Prosecco is done. Gin is over. Craft beer can do one. London’s most discerning drinkers are all swooning over natural wine. Made without the addition of chemicals or the use of machines, natural wines are celebrated for their irregularities, be that an interesting minerality, an extra subtle acidity or even a bit of grape skin left in the sediment.
Even the colour can be unusual – don’t freak out if you find an ‘orange’ section of the drinks list between ‘white’ and ‘red’. Orange wines are made the same way as white, except that the red grape skins are left in for longer to give extra tannins and a rusty tone. That’s enough wine school for now, though. Here are some great little bars where you can do some liquid learning.
Originally a wine-slash-culture magazine, Noble Rot spawned a fantastic wine bar (and restaurant) in Clerkenwell back in 2015. Thanks to the super-helpful staff even newbies will skip through the 22-page wine list. Restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin is reportedly an investor so unsurprisingly the food is truly excellent, too.
Two pals opened The Remedy in Fitzrovia wanting to replicate continental drinking culture. The result is a bubbly wine bar that’s dedicated to independent producers and helping you to find a new favourite.
Forest Wines is a neighbourhood booze shop that’s worth the trip to E17, especially as they specialise in natural and organic wines. They’re open until 9pm Wed-Sat and hold regular tastings, or visit nearby Forest Wine & Kitchen (Fri and Sat evenings) for a short but excellent menu and lots of wines by the glass.
Leafy, classy Newington Green was always going to welcome a place like Yield N16, which has ‘NATURAL WINES’ written across its big glass frontage and also sells ales, cheese and charcuterie to take home or enjoy at their tables, which overlook the green itself.
Terroirs in Charing Cross was probably the first of this modern wave of excellent London wine bars, and Terroirs East Dulwich (previously known as ToastED) is their dinky south London outpost. All the wines are organic or biodynamic (not quite the same as natural but lots of crossover). Drop in on a Saturday afternoon for a £5 wine flight.
There’s another wine description on the menu at Naughty Piglets in Brixton – low intervention. That refers to winemakers avoiding extra chemicals and machinery. Husband-and-wife team Joe and Margaux have two orange (‘skin contact’) wines by the glass and a wealth of knowledge to share while you drink them.
Considering Sager + Wilde is widely credited with making weird wine cool, its original bar on Hackney Road is surprisingly welcoming. Locals love it but you don’t need to be in-the-know to visit. Order a cheese toastie and a glass of something interesting and enjoy the buzz.
Named after the patterns wine makes on glasses during tasting, Legs is a Hackney restaurant that supports independent producers and chooses wine according to what the owners like to drink. The small plates on the food menu complement what goes in the glasses beautifully.
Small it may be, but Vindinista! is an Acton gem with a massive following of wine enthusiasts. The wry descriptions on the wine list are brought to life by advice from the lovely staff, and the tempting bar food means you can stay until the last tube.
A local favourite since 2010, Fulham’s Vagabond now has six locations, but this pretty, purple-fronted bar and shop is the original. It has a ‘By the Glass’ machine that is like wine tasting self-service. Top up a sort of wine Oyster Card and get stuck into the 100 bottles on offer.
Amazing to see the recent excitement and respect for #Englishwine in the media over the last few weeks! We are mega-proud to be part of this blossoming industry at such an important time. Our legend of a #winemaker @gavmonery has been working hard this past year to create cracking wines which reflect both us here at Vagabond and this amazing city in which we make them. Almost time to bottle the #Bacchus and #PinotNoir rosé (Chardonnay is following behind in no time too)!☀️ #LDN #DiscoverGreatWine #LocalLove . . . . . . . . #LondonWine #WineBar #WineShop #Winery #Winemakers #Create #London #UrbanWinery #VagabondLife #WineLovers #WineFamily #NewProjects #CityLife #Creative #WineWednesday #SeriousFun