They say beer is proof God loves us but wine is the reason it doesn’t matter if he does or not.
Whether you’re into brassy salt-of-the-earth South African reds, delicate Picpoul de Pinet’s or couldn’t care less what it is, so long as it’s cold, these marvellous spots will keep you well hydrated well after we’ve given Spain its weather back.
Upstairs, downstairs: Social Wine & Tapas has a bright, airy room upstairs and, when you want to hide away, a full restaurant downstairs1. Social Wine & Tapas
Wonderfully central – and hence ideal for a post-work drink – Jason Atherton’s new opening has a wine list that is extensive as it can be expensive. There are some interesting serves, while rosé here is proper stuff, too: no it’s-pale-so-it-must-be-good plonk that’s currently on trend but quite often horrid. If you’re not entirely sure what to go for, all the staff we spoke to knew their stuff, so take a recommendation. Upstairs is bright, open, relaxed while downstairs is a hideaway from the sweaty streets. The food is mostly excellent, so have a small plate or two to go with your glass or six.
Find it: 39 James St, W1U 1DL, jasonatherton.co.uk
2. 10 Cases
Ten cases may leave you a little woozy: they’ve wine by the glass, carafe and bottle and the list always features 10 reds, 10 whites and a rosé. (Un)fortunately, it’s too easy to go from “let’s be good and only have a carafe” and end up slurring that “another can’t hurt”. Still, the wine is always good, the charcuterie built for nibbles and, if you’re lucky enough to grab one of the few outside seats, you won’t want to leave. Fronted with glass, the inside is light and summery too.
Find it: 16 Endell St, WC2H 9BD, 10cases.co.uk
3. Inn the Park
Peyton and Byrne have transformed this summer eatery and recently introduced a terrific rosé list. It’s a beautiful spot surrounded by the sheer summer gorgeousness of St James’s Park, so you’ll look out over overgrown grasses and the lake. There’s plenty of seating outside and if the weather turns, a large restaurant to enjoy indoors too.
Find it: St James’s Park, SW1A 2BJ, peytonandbyrne.co.uk
A good summer wine den should ideally take you abroad and Opso does just that: this Greek restaurant have been making a feature of their bar for a few months now and feature the longest Greek wine list in London. Seriously: there are pages and pages of names you won’t be able to pronounce. Which means you’ll end up finding something unusual that will practically drive you to to Gatwick and stick you on the next flight to Corfu. Glorious.
Find it: 10 Paddington St, W1U 5QL, opso.co.uk
Light, airy, full of booze: New Street Wine Bar5. New St Wine Shop
A wine shop they may be, but a wine bar is where they really win. With picnic-style snacks from as little as £3 (think sausage rolls and scotch eggs) and enough wine to stun the entire population of drunken uncles, the New St Wine Shop is a must-see. There are plenty of wines sold by the glass here, and with none of the risk of them being off: the team use wine dispensers, rather than leaving the bottles open, which keeps the wine fresher for longer. It also means you can taste a couple before you buy, which is good news for those of us who are often torn between a few (even if one invariably ends up ordering them all anyway).
Find it: 16 New St, EC2M 4TR, newstreetwineshop.co.uk
A London institution, little needs to be said about Gordon’s, except to mention that the outdoor tables always fill up within moments of any nearby office shutting for the evening. Still, you’ll probably meet someone interesting on the table you’ll end up sharing and the sun always seems to shine on its little strip of terrace – though of course, that could just be the wine talking.
Find it: 47 Villiers St, WC2N 6NE, gordonswinebar.com
All about the views: Oxo Tower7. Oxo Tower
Views, views, views: the Oxo Tower has unspoilt and entirely marvellous views over the Thames that are up there with the best in London. Yes, it’s expensive here, but the faultless service is well worth it and the wine list caters for all tastes. They’ve even got an excellent selection of English wines, too: if you don’t fancy champagne, the restaurant has a signature English fizz from Digby that seems custom built for strawberries and long, decadent evenings getting squiffy to the sunset.
Find it: Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH, oxotowerrestaurant.com
8. Sager + Wilde
This popular Hackney spot has earned its excellent reputation by serving an ever-changing menu at reasonable prices. Again, it’s worth asking for a recommendation or trying the wine of the day. Sit back with a cheeseboard (or, when the British “summer” returns, a cheese toastie), and try something you won’t get anywhere else.
Find it: 193 Hackney Rd, E2 8JL, sagerandwilde.com
9. Corney & Barrow Devonshire Terrace
There are, of course, a few city types here, but the outside terrace is well worth it: a sun-trap, there’s often just enough room to squeeze in. They often show sports, if that’s your thing, and if you’re feeling like splashing out, have a hand-picked selection of fine wines.