Vagabond Wines

Bars and pubs, Wine bars Fulham Broadway
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In 2007, a new off-licence in Islington called The Sampler introduced a help-yourself system for tasting wines before purchase. Wall-mounted bottles, held in wine preservation systems, could dispense small tasting measures using a smartcard (like an Oystercard) after you’d topped up some credit.

Selfridges then introduced a similar system to their sit-down wine bar in the West End, but their approach raised a few eyebrows at Westminster Council, and so Selfridges stopped doing this. Bars are only supposed to sell wines in standard, approved measures, you see. The legal issues surrounding wine measures continue to be subject to interpretation and local enforcement, and will be until the Weights and Measures rules are amended and updated, possibly this autumn.

Such concerns needn’t worry those of us who are only concerned with being able to try a wine before we buy it. Vagabond Wines in Fulham is the latest retailer to instal a card-payment system that allows you to try a few wines from dispensers before committing.

Vagabond’s a smart-looking place, run by keen, understated, well-informed staff. The 100 or so wines are grouped by style, such as ‘spicy’ or ‘elegant’ (reds), ‘crisp’ or ‘subtle’(whites). So load up your smartcard, then narrow down the sort of wine you’re looking for to a favourite.

Each measure is a mere sip of 25ml, but it’s enough to get the aroma and taste. And each measure only costs 50p, which is remarkable considering the price per bottle varies from around a tenner up to £30 or more. Takeaway tasting note cards accompany each wine, and the notes were spot-on for the wines we tried.

It’s hard to know how this system could be improved. Wine tasting evenings perhaps? Vagabond do them, every few days (next ones include ‘Burgundy versus The World’ on 24th November; for around £20). More off-licences like this, perhaps? As it happens, The Sampler has just opened a second branch, at 35 Thurloe Place, SW7 2HP (7225 5091). How about a change in the law about wine measures, so more places like this can open without the danger of being closed down? Someone in Whitehall is working on it.

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Vagabond Wines says
We are an award-winning, independent wine shop and 'enoteca'. With 100 wines on tap, we offer a self-serve wine experience to encourage you to discover great wines. Artisanal platters, small plates and lunch specials served daily. Get in touch for more info on bookings, tastings and events.
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Venue name: Vagabond Wines
Address: 18-22 Vanston Place
Opening hours: Noon-9pm Mon-Fri, 11am-9pm Sat, 11am-6pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Fulham Broadway tube
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Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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I have been to the vagabond in Shoreditch and I loved it. This wine bar specialises in unique and sought after wines and you can sample as many as you like before you buy. It is owned by some passionate wine lovers and they take pride in the booze they sell and serve. A wine bar,yes,but also a shop and there are bottles and bottles of lovely wines for your pleasure.

Me and my man went to one of the wine tastings held at the fulham branch. 'How to be a Rock and Roll Sommelier' and we had a brilliant time. We tasted 8 wines - a champagne,4 whites,2 reds and a 1999 white. All unusual to taste and with a story told by Colin (one of the owners and host of said tasting) about where the wine was from and who was the brian behind it. With all the booze can huge boards of cheese,bread and meats-yum! The tasting was £40 and well worth every penny. Such a fun and intimate evening. It was pleasure to meet Colin and chat away with some of there wine fans around the table.


I’ve been to several different wine tasting in my life, and have often had to sit through a long spiel about how wine is made, what kind of grapes they use and the fermentation process… which is interesting, but once you’ve heard it once, you don’t really need to hear it again which is what makes Vagabond such a fantastic venue, as you can self guide your way around the room trying as many as 50 different wines at your own leisure. You can read the info about each wine if you’re interested, and to be honest I find it intriguing to see which foods pair well with each wine (its mainly how I pick which wines I think i’ll like!), but if you’re just after finding a wine that you just love, this is the perfect way to do it. You top up an Oyster Card style card with as much cash as you’d like (i’d recommend £30 for 2 people) and sample 20ml tasters from the high-tech machines dispensing whites, reds, roses and fortified dessert wines - and once you find your favourite, you can even buy a bottle to enjoy in house or take home with you.

There is a decent food menu - mostly charcuterie which obviously works perfectly with the wines. It gets very busy in here, even on a weekday evening, so if you’re planning on eating past 8pm, you’re best off booking a table.

This is a great place for a private booking too - there is a large basement area perfect for a large group of friends.

The staff are friendly and happy to help with any queries you may have about the wines. This is a perfect date venue - you’ll never be lost for things to talk about in here and you can spend as much or as little as you like.