I have always felt very fortunate that I get to live in London.
Being a woman in my mid-twenties, I find that this city never ceases to amaze me. The pubs, bars, theater and shopping keep me from ever wanting to leave. I’ve been living here for almost five years now and still feel as though I have barely scratched the surface of all London has to offer.
I have recently made it a personal goal of mine to try and visit a new wine bar weekly, to get myself out of visiting my usual haunts. I love my local bars, but have decided to branch out and explore some new venues. Wine is always in high supply around Europe, and the sheer variety and quality is enough to turn any novice into a connoisseur.
I’m no expert when it comes to wine, but it has always been my drink of choice.
In each bar I visited I would ask for the waitstaff’s recommendation and trust that they probably knew more about their selection than I did. It was easy enough to get friends to accompany me on this “wine bar challenge” since I happen to have a group of friends that often refer to themselves as winos.
1) Our first stop was Gordon’s Wine Bar, which is a short walk from Trafalgar Square.
Gordon’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest bar in London, having been established in 1890. I’ve actually come here several times since my initial visit since I enjoyed it so much. It is located underground with the look and feel of being in a cave. Gordon’s has an extensive wine collection and cheese plates to match. The cheese selection is really what got me hooked! My friend and I split a French Pinot Noir called “Louis Jadot Cotes de Beaune Village.” It was full-bodied and delicious. I’ve tried a few different reds since my initial visit, but the first one is still one of my favorites.
2) The next week I went to visit the wine bar called “10 Cases“.
I live in Covent Garden and have passed this little bar several times and decided it was time to try it out. As the name indicates, the bar only buys 10 cases of wine at a time, meaning the menu is constantly changing. 10 Cases is a rather small bar, with only a few tables so it’s best to make a reservation if you plan on visiting during peak hours. I enjoyed a few glasses of a South African Chenin Blanc, but can’t quite remember the name. Since the bar is so small, I ended up having a conversation with a woman who was actually doing research for opening up her own bar. I was quickly drawn in, mostly out of curiosity as to how you’d even begin. I could see myself opening my own bar one day, once I had enough saved.
Interestingly enough, Anita had said her first step to creating her own place had been a simple 2500 pound cash loan she had applied for online. She went on to say that the procedure was so simple and straightforward that she had the cash a week later and was able to start planning logistically for her future bar. Obviously, 2500 pounds wouldn’t be enough for opening a business, but it did allow her to spend some time in France conducting research at some of the best wineries. While I am far from anywhere near launching my own business, I would love a French holiday to “learn” about, and drink, loads of French wine! A new friend made and a possible connection to the next best bar in London – not too bad for a fun blog experiment.
3) A few days later I found myself squeezed into Jose, the bar on Bermondsey Street.
When I approached the bar I knew it would be a good one due to the fact that it was nearly overflowing with people. Admittedly, it was a quarter to six on a Friday so it was to be expected that places would be quite busy. Miraculously my friend and I were able to find two seats by the bar. What luck! I had to shout a bit for the waiter to take my order, but a few minutes later we were happily tucked into a bottle of Cabernet with several tapas covering our table. I highly recommend the Chorizo Iberico, Patatas Bravas and Croquetas. I absolutely plan on visiting again, perhaps at a slower time in the day.
4) My final bar for the month was Blanchette, located in Soho.
I had done a lot of research online before choosing Blanchette, and had heard that the music and ambiance was top notch. I visited on a Saturday evening around teatime and was not disappointed. Since Blanchette is known for French food, I decided to order the frog legs and went with a modestly priced Sauvignon Blanc. I absolutely adored the food, even went on to order a few more items from the a la carte menu, and found myself really enjoying the atmosphere as my friends and I worked our way through not one, but three bottles of wine! The experience was well worth the headache I had the next morning.
If you are just visiting London for a few days, I highly recommend Gordon’s Wine Bar since it is a truly unique experience.
If you have more time to stay in London, or actually live here, try venturing out to some new spots and I’m sure you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised with the variety the city has to offer. I know I will personally continue this fun challenge of visiting new bars often in order to explore different parts of London and to maybe one day call myself a wine connoisseur. If you happen to know of any amazing places I did not include, please let me know and I’ll add it to my list for next month! For now, all I can say is there can never be a dull moment whenever you go on a adventure in London as the experience is almost always something to write home about.