The Best Places To Drink Wine in London

Not long ago, drinking great wine in London generally required going to a fancy restaurant or sitting in a dreary room more reminiscent of an uninspired executive’s office than any proper notion of a modern watering hole. Thankfully, a lot has changed. Over the past few years the city has seen an influx of young talent and creative restaurateurs updating not only the notion of how one drinks wine in London, but what they drink. Below is a list of some of city’s new avant-garde, a collection of bars and restaurants selected for the passionate people behind them, their emphasis on value and, most importantly, because they lack of the formality and pomp that hampered wine in London for way too long. Each has something different to offer, too, whether it be a deep selection of sherries where you’d least expect it or a wine-fueled dance floor that rages well into the morning. —Alex Tutto

  • 1

    40 Maltby Street

    Situated in a railway arch in what, until very recently, was a particularly quiet area of Bermondsey, 40 Maltby Street's spartan, no-nonsense space is an oasis for lovers of real wine and product-driven cooking. The food of chef Steve Williams is firmly rooted in Britain and its seasons, and is some of the best in town. Game, when it is around, is particularly good here and owner Raef Hodgson always has something great open to wash it all down, whether it’s a nimble, thirst-slaking gamay from Vincent Tricot or the wonderful Slovenian wines of Aleks Klinec. And on a cold winter’s night don't leave leave without a ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • outdoors / patio
  • 2

    Brawn

    Brawn sits on a particularly leafy stretch of Columbia Road on what must be one of the loveliest corners in London. Having long been a sure bet for honest cooking and real wines, since chef Ed Wilson took over earlier in 2015, it has become the spot for visiting winemakers, sommeliers, wine geeks and locals alike. The menu places an emphasis on great organic produce, and the cooking pays testament to this, whether it is a single Cantabrian anchovy atop a frigatelli pepper, housemade torta fritta draped with most remarkable lardo or a tartare of tuna dressed with little more than colatura di alici and capers from ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • natural wine
    • good wine
  • 3

    Brilliant Corners

    This left-of-center wine bar boasts an epic analogue audophile sound system that plays host to a rotating cast of DJs who come to play here each week, including Balaeric favorites Phil Mison and Bobby Beige, as well as locals Thomas Bullock and Johnny Bones. While the roster and system are as good as any club in town, the wine list is the real surprise, with natural gems like Benjamin Zidarich’s Vitovska and Tom Shobbrook’s Golden Circle sitting alongside a great selection of mezcal and beers from local breweries. The late hours and good times mean that this where you’ll find many of London’s wine trade winding down ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • natural wine
    • bar food
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
  • 4

    Burro e Salvia

    Pound for pound, Shoreditch pastificio Burro e Salvia might just have the best wine list of any Italian restaurant in town. Each day, in plain view, the sfoglie roll out, slice and mold London’s best pasta. You can buy it by the weight to take away, or do the right thing and grab a table at the back and take advantage of a one-page wine list that is impossible to not drink well from. There is proper vermouth, wild Lambrusco from Paltrinieri and a page crammed with wines from some of Italy’s most famous artisan producers, like La Stoppa, Foradori and more.  Impeccably sourced salumi and cheese lead the way to a tight ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • Italian wine
    • low wine markups
  • 5

    P. Franco

    This tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it wine bar and shop was started by the folks behind the Broadway Market wine store Noble Fine Liquor. Like at the mothership, there is a wonderful mix of classic and more obscure offerings—be it champagne from young gun Raphaël Bérèche, Chablis from Thomas Pico or more esoteric wines from the likes of Massa Vecchia in coastal Tuscany. The food offering is limited only in its scope, as the quality dwarfs just about any place in town. The bread is from Elliot’s, the cheese from Mons, the salumi from the Ham & Cheese Company, the butter from Bordier and the olive oil from a rotating cast ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
  • 6

    Primeur

    Primeur—which sits on a sleepy, leafy street not far from Clissold Park—is the sort of joint you wish was in your neighborhood. A stunning space built into an old garage with original door intact, which, on clear days, opens to the street allowing for the crowd to spew out onto on large communal tables. Owner Jeremie Cometto-Ligenheim selects around a dozen wines to be poured by-the-glass daily, a unique approach that allows him to list rare bottlings from producers like Domaine de Bellivière in the Loire or the Savoie’s Gilles Berlioz without risking them being pillaged from a wine list. Further, being free from the ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
  • 7

    The Quality Chop House

    The Quality Chop House was founded in 1869 and has been in business ever since. Although the name and much of the interior remains the same, it’s unlikely it has ever been as good as it is now. The heritage-protected building is split in two; on one side is the dining room, where you can settle in for daily set menus celebrating the best of British produce; and on the other is the bar where you can just grab a hunk of cheese and some salumi or sit down to grouse with all the trimmings. As the name suggests, chef Shaun Searley’s menu focuses on rare breeds and choice cuts, which are aged in house and selected daily ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • vintage wine
    • day drinking
    • historic
  • 8

    Toast

    Toast is a neighborhood restaurant and wine shop that over-delivers in every way. You can pop in and grab a litre of organic Syrah from Rhône cooperative D'Estézargues to take home, sit at the bar with a beer from the excellent list of local brewers and a slab of terrine served with housemade bread or settle in for a blowout meal from one of the best young chefs in town. Michael Hazlewood has worked in some of the world’s great kitchens and the food he turns out from his wood oven here is a real treat. Naturally, there is a wine list to match and staff here are particularly switched on, meaning it's best to let them ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • natural wine
  • 9

    Trangallan

    Tucked away opposite a fish and chip shop on Newington Green, Trangallan is not the most likely place to find what is perhaps the most interesting list of Spanish wines in the city. The brainchild of Galician sommelier Xabi Alvarez and friends, the restaurant’s weathered walls and creaky floorboards, seats and tables make it one of the more pleasant spots to grab a glass in town. Alvarez is particularly passionate about vermouth and sherry and keeps plenty of bottles open by-the-glass; take his lead here and order a few anchovies and a little mojama while you delve into the list proper, which includes everything ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • good wine
    • low wine markups
    • outdoor / patio
  • 10

    Verden

    Out in deepest Clapton, Ed Wyand and Tom Bell’s Verden would not be out of place in one of Copenhagen’s hippest neighborhoods. There is a real attention to detail here, from an incredible selection of charcuterie and cheese, warm lighting and perhaps London’s best selection of wines by the glass, all at ridiculously fair prices. Whether you want straight-classic Chablis from Dauvissat, the legendary wines of Paolo Bea or the best of Australia’s new school, the boys have you covered. In summer you can sit on the terrace, perhaps with a bottle of Julien Courtois’ Ancestral and a perky young Loire goat’s cheese, and ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • outdoors / patio

Tagged: London, wine lists

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