It's lazy to assume that the 7,000+ (and counting) bars on offer to the inhabitants of Greater London all stock wine as amazing as some of the design aesthetics that adorn and hang from their every wall, ceiling and toilet. Sadly, many wines don't match their incredible interiors.
Price is not a true reflection of a great wine either. Sidling up to a counter and ordering the most expensive wine you see on the menu doesn't always denote a great wine. In fact, it might not even be the best wine on that street. Choice isn't necessarily equal to taste either so it's up to those who tread the tiled floors of dimly lit bars at ungodly hours to rack up an intricate list for you - assuming that you of course, don't have the time or inclination to visit the thousands of bars yourself. If you manage - please let me know.
One must approach selecting a bar and wine the same way one might approach the organising of a week's work calendar. Which means identifying a block of time available, a steely focus and a mission statement: to sit, sip and enjoy.
Just like in fashion, fads fade; so it's always best to avoid trying to look like an expert by attempting to list the latest and greatest the wine world has to offer. Instead, stick to what you know and like. With that being said, if you're interested in wine then you should stretch your parameters. Find out the family of flavours, fruits, flowers and colours that inspire your palette and expand, expand, expand on that knowledge.
I'm not an expert by any means but if you're partial to a heavy full-bodied red wine then I'd suggest trying the 2006 French Cote du Rhone and a Shiraz from Australia's Hunter Valley.
For lovers of sweet, fruity whites - go with the Gewurztraminer, Alsace from Germany which has a lovely lychee taste to it.
To try a wide variety of wines in bars with attitude, atmosphere and aplomb, then you can't go past this shortlist my friends and I visit time and time again. See you there!
Beautifully tucked away in a courtyard accessible via an alley at the foot of Pentonville Road, this is an Andalucían-themed bar dedicated to sherry. It's tiny (like all great Spanish bars) with room for only a few tables, all shaped from sherry casks. Varnishers Yard, (Regents Quarter), N1 9FD
Try a vast selection by the glass - or by the sip. 127-129 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LP
The Ground Floor here is inspired by the Parisian wine bars. It has a natural bustling, fast-paced atmosphere with wine found from small growers in Southern Europe.
5 William IV Street, WC2N 4DW
Opened in 2010, this classically relaxed wine bar is void of pretentious crowds and know-it-alls. Great for the shop price wine deals on offer.
7 Saint John Street, EC1M 4AA
Great with its newly refurbished bar and a brand new modern look. Serves up a drinker-friendly wine list. There's a wine shop next door, so all the bottles are offered at competitive retail prices - kicking off at £15 for a Mâcon-Villages from Louis Jadot. Expect a flowing, inviting and lively atmosphere.
47 Hollywood Road, London, SW10 9HX
If you prefer to stay in, then do visit Noble Fine Liquor on Broadway Market. It's run by two young Kiwis and it's where you'll find natural wines from the Loire as well as rare Burgundy and New Zealand's Pyramid Valley.
There's something for everyone in London, Just avoid saying that line - "Pour any Merlot, and I'm leaving." It's dated .....And I love Merlot.
Want more advice from the people in the know? Visit Formula Wine