedicated to sweet & fortified wines alone. But if you’re serious – or even just remotely curious – about wines, there’s no better place to get stuck into your research. The staff are friendly, wise, and ready to guide you whether you’re looking at a £22 or a £7,297 bottle.

Details: 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB | Walk-in only, or book for the restaurant here

Veraison Wines | Camberwell

veraison wines

Feeding into Camberwell’s low-key growth as a budding food and drink force (joining the likes of Forza Win, Mama Funki, and the Camberwell Arms), Veraison is the sort of wine hideout that wouldn’t look out of place in a town in the Loire Valley, thanks to its wood-accented interior and library-like shelves stacked with artfully-designed bottles of mostly small-scale wines. Turn up on Thursday evenings for weekly tastings (at £30 a pop) and leave a scholar on subjects like orange wine (or as you’ll soon find out, skin contact whites), while there’s moreish raclette toasties to nibble on if you get hungry. 

Details: 78 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8QZ | No bookings

Sager + Wilde | Hackney

Sager + Wilde

Low-lit, artfully dilapidated and unspeakably romantic. You’ll find this wine bar 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 – Michael Sager and Charlotte Wilde 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.

Details: 193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL | Book here

Passione Vino | Shoreditch

passione vino shoreditch bar

Passione Vino is a bottle shop-cum-wine bar stacked with hundreds of low-intervention wines from Italian producers, all hand-picked by grape fanatic Luca Dusi. It is not a place for control freaks. For here, you must surrender to the deep, boundless knowledge of the team who, in place of a menu, will bring you a glass of whatever feels right for you. It could be poured from a double magnum, it could be something you’d never pick out off the shelf – but it will be delicious.

Details: 85 Leonard St, London EC2A 4QS | Book here

Gordon’s Wine Bar | Embankment

Gordon's Wine Bar

One of the oldest and the best wine bars in London, a place where the real-life Rudyard Kipling would kick back and swill Sancerre. You’ll find it off a side street by the river where you’ll enter into a small network of 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.

Details: 47 Villiers St, WC2N 6NE | No bookings

10 Cases | Covent Garden

10 cases wine bar and bistro

Justin De Souza

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 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.

Details: 16 Endell Street, WC2H 9BD | Book here

The Red Room | Mayfair

The Red Room, Mayfair

The glamorous Connaught Hotel has an amazing Champagne bar, with a nice list of vintage bottles and Champagne cocktails. But it’s what you’ll discover behind the velvet curtain that’s of most importance to us today, because this is The Red Room: a beautiful, marble-clad wine bar with a mere thirty thousand bottles in the cellar…

Details: The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL | No bookings

The Mulwray | Chinatown

the mulwray wine bar

Hidden away above The Blue Posts pub in Chinatown, The Mulwray is named for Faye Dunaway’s character in the iconic movie, and it’s every bit as alluring. The space is a richly decorated lounge of dark velvets, marble and satin brass details contrasting with furnishings in soft pink. There’s an entire backlit wall of wine dominating one side of the room, but the centrepiece is the golden brass bar, where you can order from their extensive list of highly interesting wines. Each of the staff seems to have a seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of grape hooch, and can navigate the menu for you with gleeful aplomb. Everything on there’s from a sustainable & bio-dynamic vineyard, and what comes out is always interesting. They’ve even gotten themselves a Coravin system, should you want to explore by the glass. And trust us, you will.

Address: Upstairs, 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ | Book here

Diogenes the Dog | Elephant & Castle

Diogenes The Dog

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 Sunny Hodge’s South London wine bar has some pretty interesting things in barrels, too, focussing on bringing lesser known wines to the fore. 40% of 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.

PS: Turns out, Sunny’s philosophy works. His follow-up bar, Aspen & Meursault, is a sunny Battersea edition offering a brilliant selection of natural wines.

Details: 96 Rodney Road, SE17 1BG | Book here

Humble Grape | Across London

Best Wine Bars in London Humble Grape

The Humble Grape bars started out when wine was still a bit of an old boys’ club, creating laid-back environments where easy-going staff will tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about wine (but were too afraid to ask). Of course, 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 boards. They also 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.

Details: Branches in Islington, Battersea, Fleet Street, Crouch End, Canary Wharf & Liverpool Street | Book here

Bar Du Champagne | Covent Garden

bar du champagne

Wine bars are good, but Champagne bars have one up on all of them. And Bar Du Champagne is, believe it or not, a Champagne bar. You’ll find it on Henrietta Street, in a space that feels warm and inviting thanks to the wooden furnishings, the terracotta hued walls, and the vintage style chandeliers which bathe the place in a soft glow. On the the menu, the bottles lean towards organic & biodynamic estates, with just over a dozen sparkling varietals making their discriminating cut. Complimenting that, the food menu is quite lovely, including a beautiful roasted cauliflower with brown butter glaze & preserved lemon gremolata; some sizeable grilled prawns in a Champagne beurre blanc; and an elegant Champagne tiramisu.

Details: 24 Henrietta St, WC2E 8ND | Book here

The Drop | King’s Cross

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 tapas joint Barrafina, Quo Vadis, El Pastor and Parrillan. Clearly, there’s very little they can’t turn their hand to. Working with these different cuisines has allowed them to amass a truly global understanding of wine, which is offered here by the bottle and glass alongside a concise menu of British fare. And all in a beautifully converted railway arch in King’s Cross with exposed brick walls, low-hanging pendant lighting, and jet black counter tops… it’s been known to cause a few jaws to drop.

Details: Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AB | Book here

Bottle & Rye | Brixton

Bottle + Rye

Addressing this first: a £5 wine happy hour, Tuesday to Saturday (5-6.30pm). In terms of cost-effective classy wine drinking, you can’t do much better in London. Found at the entrance of Brixton Market, Bottle & Rye is the work of Robin Gill and his wife Sarah, who never miss when opening up restaurants and bars (just look at Sorella for proof). Here they’ve gone to France for inspiration, styling the place out like a Parisian wine bar, and trusting old pal Lewis Wright (who’s been in charge of the wine at multiple Gill restaurants) to compile the largely low-intervention-leaning list.

Details: 404-406 Market Row, SW9 8LD | Book here or walk in

Clarette | Marylebone

Clarette

It’s a French wine bar and restaurant brought to you, in part, by Alexandra Petit, whose family runs the renowned French wine estate Château Margaux. Once a Scottish pub, Clarette still bears a mock Tudor frontage, cosy firesides and Scottish coats of arms in its stained glass windows. However, everything else has been beautifully modernised with bright blue banquette seating and vibrant artwork splashed across the walls. There are 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.

Details: 44 Blandford Street, W1U 7HS | Book here

Bottles | Spitalfields 

Bottles, Spitalfields

Bottles is lined up 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 in style. It’s set over two floors, both of which have a big central communal table with distressed leather stools and filament lights hanging overhead. The focus here is on independent producers and small growers, but that doesn’t make for a small list – 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 zero-waste menu of delicious Italian fare.

Details: 67 Brushfield Street, E1 6AA | Book here

Bambi | London Fields

Bambi

The past was Bright, the future’s… Bambi. The much-missed London Fields restaurant has now been reincarnated as Bambi, a wine bar, by James Dye (one of the guys behind Frank’s in Peckham). And he’s filled the place with low-intervention wines, stellar small plates from an ex-Peckham Cellars chef, and a shedload of vinyl…

Details: 1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL | Book here

The Winemakers Club | Farringdon 

winemakers club romantic bar

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 wine bar 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 | Book on [email protected]

Provisions Wine & Cheese | Highbury & Hackney

provisions wine and cheese islington

By day, it’s an excellent booze shop where the shelves are stacked with hand-picked bottles from small, low-intervention growers. But as the end of the week beckons, it stays open after hours as a cosy, intimate wine bar where you can sample some of the team’s favourites by the glass, or pick whatever you fancy off the shelves for a corkage fee. Providing a little ballast to the booze are sharing boards laden with the shop’s produce, from French cheese to Italian charcuterie.

Details: 167 Holloway Road, Islington, N7 8LX | Walk in, or book events & tastings here

Renegade Urban Winery | Bethnal Green & Walthamstow

renegade urban winery

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. Their wine bar in a Bethnal Green railway arch is super-cosy, but their winery in Walthamstow is where the magic happens – you can book in a tour if you want to see the enormous tanks where grapes from all over Europe are turned into plonk. The rest of the place feels more like a taproom than wine bar (it is set along the Blackhorse Beer Mile, after all), with regular live music, cracking Sunday roasts, and a relaxed, bunting-strewn space that’s open to dogs, babies, and groups of wine-swilling locals.

Details: 7 Lockwood Way, London E17 5RB | Book here

WC Clapham | Clapham

WC 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.

Details: Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AA | Book here

 


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