The Best Wine Bars In London
Last Updated: 24th February 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 shop and bar 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. After Gleave came ex-Clove Club chef Tim Spedding and Giuseppe Lacorazza of New York’s WildAir. Nowadays it’s Anna Tobias (former head chef at Rochelle Canteen) who continues to keep the queue long, although if you turn up early, or with a big coat for a short wait, you’ll be in soon enough – so there’s really very little to wine about.
Address: 107 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP | FIND OUT 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
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 did we say: one of the best wine bars in London.
Address: 2 Battersea Rise, SW11 1ED | FIND OUT 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 | FIND OUT MORE HERE
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 | FIND OUT 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 | FIND OUT 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 week-end or post-work drink, chat, and general good time.
Address: 193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL | FIND OUT 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 | FIND OUT 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 follows 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 hot-spot; 7) They have live gigs with upcoming acts every Sunday and Monday; 8) You have free will, so can politely self-induce a cheese and wine coma if any of them are are bad.
Address: Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AA | FIND OUT 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 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
Next on the list of the best wine bars in London is Noble Rot. 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 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 | FIND OUT 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 | FIND OUT MORE
Bottles | Spitalfields
Next on the list is Bottles, a relatively new contender, although worth of a spot nonetheless. You’ll find it along the edge of Old Spitalfields Market, where you’ll first notice it for it’s white-washed courtyard which – fit 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 two floors, both of which have a big central communal table, with distressed leather stalls, and hanging filament lights overhead. Wine wise the focus is on independent producers and small farms, 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
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 wears 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 | FIND OUT MORE
Fancy a little jazz with your wine? Take a look at our guide to the best jazz bars in London here.