You don’t need a degree in Oenology to recognise the pleasures of wine, especially when paired with cheese. The two have been served together for generations, wooing and tickling tongues. If you wish to surpass the knowledge of the average wine drinker and cheese fanatic, casually offering tasting notes and suggesting pairings while perched on a Panton at your best mate’s new flat in De Beauvoir Town, then London’s multifaceted and spankingly good cheese and wine scene is a great place to start. With that said, we’ve prepared and sourced out the city’s best cheese and wine bars for you to try.
Small, rustic and cosy, Le Bouchon is the quintessential wine bar you hope to spontaneously stumble upon on a sporadic trip to Paris (or Blackheath). The menu covers everything, from charcuterie and cheese to typical French beef bourguignon, a wonderful compliment to the wines on show. Although not so handily located in south-east London, it’s definitely worth that extra stop or two on the train, which you can easily jump on from London Bridge. From there, it’s about a seven-minute journey. It’s worth getting in early or reserving a table, as it gets very busy at peak times. Tip: Epoisses Fermier is similar to Brie in terms of texture, but it’s a lot more flavoursome and very difficult to find in the rest of the UK. Best served with red, opt for a reasonably priced carafe of something bodied and fruity for the full expérience.
Address: 72 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, London SE3 0BN
Expect cheese boards galore at La Fromagerie, a sophisticated cheese and wine bar located right in the heart of Bloomsbury. The menu is replete with various cheeses from France, Italy, the UK and Ireland, accompanied by an extensive wine list to compliment your board of choice—so it’s best to come with an open mind. Fear not, you can mix and match the various boards if Bleu des Causses isn’t your thing. The candlelit interior makes it a great date location and the vibe is eminently upmarket owed to the sleek interiors. Tip: Lesser-known artisanal cheeses are available to purchase and take home. Take your pick.
Address: 52 Lamb’s Conduit St, London WC1N 3LL
For a peaceful oasis away from the general hustle and bustle of the Hackney and Clapton area, spend a tranquil afternoon at Les Nenettes. Cafe by day, restaurant by night, this charming and French-focused spot exudes typical Parisian qualities, including a gorgeous terrace, classic checked flooring and the smell of quality coffee wafting through the air upon arrival. Killer croque monsieurs and delicious duck confit are available throughout the day, but it’s the select choice of cheeses served with a bed of fresh bread and a carefully curated wine menu that will have you hooked. Tip: Bethmale cheese is the right kind of creamy and ideal for anyone who enjoys particularly pungent flavours.
Address: 19 Lower Clapton Rd, London E5 0NS
Founded in 2010 in Fulham, Vagabond has expanded in recent years to five other central locations, including Charlotte Street and Victoria. The cleverly designed wine dispensing machines offer a playful quirk to the bar’s contemporary character, encouraging guests to analyse and test their favourites out of the 100 wines available on tap. The interiors are based on traditional European wineries, featuring contemporary rustic walls stripped back to their original brickwork. Exotic plants decorate various corners to compliment the relaxed beige and brown palette similar to the duplicitous shades of a cork. Tip: The charcuterie board is substantial and a perfect sharer.
Address: 25 Charlotte Street, London W1T 1RW
Sager & Wilde
Sipping vino and celebrating craft in an industrial setting might sound odd, but it works. Previously a grotty Edwardian pub on Hackney Road, Sager & Wilde has been transformed without losing any of the building’s rugged character and charm. The menu is loaded with indulgent choices, from nibbly nocellara olives to full-on cheese boards, charcuterie sharing plates and upmarket toasties. Prior to the bar’s opening in 2013, the owners of Sager & Wilde worked on vineyards in South America and California, so you can expect a scrupulous and conscientious wine list from lesser-known regions. Tip: The space is relatively small which gives it an intimate vibe. Make sure to reserve your spot in advance to avoid missing out.
Address: 193 Hackney Rd, London E2 8JL