Food & Drink

The 11 Best Wine Bars in London

Published On 08/06/2015 Published On 08/06/2015

London has great beer, great cocktails, and apparently just to collect the whole set, great wine, too. From underground caves, to a bona fide urban winery, here's where to go if you want to enjoy the best grapes the capital has to offer...

Gordon’s Wine Bar

Embankment
This place is, quite literally the stone-cold classic of London wine bars. Carved out of a huge cave beneath Embankment by what we’re forced to assume was a very vindictive dwarf, it’s the capital’s oldest wine bar, and something every native absolutely needs to tick off their bucket list.

The Remedy

The Remedy

Fitzrovia
The Remedy’s name is born of the three founders’ belief that good wine can “solve (just about) any problem.” Clearly they’ve never taken a bottle of Malbec into an AS maths exam or tried to fix a blown head gasket with a carafe of Valpolicella, but we must admit that, inside the walls of this intimate little enoteca, the world seems like a slightly better place. The lovingly curated wine list at The Remedy spans the vinicultural globe, whilst the rustic, continental small plates that accompany it are crafted from ingredients of the highest caliber.

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Covent Garden
Covent Garden: once you’ve kicked your way through a group of tourists, squeezed past an ill-advised concept pop-up, and said something biting to those chaps that hand out those little soaps that look like sweets, you’ll probably be in need of a large glass of the good stuff. CVS to the rescue, then. Slip downstairs into this intimate bodega-like dining room and find yourself in a soft-furnished hollow dappled with yellow candlelight. Truly, the wine list at this Neal’s Yard joint is a sight for jaded eyes: an amassed compendium of unusual delights, staunch favorites, and next-big-thing numbers.

Sager + Wilde

Sager and Wilde

Hackney
Sager and Wilde has the cool, severe aspect of a mid-century Parisian corner bar: all exposed floors, round tables, shadowy blinds, and sweeping wine racks, it’s the kind of place Ernest Hemingway would hang out in if Ernest Hemingway hung out in, um, Hackney. Certainly the wine list here is serious enough to keep one in a state of authorial stupor: vast, creative, and dripping with Old World heavyweights. As for food, the hefty grilled cheese sandwiches on offer should keep you going whilst you bounce half-cut novel concepts off the hilariously knowledgeable staff.

Terroirs Wine Bar

Terroirs

Embankment
Perhaps the biggest name in London’s burgeoning wine bar scene, Terroirs has poured the good stuff into more famous faces than you’ve had glasses of Montrachet Grand Cru. The formula’s pretty straightforward: an intimidatingly long wine list with a biodynamic lean, a winningly simple small-plates menu, and an eerily knowledgeable swathe of sommeliers make Terroirs a second home for the West End’s connoisseurs, flaneurs, and raconteurs.

Quality Chop House

Quality Chop House

Farringdon
Upon taking over the old Quality Chop House, owner Will Lander promised he’d make as few changes as possible to the original and beloved utilitarian eating spot.  Well, old Will made good on his promise, except for one tiny detail: the addition of a Parisian-style "bar a vin" out the back. But what a detail. Customers can choose a bottle from this lovingly curated shop collection, before paying a small corkage levy to enjoy its contents alongside a traditional London-inspired menu. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The 10 Cases

The 10 Cases

Covent Garden
10 cases, an unpretentious bistrot a vin in a bustling corner of Covent Garden, stands blithely to the core principle that its name suggests: 10 white wines, 10 red wines, nothing more. A short wine list doesn’t mean the place is short on delights, however: an incredibly well-priced cellar means you might find yourself sampling all 10 offerings in a single sitting, whilst a punchy little menu will have you fighting for a spot at one of the only 10 tables in the restaurant. I suppose we really ought to say it: it’s a 10 out of 10.

Flickr/Ewan Munro

40 Maltby Street

Bermondsey
40 Maltby Street is already Bermondsey’s worst-kept secret, and it’s only with great reluctance that we share its joys with you now, such is our desire to keep the numbers down. Crammed into an ancient railway arch, this little enoteca possesses the dimensions of a demi-carafe yet the awe of a Nebuchadnezzar. Fatty, Basque-style charcuterie and freshly baked baguettes mingle with a gorgeous wine list and now, thanks to this, the whole world and his wife. Stay away, we found it first.

Negozio Classica

Negozio Classica

Westbourne Grove
Chiseled business suits, slick-backed hair, and what are presumably some Versace underwear models lend this little bodega the ultra-trendy air of a Milanese piazza mid-fashion week. The wines on offer are, however, pleasingly rural, with a Tuscan-centric cellar and a fine selection of organic and biodynamic producers. The platters of antipasti that float by, meanwhile, are offered about with the true warmth of a Mafia wedding, completing Negozio’s unique ambience: both devastatingly cool and truly homely all at once.

ToastDulwich

Toasted

East Dulwich
Toasted’s name is awfully clever in that it marries the act of drinking with the effect of drinking in just two syllables: if one drinks too many toasts, one will become absolutely toasted. Just as pleasing, in fact, is the décor: the rugged brick walls are lined with a miscellany of aging bottles abandoned by the previous owner, while one of the dining spaces plays host to three vast fermentation tanks. The Old World list here is pleasingly left field, eschewing big-name appellations for some quirky continental cameos, while the food is staggeringly tasty British fare. No toast, though, sadly.

BONUS!

London Cru

Earl’s Court
Holding the esteemed honor of being London’s only winery, Cru imports French grapes and blends them in Earl’s Court to make some -- we apologize for the following pun -- capital booze. Although they're not strictly a wine bar, they do hold regular tours that allow you drink the stuff straight from the barrel, and even create your own blend, making it something of an oenophilic dream. Currently on hiatus, they'll start up again “as soon as they’ve processed this year’s harvest.”

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1. Gordon's Wine Bar 47 Villiers Street, Embankment, WC2N 6NE (Covent Garden)

Buried deep beneath cobbled streets in Covent Garden, Gordon's Wine Bar is composed of multiple caves and tunnels filled with small candlelit tables and copious bottles of wine, which is somehow more romantic than it is gimmicky. Gordon's has been around since 1890, and is still going strong serving its wide selection of global wines (ranging from red to rosé to vegan) and a handful of snacks, such as cheese plates, a smoked salmon salad, and peppers stuffed with feta cheese.

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2. The Remedy 124 Cleveland St, London, w1t 6PG (Fitzrovia)

The name of this spot is a homage to the founders' philosophy that wine can solve almost all problems. We're not going to question them when the wine list is THIS good, especially not during $1 oyster happy hours or Monday Night Fever, when 12 select bottles are 50% off (!!!).

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3. Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels 8-10 Neal's Yard, London, WC2H 9DP (Covent Garden)

Covent Garden -- not always the most fun for non-tourists. But this little wine bar, tucked downstairs at Neal's Yard, is worth braving the crowds. The wine list won't disappoint, offering everything from well known, respected favorites, to up & coming stars, with a few unique options that fall somewhere in the middle

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4. Sager & Wilde 193 Hackney Rd, London, E2 8JL (Hackney)

Sager & Wilde is a sleek wine bar serving reasonably price drinks by the bottle or glass, and varying day to day. The food menu boasts a rotating set of small plates. Behind the long iron-grate bar sits staff members who clearly know what they’re talking about, so rest assured you’ll get something to your liking. Overflowing with laid-back charm, this is the perfect spot to try wines you’ve never heard of (there's an extensive by-the-glass program) and then end up ordering several bottles worth. Also, the toasted sandwich game here is ace.

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5. Terroirs 5 William IV St, London, WC2N 4DW (Covent Garden)

In typical wine bar fashion, the wine list exceeds the food menu by more than seems possible. This West End spot has set a sort of bar for wine bars in the area after becoming arguably the biggest name on the scene,

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6. The Quality Chop House 92–94 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3EA (Clerkenwell)

Despite receiving glowing reviews even within its own name, 140yr-old Farringdon stalwart QCH went out in the recession, but's now returned to reclaim its glory in its Grade 2 listed building, with its b/w tile floor supporting familiar oak pews ideal for the practice of meat worship.

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7. The 10 Cases 16 Endell Street, London, WC2H 9BD (Covent Garden)

Now soft-open in Covent Garden for an official Monday launch, 10's bistro-esque space plays host to a mathematically determined menu: three daily changing, three-course feasts of classic pan-European fare (starters like prawns & aioli or foie gras terrine, mains like whole sea bass or pork belly), all designed to accompany the constantly rotating 10-case stock of 10 different reds & 10 different whites, which, taken collectively, form the Bay City Rollers.

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8. 40 Maltby Street 40 Maltby Street, London, SE1 3PA (Southwark)

Located in an old railway arch in Bermondsey, this spot is already too popular for our liking. But really between the dynamic wine list, charcuterie, and fresh bread -- we expect nothing less.

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9. Negozio Classica 283 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2QA (Notting Hill)

The Italian vibe of this spot extends from the Tuscan-focused wine list, to the antipasti, to the patrons. The cold and simultaneously welcoming atmosphere is definitely unique, but don't let it deter you because this wine bar is something special.

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10. Toast.e.d. 36-38 Lordship Ln, London, SE22 8HJ (Brixton)

Toast.e.d. took the classic wine bar, added breakfast (served until 11:45am) & some fermentation tanks, and came out a winner. The food menu is notably British, but the wine list is Old World random, with a bunch of unique bottles.

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