Social distancing may have put an end to nights out with family and friends, but that doesn’t mean socialising need stop completely. With many of us catching up via virtual hangouts and rediscovering that most precious of commodities – time – we’re finding a new appreciation for the simple pleasures in life: like unwinding at the end of a long day with an indulgent glass of red. Happily, with the capital’s best wine merchants and watering holes pivoting to drinks delivery services, your favourite Bordeaux or Beaujolais is but a click away. Here’s our pick of the names you need to know.
There’s a reason London’s top restaurateurs head to this osteria in Hackney. Championing wines from small artisan producers, owner Luca Dusi famously showcases each maker via hand-drawn portraits hung on the wall of the tasting room – a demonstration of the ‘passione’ that goes into creating the exclusively Italian liquid gold. Determined to bring a touch of la dolce vita into people’s homes in these challenging times, Passione Vino has launched a Wine on Wheels drinks delivery service, dropping off its expertly curated selection anywhere in the capital via a stylish red Vespa. Prego!
Having wines arrive in a vehicle synonymous with London is one way to delight and surprise, which is entirely the aim of wine merchant The Sampler. It has partnered with a local black cab driver to carry out its same-day deliveries in a community-spirited initiative that is a stroke of genius. There are few who know the geography of the city’s streets as well as a cabbie, so who better to ensure your magnum of Château Valandraud makes it in one piece? Champagnes, sparkling wines and spirits are also available to purchase.
Delivery: central London; Islington; Hackney; Hampstead; south-west and south-east London. Free delivery on orders of more than £50
Berry Bros. & Rudd
Famed as Britain’s oldest wine merchant, having set up shop on St James’s Street in 1689, Berry Bros. & Rudd is the place for oenophiles to come and test their palates. But, with its doors closed for the foreseeable future, wine lovers must satisfy their thirst with a deep dive online. This one-stop shop offers a comprehensive selection taking in some 4,000 wines from the old world and new, and also includes Berry Bros. & Rudd’s own-label selections. The hidden gems section, where single bottles and overlooked cases command a 40% discount, is particularly worthy of note.
Delivery: free standard UK delivery available on orders of more than £200. ‘Contact-free’ deliveries are currently being offered
Renegade Urban Winery & Bar
With a name like Renegade you can expect this outfit to push the envelope when it comes to drinks production. Indeed, with a motto that reads ‘Breaking the rules, one bottle at a time’, this maverick London bar does things differently by combining grapes from British and European vineyards and adopting a low-intervention approach. It’s a philosophy that extends to the company’s labels, too, which use the eyes of different members of the public, many of whom are Londoners, to create an extraordinary image. Anyone can apply to be featured, and with free delivery on all its wine, it’s the perfect time to see how you might fit.
Delivery: free next-day delivery throughout London. No minimum order
Ladies & Gentlemen
If you’d like to inject some fun into your virtual drinks soirée, Ladies & Gentlemen is guaranteed to supply it. It has taken a light-hearted approach to the lockdown by delivering zinging cold-pressed juices and quirkily-named cocktails via the power of pedal and electric car. Enjoy such intoxicating libations as the ‘Quarantini’, a combination of either Vestal Vodka or Marylebone Gin with vermouth and water, or a rum-fuelled ‘Zombie’. Classic cocktails are also available to purchase.
Delivery: within a five-mile radius of Kentish Town. Minimum order of three juices at £10 each, or a minimum order of five cocktails at £6.50 each. Wider delivery available via Deliveroo shortly
This urban winery is the very definition of home grown. It uses fruit supplied by English growers located within a few hours of its Battersea site in a bid to showcase the potential for world-leading wine production right here in London. And, having recently secured a bronze award for its 2018 ‘Tamesis’ Bacchus vintage at the WineGB Awards last year, it’s clearly doing something right. Sadly, this award-winning vin is sold out, but there are plenty of other boutique options worthy of consideration via their drinks delivery service, particularly as founders Sergio and Lynsey Verrillo are now offering free local drop-offs.
Delivery: free delivery on orders of three bottles or more for those in Battersea, Clapham and Vauxhall, and a no-contact ‘door drop’ service for anyone self-isolating. London-wide delivery available and free delivery on orders of 12 bottles or more
Natural Born Wine
What makes this Camberwell-based natural and biodynamic wine importer stand out from the crowd is the ability of founders Oli Hudson and Sam Rogg to cut through the noise of the deafening biodynamic wine bandwagon. In a bid to educate both the natural wine novice and aficionado alike, the duo tell the stories of the wines they carefully select through evocative prose that leaves the reader desperate to sample a drop. So, it’s just as well that a next-day drinks delivery service is offered Monday to Saturday as standard throughout the capital.
Delivery: London-wide (free delivery on orders of more than £150)
This nifty app is the equivalent of having a top sommelier on speed dial. Devised by the founders of 10 Cases, the stellar bistrot in Covent Garden, Drop makes buying wines devilishly straightforward. Simply set the parameters of your search by choosing the style, colour and price of the wines you’d like to purchase, add in the expected mood and food, and the app will generate your very own list of recommendations. Plus, with each wine having been vetted and tested ahead of its inclusion, you can rest assured that whatever you plump for will tantalise your tastebuds.
Delivery: London-wide (£3 for delivery ASAP; £1.50 if choosing a one-hour time slot. Minimum order of £20)
Having decided that the wine world was one full of clichés and confusing terminology, wine-loving friends Nuno Brito e Cunha and Angus Fordyce set about creating Vinterest. An antidote to sites where fussy tasting notes reign supreme, artisanal wines from small producers take centre stage; a sparkler – Chilcomb Valley – has been lovingly developed by the Fordyce family, for example. The boon here, however, is the fact that wines are delivered within the hour.
Delivery: to Zones 1, and Fulham and Chiswick in Zone 2, within the hour. Next-day drinks delivery is available to other areas of London on orders of cases of six or more
The Finest Bubble
‘Come quickly, I am tasting the stars,’ Dom Pérignon allegedly quipped as he sipped those first delicious bubbles. And with that, Champagne’s status was elevated forevermore, destined to always be a signifier of wealth, prestige and extremely good taste. But Champagne needn’t always be put away for a special occasion, as The Finest Bubble attests; it has been delivering sparkling joy throughout London since 2014 and it does so within an impressive two-hour timeframe. And while all the major brands can be found on its site, with elegant gift sets available for that special someone, we’d urge you to give the sparkling wines by Wiston Estate a try – they’re produced down the road in the South Downs.
Delivery: same day, two-hour delivery is available Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm