Offering laidback, continental-style charm that just can’t be conjured with your typical sit-down dinner, the capital’s best wine bars are more about sipping and nibbling than a 3-course bonanza. And sometimes, that’s exactly what the occasion calls for: so prime yourself for the popping of corks, clinking of glasses, and some of the best grapes this side of Bordeaux.
1. Humble Grape Book Humble Grape
Though the name dumbs down its offering, the care and attention that goes into compiling Humble Grape’s offering ensures they’ve emerged as forces to be reckoned with in the world of wine. Alongside their 30 wines available by the carafe and 250 available by the bottle, Humble Grape offers a range of artisan small plates and sharing platters. There is also a sister site in Battersea.
2. WC Clapham Book WC
Nestled beneath the streets of south west London, WC Clapham brings a diverse stock of wines to a restored public loo. Thankfully, the only evidence of its former guise is the original tiling and some restored porcelain pieces, and there’s also an above-ground al fresco area for summertime imbibing/if you’re a bit can’t deal with the toilet connections.
3. Vinoteca Book Vinoteca
With sites dotted across London’s compass points, Vinoteca presents a 300-bottle-strong wine list, and, unlike its snackier counterparts, boasts a full British a la carte menu. As well as Michelin guide praise, Vinoteca boasts various awards for its prized wine list, and hosts tasting sessions frequented by both connoisseurs and those new to wine. Book Vinoteca in Soho, Farringdon, King’s Cross, Marylebone and Chiswick.
4. Gordon’s Wine Bar
Established in 1890 and London’s oldest wine bar, Gordon’s tops many a list of must-visit sites in London. Descend the narrow staircase into this infinitely cosy lair and select from Gordon’s encyclopaedic wine list, or sit out on the sprawling terrace in summer. Gordon’s also boasts a list of cheeses that will make fromage fiends weak at the knees.
5. Planet of the Grapes Book Planet of the Grapes
Any word-play restaurant name gets the Bookatable nod of approval, especially when punning standards are this high. Planet of the Grapes presents a cellar of 300 wines alongside its Spanish-leaning menu, as well as gourmet bar snacks and their famous sharing platters.
6. El Vino Book El Vino
A London watering hole since 1879, El Vino Blackfriars is an intimate 2-floor hideaway, with an expansive al fresco area for warmer days. The list of Old and New World wines runs into the hundreds, and the food menu consists of pick ‘n’ mix tapas and Mediterranean-style sharing boards. Similar top-notch wine sipping can be enjoyed at El Vino’s sister wine bar, El Vino Fleet Street.
7. Champagne Charlies Book Champagne Charlies
Found tucked underneath Charing Cross Station, Champagne Charlies stocks the extensive Davy’s stock of wines and champagnes. Alongside a mammoth cellar of champagnes and Davy’s cherry-picked wines, guests can select from a menu of hearty British classics, like fish & chips, bangers & mash, or steak from a Royal Warrant-holding butchers.
8. Galvin Le Cellar Bar Book Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
Found nestled directly underneath Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, Le Cellar Bar could be plucked directly out of 1920s Paris. Along with a range of bubbles by the glass and an impressive stock of wines, Le Cellar Bar presents a list of bespoke cocktails designed by highly acclaimed bar consultant, Giancarlo Mancino.
9. Boot and Flogger Book Boot & Flogger
Dating back to 1964, Boot & Flogger is the original wine destination from the acclaimed Davy’s fleet. Guests can choose from a list spanning from easy-drinking bottles to rarely seen vintages, while the food menu features a host of hearty British comfort food dishes.
10. Noble Rot
Found within a building dating back to 1700, Noble Rot’s charming wine bar serves up an array of simple small plates, while the library of wines spans from difficult-to-track-down gems and vintages from the world’s most celebrated wine regions.