The term “natural wine” refers to wine made with as little interference in the process as possible. This means no, or little, pesticides and herbicides are used in its production, and the wine is allowed to evolve in a natural way instead. This does alter the taste. It brings a greater sense of place to the wine as the taste is influenced by the vines and the earth they grow in.
Though some people, including wine experts, are on the fence about whether it makes a better wine or not, there’s no doubt natural wine is gaining popularity. It’s becoming so popular that wine bars dedicated to this one type of wine can now be found all over the UK. Wine bars that don’t specialize often have a section on their wine list just for natural wine.
Wherever you go in the UK, you’ll find a wine bar that serves natural wine. To help find one near you, here are seven fabulous natural wine bars to explore in the UK.
Fittingly for a wine bar, Lilac can be found in a 400-year-old cellar that really does feel like an old wine cellar in the pretty seaside town of Lyme Regis in Dorset. Soft furnishings and rustic décor bring a coziness to Lilac that makes it the perfect place for sipping a few new wines. There’s a general feeling to the cellar of being amongst the aging process of the wine and it’s a unique setting for a wine bar. Lilac also serves small plates and there’s an emphasis on local produce, including the wine, which is mostly low-intervention locally-produced wine.
What To Order At Lilac
I’d recommend trying the Birdscape red wine from Christian Tschida. Christian has a reputation for being a character, and his wine is no different. He’s not local to Dorset, he’s actually from Austria, but this natural wine is a firm favorite at Lilac. It has a bright color due to the wine spending less time with the grape skins, and it’s also low in tannins, better for anyone who finds red wine a bit heavy.
Leroy in Shoreditch, London, is the invention of sommelier and restaurateur Ed Thaw. Ed knows his wines and he has produced a comprehensive list that’s a joy to browse. There’s a laid-back atmosphere at Leroy, a wine bar and restaurant where you can enjoy the ambiance and — while trying a glass of wine or two — flick through Ed’s vinyl collection on display at the bar. Not every bottle of wine on the list here is natural, but you can ask for guidance from staff if you need a recommendation.
What To Order At Leroy
My own recommendation would be the Brut Nature Cava Corpinnat ‘Terrers’ 2017, Recaredo Penedès. It is a little pricey, but it’s a good alternative to champagne made organically in Spain with minimal additives and interference. Cava sometimes has a reputation for being cheap and cheerful, but this wine is complex and delicate, proving that cava can be taken seriously.
3. Humble Grape
Humble Grape is a collection of five wine bars spread across London, one in Islington, Fleet Street, Canary Wharf, Battersea, and Liverpool Street. The focus at Humble Grape is sustainability and they are dedicated to importing the best organic, sustainable, and natural wines from small family-run wineries across the world. The result is an impressive collection, which you can try in the wine bar and buy to take home with you.
What To Order At Humble Grape
There’s a wide range of natural wines available at Humble Grape and anyone visiting should try a few out before buying a bottle. You should definitely give the La Liquière, Les Amandiers Rosé, 2020, Faugères, Languedoc a go. The Vidal family has been making wines in France since the 1700s, so they know a thing or two about winemaking. This wine has a delicate taste of summer fruits that really does transport you to France.
4. Bottle & Jug
At Bottle & Jug, they do things differently. Strictly speaking, this isn’t a wine bar. It’s a bottle shop, and they don’t only sell wine, in fact, their focus is mostly on craft beer. They do, however, stock a good selection of natural wines, and they are passionate about this subject. As well as being able to pop in and browse the shelves of bottles, you can enjoy a glass in the shop on weekends. Bottle & Jug hosts regular “drink-in” weekends when they open up as a bar. You can pop in and try some wines by the glass and buy some to take home with you.
What To Order At Bottle & Jug
The tricky thing with a bottle shop like this is the stock changes. While they might have the wine you like this week, it could be gone and replaced next week. If you can get it, try the 2020 Kindeli Nelson Blanco by Alex Craighead from New Zealand. It’s quite herby and citrusy. The fruit used to make the wine is grown organically on small plots of land in Upper Moutere in Nelson.
5. Wine Freedom
Wine Freedom is a quirky place, but it’s great for discovering and trying some new natural wines. The building is industrial in design and clearly once had a more industrial past. It’s spacious and airy, an unusual setting for a wine bar. But then again, this isn’t really a wine bar. Wine Freedom is more of a wine destination. They serve small plates with your natural wine, they host events and tastings, and you can hire the venue for private parties and other events. Or, you can just go along and buy some wine.
What To Order At Wine Freedom
Just like a bottle shop, the wines at Wine Freedom alter week by week, and when one has sold out, you might not see it again. This does keep things interesting and you’re always sure of finding something new, but if you like a wine you’ve tasted here, better buy it before it’s gone. If it’s there when you go, try the Cascina Zerbetta 2021 Shan Pan from Italy. The wine is made using the “ancestral” method without any interference from the winemaker. The result is an interesting, slightly sparkling wine. Don’t let the beer bottle-style cap put you off, this is a quality wine.
6. The Beeswing
Kampus is an area of central Manchester that’s like its own little village, all about city living, eating, and drinking, while not being “the city.” The Beeswing in Kampus is a brand new wine bar and kitchen that takes the atmosphere of this micro-neighborhood and runs with it. Natural wine is central to what The Beeswing is doing, but they also serve small plates and nibbles to accompany your glass while you relax by the canal. It has a very laid-back feel to it, but the staff here are serious about natural wine and will be happy to guide you through their selection.
What To Order At The Beeswing
I’d recommend Lectores Vini Pomagrana 2020 from Fredi Torres and Marc Lecha who together make up Lectores Vini — a project based in Montsant and Conca de Barberà in Catalonia, Spain. This is a light, low-alcohol wine that’s perfect for drinking at lunchtime or in the early evening. The making of this wine is guided by organic principles without the use of pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides, which results in a memorable wine that tastes of the forest!
Perched up in northeastern England, Kork is a bottle shop, deli, and restaurant that’s a must-visit for anyone in the area. This natural wine shop and restaurant has a lot of character. You can pop in to buy a bottle, browse the deli counter, or book a table to relax with a meal and a glass of wine. The staff here is passionate about natural wine. I love the way the menu is organized into quirky sections like “crisp and clean whites” and “textured and interesting.” It’s a unique approach to helping customers choose which wine to try.
What To Order At Kork
I can highly recommend Gran Cerdo Tinto from Spain. Before you even open the bottle, you know this wine has a character to match Kork. There’s a little story on the back of the label about the winemaker who tried to get investment from the bank, who turned him down believing they wouldn’t make enough money back from his wine. Gonzalo Gonzalo Grijalva, the winemaker, managed to raise the money himself and went on to make this intriguing wine, naming it after those bank managers. Gran Cerdo — in other words, “Big Pig!” This is a low-sulfur wine that has a slight fizz to it. It’s more full-bodied than a lot of natural reds, and it really is an interesting and memorable wine.
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