I must admit that I am hardly a wine expert, but I do have a heartfelt appreciation for the stuff, particularly that fancy one with the bubbles. My parents have always been very interested in wine, and they have instilled this in me from a young age. I am far from a wine snob, but I have vino running through my veins (not from excessive consumption, I might add).
Naturally, my first taste of red wine went something like this. Ten years down the line I am texting my dad to tell him that I actually like red. His response? "Great. How much is that going to cost me?".
In my view, wine is about relaxing and unwinding, and there is something joyous about a glass of crisp white in the summer sunshine. On that note, London Wine Week kicks off tomorrow, the capital's first celebration of wines from the world over.
At the heart of LWW is the pop-up Riedel Hub on the first floor of Kingly Court which will be home to all manner of tasting flights and events during the course of the week. It will also be serving as a rather charming city centre wine bar with an extensive selection of wine by the Riedel glass. The hub is also one of the collection points for the LWW wristband, which offers discounted wines at partnering venues across the city, detailed here.
So whether you are a budding sommelier, or simply like a glass now and again, there is certain to be something to your tastes. Here are my picks for the week:
Riedel Hub, 1st floor Kingly Court; Monday-Saturday 12PM – 9PM; Sunday 12PM – 5PM.
Buy your London Wine Week band here.
A full list of London Wine Week events can be found here.
Fizz Pop Clink
You simply cannot beat a chilled glass of Champagne. It is, in my humble opinion, the elixir of the gods. I personally adore Pol Roger, though am growing rather fond of English sparkling wine offerings such as Nyetimber. If bubbly gets you all abuzz, and you are keen to learn a little about home grown varieties, then be sure to book in a Fast Fizz session at the Riedel Hub this week. With one session on Monday and one on Friday, the 30 minute lunch break tasting is introduced by BBC wine expert Jane Parkinson. What a way to start/end the working week.
Buy your tickets here, £10.
In the buzzing cities of Madrid and Barcelona, there are many wine bars tucked away, just waiting to be discovered. What is perhaps most inviting is the tradition for tapas with evening drinks, particularly sherry. London has wholeheartedly embraced the tapas trend, and is home to a selection of esteemed Spanish eateries. My preferred restaurant is Fino in Fitzrovia, though I am keen to try their bustling Soho tapas joint: Barrafina. If you are fond of Spanish food and drink, then book in for Monday's Chapas Tour, essentially a sherry/tapas bar crawl. The £49 tour begins in Salt Yard, before moving to Fino, Drakes Tabanco, Ember Yard, Copita and finishing up in Barrafina. The ticket price includes sherry and tapas in each spot. Pass the padron peppers and Pedro Ximenez.
To book your spot email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7935 6003.
It's Wine O'Clock
Last but not least, here are some of my dearest wine drinking spots across the city. If you have any other spots, feel free to tweet me some suggestions and I shall be sure to check those out. All in the name of research, of course.
♦ Mark's Bar at Hix: This basement bar is a favourite among Londoners, and with good reason. Of course, the cocktails are superlative (did somebody say coffee negroni?..) but the wine list is also top notch. The bar is intimate with a sexy New York City vibe. 66-70 Brewer St, London W1F 9UP.
♦ Gordons Wine Bar: The oldest wine bar in London, this Villiers Street hub is the ideal spot for visitors to the city. It is also a friendly, unpretentious spot to enjoy a great glass of wine by the river, and maybe a little cheese, if you are feeling indulgent. 47 Villiers St, London WC2N 6NE.
♦ Sager + Wilde: Unpretentious and constantly abuzz, this fresh Hackney spot is everything a wine bar ought to be. The menu changes daily, with a selection of delicious bites to accompany the expertly edited, reasonably priced wine list. My pick of the list is the Californian Zinfadel (£9). 193 Hackney Road, London, E2 8JL.
♦ The Quality Chop House: Established in 1869, The Quality Chop House is an authentic dining room and butchers in Farringdon, just as the name suggests. However, the restaurant also has a relaxed wine bar with chequered floors and a seasonal menu of bites. They have around 125 wines to choose from, so this is a must for wine buffs. 92-94 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3EA.
NORTH AND WEST:
♦ Negozio Classica: With bars in Westbourne Grove and Primrose Hill, two of London's prettiest spots, it is little wonder that I am such a fan of these authentic Italian wine bars. I love Italian wine, having holidayed in Tuscany from a young age, and Negozio Classica is part-owned by Avignonesi, one of the finest Tuscan wineries. I am particularly fond of the Westbourne Grove spot, which is always full of Notting Hill's stylish sorts. Start with an Aperol Spritz– it's the best in the city. 283 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London W11 2QA.
♦ Soif: A sister bar to the popular Terroirs wine bar on The Strand, this petit French wine bar and bistro is a little gem on Battersea Rise. The interior is peppered with quirky flea market finds, giving the venue a relaxed charm. The biodynamic wine list is good, and the staff know their stuff which is helpful for those who don't (c'est moi). 27 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1HG.
♦ The Southsider Cocktail Club: Though strictly not a wine bar (okay, not at all), this cocktail spot deserves a mention as it is my favourite place south of the river. Tucked away on Battersea Rise, this inconspicuous spot has a rather exciting, inventive cocktail menu, along with some superlative spirits. Because I am a creature of habit, I always go for a Negroni, but this week I shall have an Aperol Spritz as it has wine in it... Sort of. 55 Battersea Rise, London, SW11 1EG.