BarChick’s not going to pretend she knows her vintages from her vermouths, but that’s not to say a bit of cheese and wine isn’t perfect for a night off the cocktails….
The kind of neighbourhood joint you wish was on your block. Sager & Wilde is small, industrial styled and with Michael Sager behind the bar you’re guaranteed a well guided journey into the world of unusual and absolutely delicious wines. He keeps a small selection that’s forever changing, but there’s always something to please the palate. Park yourself on a bar stool and prepare to learn. The grilled cheese sandwich ain’t too bad either.
193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL
As soon as you walk through the tiny green door of Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels you’re a shade classier. Freshly imported from Paris, it’s bought to you by those big shot boozers behind Experimental Cocktail Club, only this time they’ve swapped their cocktail shakers for good ol’ fashioned vino instead.
This is the little sister of the Parisian original on rue Lobineau, and they’ve pretty much recreated one of our favourite wine bars of the French capital in all its glory. Think classic brasserie chic, with a bit of retro elegance thrown in. The wine list is as epic as the bar’s pedigree, focusing on bottles from lesser-known independent producers. The perfect place to let your inner wine geek run free.
8-10 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London
During the day come and shop for delicious Italian produce like wine, olive oil and cured meats. In the evening the shop atmosphere gives way to a cool bar with a romantic candlelit ambiance, some incredibly well made cocktails and delicious food like bresaola, anchovy and butter soldiers and crostini. The wine list is perfect and available by the glass, the carafe or the bottle. We say order the latter, head downstairs and get settled for the evening. Cheers.
33 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JT
Better known for the market on Saturdays this place gives you a reason to head down on a weekday too. The converted railway arch houses a simple space selling handpicked European wines! With a couple of options by the glass it’s best to bring a bunch of mates and pick from the bigger range of wine to buy by the bottle. Take it home or drink it there, you have the option! Oh and the food’s good too, delicious and fresh the menu changes daily.
40 Maltby Street, London, SE1 3PA
A cavernous, candlelit, one of a kind, this is one of London’s oldest wine bars. Along with a cheap and extensive (if even a little old-school) wine list, they also have a garden in the summer that fills with amusingly varied wine-heads…. and the rest. Plates of cheese and cured meats accompany delicious wine or sherry served straight from the barrel. It’s cosy, characterful and hobbit sized, mates will feel right at home in this low ceilinged cellar bar.
47 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NE
London’s first sherry bar is a two minute jump from Kings Cross station. Get stuck into around 15 types of sherry along with a hand picked selection of red, white and cider. There are 5 little tables to sit at and you’ll find the loo next door in big sis bar Camino. What BarChick really loved is their menu to go, sherry for the train ride home anyone? Hell yes.
Varnishers Yard, Regents Quarter, N1 9FD
East end brother to Soif and Terroirs, it sits snugly into the corner of Columbia road. There is a converted garage feel to it and the service is great – just what BarChick likes when faced with such an extensive choice of wines! They concentrate on the natural and biodynamic and have everything from sparkling pink, French ciders, elderflower and sloe gin to quince liquor, though it had to be said the sherry went down the best.
Columbia Rd, Bethnal Green, London, E2 7RG
The idea is pretty straight forward, 10 whites, 10 reds and 10 cases of each. Drink ‘em all and the next 10 brought in will be a whole different story. With low mark ups, service charge that’s up to you and free sample bottles at the bar, it’s a great little spot if you’re skint and thirsty. Along with the wine the food also changes too, we had some Neils Yard cheese and super saucisson all whilst sitting outside in the sun. They’ve also opened up a bottle shop and bistro next door, or head downstairs if you wanna have a party with your mates, there’s room for 16 and a ladder to escape up if you can’t afford the bill.
16 Endell Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9BD
Under one of the oldest pubs in London you’ll find Todd’s Wine Bar. The pub is heavy on the oak panelling, but it’s the narrow staircase to the left that you’ll be wanting. Glass tables are filled with dusty bottles, tartan chairs sit in cosy corners and saucy French drawings hang on the walls to get the heart racing. Todd’s wine company pride themselves on sourcing their wines from families and small growers. The menu is by the bottle but ask nicely and they’ll serve them by the glass. On weekends they bring on the house music and shots, so something suggests that the city boys and girls singing loudly beside you won’t be going anywhere fast.
Jamaica Wine House, St Michael’s Alley, London EC3V 9DS
Secretly located off the busy Strand this is the spot to hit if you’re dodging the bad pubs and tourist hangouts around the area. Carefully hidden past the black doorway and down a worn staircase, it has an art deco, French café feel to it. Wine is sold by the glass, carafe and bottle so watch your step up the staircase on your way out. There’s a deli counter plus cheese and meat boards if you’re sharing, and all their wines are there to take away, handy if you’re off to the theatre…
1A Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9HH
Well hidden at the back of Leicester square is one of our favourite dungeons of a wine bar. There is a bit of French bias here, but generally speaking most regions and styles are covered. We recommend showing off and going for a magnum – BarChick hearts big measures. Most of the food here will make you fat: cheese, ham & cheese pie, and more cheese, but it’s always good to soak up the booze. Best thing about this place is that it’s hopelessly romantic, date a take and settle down for the night.
44-46 Cranbourn Street, London, WC2H 7AN
If you find yourself in Piccadilly and screeching at the number of tourists with maps and cameras in your face, then head to Fortnum & Mason’s basement wine bar 1707. Whilst most people come here for tea, coffee, scorpion vodka and overpriced chocolates, the basement bar is perfect for a mid afternoon snack over a glass of wine. You can buy a bottle to drink at the bar for an added charge, and why not grab a bite to eat from the food hall while you’re at it? Pretty civilised shopping.
181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
Charming staff and a huge selection of wines dominated by South Africa, makes Vivat Bacchus a hot spot to come get your red wine lips fix. With a white wine store upstairs and a red wine one downstairs it’s the cheese room that really got us going. Have a taste of whatever takes your fancy, choose your favourites and they will make up a plate and bring it to your table. Make sure you take a peep into the red wine store, with price tags of £700 plus on certain bottles it’s like porn for wine geeks.
4 Hays Ln, London Bridge, London, SE1 2HB
With a range of 450 wines to choose from, there is a lot of insight into the world of wine to get geeky on. The pricing is reasonable, but if you want to get down and dedicated to tasting great vino then there are some rare and unusual grapes to sample. For £10 or more a bottle you can drink it at the bar or take your pick and head home with it.
9 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1BA
Like a bit a vino? Then you’ll love Dalla Terra. Hundreds of bottles of various wines and champagnes don the walls (watch your bag, BarChick almost wiped a shelf clean). The deal here is you can choose any bottle at retail cost with a £7.50 corkage. Nice. Don’t know sh*t bout wine? Don’t sweat it, you’ll get all the help you need, here they’ll give you reccomendations for each course you’ve ordered…each one we got was spot on.
Grab a table cos the food here is amazing. Get stuck in to the mixed crostini, (chickpea, mascarpone and salt fish is a new favourite), and another must is the smoked swordfish carpaccio… hell yes.
St. Martin’s Courtyard, 25 Slingsby Place, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9AB