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"Bottoms Up", London style at 10 of the best London wine bars



Wine bars in London are ten a penny, but here is a list of ten great ones scattered all over the heart of the city, from East to West, where you can while away hours drinking your way around the world, attending tastings, or eating a slap up meal to accompany some beautiful velvety reds, or crisp, tangy whites. If you want old style glamour coupled with travel and stations, then you could do worse than head to Searcys at St Pancras Stations Grand Terrace. If you want to try tiny producers, or even a bottle from a fellow customer who may have discovered a gem on holiday and wants to sell it through a wine bar, then 28-50 degrees is for you. If you want old style London, home comfort cooking, then the Grape Street Wine Bar won't disappoint. If you want to take a bottle or two home of what you tried out over the course of the evening then one of El Vino's bars, and shops, might take your fancy. One of London's biggest wine bars, and sellers is Vinoteca. Many of the wine bars in London are located on or near the river, and that's because the cellars beneath them that have been storing wine for over 100 years are perfectly acclimatized for the job. Cheers and bottoms up!


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This is a pretty wine bar, and restaurant in the heart of Belgravia, just a short walk from Victoria station. Travellers who have been here are generally satisfied, both for solo dinners, and meeting up with friends. You can have a range of wines from around the world and the kind of light continental fare that restaurants like to serve. It is well executed but doesn't offer many surprises. Run by a husband and wife team, who like to choose the wines, menu and decor themselves, this has the air of a well to do home from home. Catering for a slightly older, well heeled crowd, what the restaurant does it does well. The head chef used to be at Chez Gerard, and is from France so well trained for the classics.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Ebury wine bar does French food and wine well with a well trained head chef in a friendly atmosphere.

Local Expert tip: This is a good solid restaurant which gives you a family feeling of loyalty. Last orders are 15 minutes before they close at 10.30pm.

Read more about Ebury Wine Bar →


9
Holland Park


Sitting in Julies wine bar and restaurant you will often spy famous people stroll by, or even pop in for a light snack. Come here to recreate the kind of feeling that you get when you watch the film Notting Hill, or after a spot of shopping in nearby Holland Park, and Portobello Road. Easy to get to, this bar is just a short walk from Holland Park Tube, and situated in a lovely part of West London. You can meet friends for a light lunch in summer, and sit outside, or pop in for a warming dinner in winter and while away the hours at cosy candlelit tables. Even if this is your first time in this bar, you will feel somehow like it's your local regular haunt, with a touch of parisian glamour and relaxed London life to it, it's the perfect spot to sip wine and think, talk or socialise.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Julies is a great place to eat and drink in West London, after, during or before shopping.

Local Expert tip: This is simultaneously a place to see and be seen, but utterly discrete, cosy and romantic too. The perfect mix in a beautiful part of London.

Read more about Julie's →




Created in the 1870s, El Vino is another of London's old style wine bars. With a tiny shop front, and off licence on Fleet Street, this is a great place to sit and drink, or just pop in and pick up a bottle or two, or perhaps a case for a dinner party in the evening or at the weekend. There are over 200 wines available and being near the river, the shop, bar, has a great temperate wine cellar in the bowels of the building. Being on Fleet Street, the bar, shop, was a famous haunt of Fleet Street (newspaper, and news agency editors) when that part of town was the place where they were all gathered. Today almost all of the media organisations have flown further afield, and the area is now dominated by lawyers, and judges, but it's still a favourite haunt for local workers.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: El Vino pairs great history with delicious wines in an intimate atmosphere.

Local Expert tip: El Vino is perfect for a great night out with friends, or for some expert advice on the best bottles, or crates, to buy for a dinner party at home.

Read more about El Vino Fleet Street →


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As you might expect from the name, this wine bar, just South of London's Covent Garden Market focuses on French and Italian 'naturally produced' wines. The wine list is 27 pages long, which tells you something about the range and breadth of the wines on offer. They have an ever changing wine of the month which allows you to try out new tastes, and lots of wines from small producers. Because they like naturally produced wines, you can also tell yourself that you are being healthy too! The restaurant has about 15 wines by the glass, so it's better to go and try a bottle once you've been a few times, if you want some variety. The staff are happy to recommend too, and help you select that all important wine to accompany your meal, or perhaps the other way round.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Terroirs specialises in natural wines so that you can tell yourself you are being healthy whilst sampling some smaller producers wines from all over Europe.

Local Expert tip: Terroirs has the reputation to be frequented by wine lovers and gastronomes, so you are in good company when you go here for a little pre or post theatre tipple.

Read more about Terroirs →


Vinoteca
Photo courtesy of Vinoteca


Once a mainstay of the after-hours scene in the capital, London's wine bars were eventually replaced in popularity by gastropubs and the enduring charms of the good old British boozer. In recent years, a new breed of wine bar has emerged that, unlike their Eighties predecessors, are definitely more substance than style. Vinoteca (with branches in Marylebone and Farringdon) is one such establishment. Inspired by wine bars in Spain and Italy (known as vinotecas and enotecas respectively), Vinoteca lists nearly 300 wines. Food-wise, there's plenty of nibble options (try a selection of Jabago cured meats, almonds and olives, £7.50) as well as a range of enticing main courses such as pan seared scallops, salsify, romanesco, chorizo and Serrano ham (£12.50). Each dish comes with a considered wine recommendation.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Vinoteca is one of London's biggest wine bars, fun for a night out, it is good for recommendations and take home bottles too.

Local Expert tip: Inspired by wine bars in Spain and Italy (known as vinotecas and enotecas respectively), Vinoteca lists nearly 300 wines.

Read more about Vinoteca →




Searcys has a number of branches around London now, but the champagne bar on the Grand Terrace at St Pancras international got a lot of attention when it opened. Think grand old station, updated for the 21st century, with a fast and glamourous connection to Paris, and you will start to understand why it's so attractive to stop off here in this bustling metropolis for a chilled glass of perfect bubbles before embarking on an exciting, possibly romantic, journey. This is old style glamour, and what better way to accompany it than with a glass of champagne. As well as a place for people to pop in to, this has also become a destination bar for those wanting a bit of that sparkle in London. The bar offers jazz evenings, champagne tastings and menu launches. You can eat a set menu here, have a nibble, or just enjoy a glass.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Searcys in St Pancras, takes you back in time, and away from the rush.

Local Expert tip: This is not just a place to start or end your journey, but a destination bar with a twist of thirties glamour.

Read more about Searcys Champagne Bar →




Grape St Wine Bar on London's Shaftesbury Avenue, is an old style wine bar, but peopled with those who love their wine and love to have fun with it. From trendy hipster students to relics from the fifties and sixties bohemian London who want to sit downstairs in a comfy old bar and savour a bottle of claret or chablis with some hearty tasty food, or a plate of nibbles. This might not have the top of the range big starry names in it, in the wine world that is, but this avoids also the tourist crowd and those brought in by those kinds of wine. This is an honest, you get what you see, wine bar, without pretensions.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Grape Street Wine Bar is London wine bar old style, comforting food, books and familiar yummy wines, reasonably priced.

Local Expert tip: The bar even has its own little library, so you can while away hours reading and sipping if the mood takes you.

Read more about Grape Street Wine Bar →


3
Leicester Square


The Cork and Bottle had to be included on a list of London's wine bars for the name alone. But apart from the great name, and the central location, the Cork and Bottle prides itself on fresh tasty food, and innovative wines from all over the world. You can eat, and drink, at any time of day, and reservations can be made before 6.30pm in the evening, after that it's on a first come first served basis, but there's always the bar where you can settle down for a little drink whilst you wait for a table if you fancy making it a long night. One wine industry insider called their wine list "a book" which reads well, and the restaurant says, although it describes the wines, it doesn't like to tell you what they should taste like, it wants you to make your mind up on that score yourself.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Cork and Bottle is the perfect name for a wine bar, and this one goes the distance in an already crowded market in London.

Local Expert tip: The Cork and Bottle makes learning about wine fun and never intimidating. If you can't get to their bar, restaurant, you can go online to read articles about the owner's latest trips to wine countries all over the world, and also order direct too.

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Gordon's wine bar advertises itself as London's oldest wine bar. Tucked away just behind the embankment, with its darkened windows and narrow entrance, you get the impression of dusty old bottles, and rare finds tucked away here that you could spend gloomy sunday afternoons discovering. The bar also does wine tastings at regular intervals and boasts a full list of different wines from around the world, many reasonably priced, at least compared to other London bars. For summer days, there is also a lovely new terrace where you can sit outside and enjoy classical London splendour and greenery whilst you sip your wine.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: Gordon's bills itself as London's oldest wine bar, it is favoured by locals and tourists because of its wide range and friendly atmosphere.

Emma's expert tip: The restaurant doesn't take telephone bookings, and it can get busy after work on Fridays, but it's definitely worth a visit.

Read more about Gordon's Wine Bar →


28-50 degrees
Photo courtesy of 28-50 Wine Bar, Fetter Lane, London


28-50 Degrees' name comes from the latitude in the world in which wine is grown. This is a wine bar with two locations in London, one in Clerkenwell,on Fetter Lane, and the other in Marylebone. They serve over 30 wines by the glass, and to accompany your wine, they have an ever changing menu of French bistro food and charcuterie. The bar's creator, Xavier Rousset is an expert sommelier, and according to 28-50s website, he knows 30 ways to open a bottle of wine, so just go and ask him! The list of 30 different wines also changes regularly. The bar has a special 'collectors list' of wines from friends of theirs and select vineyards, often bottles that are not available to buy elsewhere. Lastly, if you have a special wine to sell, you can bring along a bottle for the management to try, and they'll sell it for you.

Recommended for Wine Bars because: 28-50 degrees is serious about wine, and helps its clients discover small vineyards and delicious new tastes from all around the world.

Local Expert tip: 28-50 runs regular workshops and wine tasting sessions, and by prior arrangement you can even bring your own special bottle of wine to drink there with the food, although a 15 pound corkage charge is applied, and only one bottle per couple.

Read more about 28-50 degrees →


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Meet Emma Wallis

London gives Emma a warm fuzzy feeling every time she gets back to her home city. As a writer and broadcaster she travels extensively round Europe and the world, but is always happy to return to...  More About Emma

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