Forget starchy and old-fashioned. London’s best wine bars are bringing the humble grape to cool crowds of discerning drinkers. Find cosy, bistro-style settings, sophisticated bars that are great for date night, or hip Hackney hangouts where wine is the drink du jour. Discover everything from natural wines to grapes from far-flung vineyards, plus service from knowledgeable, approachable staff.
From the relatively new Diogenes the Dog, where wine from the Czech Republic, Poland and Wales are all par for the course to the rustic Winemakers Deptford, which is back open again and repping some of the best drops from more common wine-making regions. One thing is for certain, you’ll find more than a bargain bin Sauv Blanc at these great little grape-peddlers.
The best wine bars in London
Forget the French rustic clichés: this is an edgy space, with geometric white tiling, pendant lights and a goldfish bowl made from an old TV set. The wine, fromage and charcuterie are good, too: Authentique wants to bring the best from French-speaking parts of the world to a corner of north London, and the by-the-glass menu highlights a different region each month. Take it from us - this place is un-brie-lievable.
Wine shop down below, stunning restaurant and bar up above, The Laughing Heart has a wine list that begins with a Keats poem, such is its beauty. Wines are sourced from lesser-known vineyards, are all organic and are all fantastic. Small plates are adventurous and pair perfectly with these drops from around the world. Don’t be surprised to hear wine buffs chatting tannins and such all around the room.
For formidable wine recommendations that don’t feel rehearsed from some of the friendliest ‘somms’ in the business, check out this Walworth wonder bar. It’s named after a Greek philosopher but there’s nothing poncey about the place. Owner Sunny Hodge often buys direct from vineyards to champion lesser-known producers from emerging regions while keeping costs low for punters. We’re not talking bargain bin – but if you fancy flavours from Croatia and the Czech Republic, where better than in among the folliage of this down-to-earth spot.
This wine bar was a bit of a game-changer when it first opened in 2013, and it’s still just as trendy a hangout on the Hackney Road. It broke down the barriers to hard-to-find wines by selling them by the glass without restaurant mark-ups. So sit up at a bar made from pavement lights and let attractive staff fill your glass with wines you’ll never be able to pronounce. Don’t miss their cheese toasties, either.
As east London's first urban winery, Renegade has been producing since early 2017. Tucked under the railway arches is this bench-filled taproom surrounded by barrels and fermentation tanks. The grapes are brought over from wineries abroad, as well as those in the UK, produced and then served here, along with cheese. And while other European producers are available, it'd be a shame not to try the output from these passionate winemakers, especially when it's this good. It’s time you tried a London bacchus.
While known for its signature ’nduja croquettes (and with very good reason), Salon along Brixton’s Market Row is an inspired place to sip, particularly in its downstairs bar or on its benches out the front facing the market’s constant comings and goings. While wine by the glass or bottle is always interesting, it’s how it’s served by approachable staff that gives Salon the edge. Director Mark Gurney is as passionate about beats as he is booze, so stop by the neighbouring Wine Store every first Thursday of the month for Strictly Bangers, a night of tunes to match those tannins.
It’s time for a bit of skin contact at The Remedy, where orange wines are given a full page of the wine menu. You’ll also discover some harder to reach grapes, with many wines at the higher end of the minerality scale. It’s a small little space with a few cute alcoves if you’re looking to cosy up over your Côtes du Rhône. Sure to cure whatever ails you.
Furanxo doubles as a Spanish grocery store (or an abacería, to those acquainted with the concept), so you can pick up a tin of sardines before tucking into natural wine. They’re all very interesting tipples, sourced from across the Iberian Peninsula, with just four available at any given time by the glass. There’s not much room for sitting and sipping, so get up close and personal with other punters, as is the Spanish way.
The rear restaurant at Noble Rot gets a lot of deserved praise. But the wine bar at the front of the room is a character-filled hangout with covers of the eponymous Noble Rot magazine framed on the walls. The full wine list is an epic tome, but the options by the glass are a joy to read, with wines from Burgundy and the Jura met with more distinctive grapes sourced from lesser-celebrated regions. Anyone for a tipple from Tenerife?
If you’re bothered about wine, get along to this ‘bothy’. The Highbury wine bar is named after the huts Scots take shelter in when roaming around the Highlands, but the shelter you get at this bar is on a whole new level. Choose from peppy orange wine from New Zealand or reds from Slovenia, as well as more pedestrian choices from Tuscany and La Rioja. Or indulge in a bargain deal of a carafe of house red with a cheese plate for £20.
Chances are that when you think of wine bars, you think of French-style bistros, clad in wood and filled with cute little tables à deux. Take a trip to The 10 Cases to make your dreams a reality. There are 20-ish wines on the list each day, available by glass, carafe or bottle. Devour food from a modern European menu or head to the shop, where an enomatic machine keeps samples fresh. They’ve even developed Drop, a wine delivery app that brings the 10 Cases experience direct to your door.
Bag-in-box wine is made trendy at this wine-bar-meets-deli in Dalston – not only does it prove the point that you can get a fresher tipple by the glass, but this bar is also doing its bit for the environment (and for your wallet). Grab an orange, canteen-chic seat and choose a wine from the blackboard. Or ask genial staff for tasters (easier than ever) and guidance – they sure know their stuff. In fact, you could say they’re box clever.
The Winemakers Club’s Deptford bar is back open and serving up deliciously rustic peasant grub on a slightly more limited menu then before – but they’re still nailing it. You get a much longer read from the wine list, which champions low intervention vino from the brand’s partner producers, based far and wide – from the Barossa Valley to Borolo, Italy to Hungary.
Terroirs is just by Trafalgar Square and the way it serves wine is as iconic as Nelson’s Column. The wines on the list are typically low intervention or natural wines and predominantly French, but you’ll also find bold reds, whites and rosés from Austria, the US and even Slovenia. A French bistro-style menu is not to be missed. Prices can creep up quickly, but visit at lunchtime for a plat du jour and glass of wine for just £12.
Venue says Winter Cheese & Wine Tasting with Geoffrey Nivard, Wed Feb 19, 7pm, £35pp; six cheeses & six wines. Book via email@example.com
Rustic and ramshackle, Unwined sits inside Tooting Broadway Market and takes the ceremony out of chardonnay. Enjoy wine tastings or head along for a glass or two of the good stuff from a selection of bottles to fit a different theme each month. Pop-ups take up residency in the kitchen from Thursday to Sunday so you can scoff while you quaff – that way you won’t leave in an equally ramshackle state.
This wine bar has been a Shepherd’s Bush institution for long enough to have inspired the setting for ‘EastEnders’: you know, Albert Square. It’s a charming, rustic space filled with locals young and old, and staff guide you through a selection of around 20 wines – predominantly Old World – by the glass. Pair with Parma ham and cheese for proper Continental vibes.
You can slurp wine in an art gallery (you sophisticated bastard), at the evening operation of the Whitechapel Gallery, from the team who brought you 10 Greek Street and 8 Hoxton Square. The list is arranged from light to heavy for ease of access, so you won’t embarrass yourself in front of a cool, arty crowd if you’re lacking wine know-how. Time your visit carefully, though; After Hours is open until 11pm, but only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
There are 200 varieties by the bottle at the Fleet Street branch of Humble Grape. They’re easy enough to get your head around, though, thanks to an insightful menu serving up advice like ‘virtually unpronounceable, completely unforgettable’. Booze for your buck is strong here, with a flight of four wines costing £13 in total. Or visit on Mondays, when bottles are sold without the mark-up.
Bottles is located on the edge of Old Spitalfields Market and boasts an impressive wine list; it’s tight, focused and reflects a deep knowledge of the grape, with emphasis on Italian wine. Those eponymous bottles have been sourced from independent producers and small vineyards, and if there’s anything that tickles your fancy, you can buy one to take home from the wooden crates that line the bar. All the waiting staff are sommeliers, fully equipped to chat through the options as you settle in to the moodily lit space.
That moment when the owners of London’s top Spanish restaurant Barrafina say they’re opening a wine bar. Expect semi-bodega vibes across three interconnected, bare-brick arches – even if it’s a little deceptive; the wine list celebrates low-intervention vineyards around the world and from far beyond just the Iberian peninsula. That’s especially true of the by-the-glass selection (which starts at £5), where you’ll find wine from Greece, Tenerife and Georgia for starters.