Our Top Picks for Wine
5 November 2018
The popularity of the pub as a place to eat has not only seen a transformation in the quality of food being served but the wine too – walk into any of our foodie inns and you are likely to find wine lists with detailed tasting notes reflecting the landlord’s personal tastes, unusual wines often sourced from a range of small merchants, even individual vineyards, with numerous available by the glass, and all chosen to match the style of food served.
So, if you consider yourself a bit of an oenophile, don’t just think of the pub as a place to eat but stay the night so you can linger over dinner and delve into the fantastic wine lists… and perhaps take home a bottle or two as some of our wine-loving owners have even found room for a wine shop at or near the pub. Here are some of our top choices….
You can’t miss the glass-fronted wine shop inside this 16th-century gem in Constable country, owned by a former director of Lay & Wheeler. It’s an oenophile’s haven stacked with terrific bottles from across the globe and the mighty 300 bin wine list is a joy, properly thought out and well presented; 35 by the glass.
The Olive Branch is renowned for its food but the pub’s commitment to quality imbibing is every bit as powerful as its love of great food. The wine list is full of surprises, with wines of the month, a dozen offered in handy half-litres, and there’s no fewer than seven champagnes. Attend one of the regular wine masterclasses or wine and food matching dinners and buy your favourite tipple from the shop.
Expect a superlative list of 200 wines (16 by the glass) at this grand inn lost in the Trough of Bowland. There’s a bias towards smaller producers and ‘natural’ winemakers and the list, arranged by style rather than region, is a delight to explore and every bottle can be bought from the shop at reception. Private wine tastings for groups of 6 – 20 are popular too.
A favourite Sussex hideaway, noted for its food and its dedication to the grape, with its own ‘wine club’ offering tastings and wine dinners. The global wine list champions old and new, offering a good range by the glass and wines of the month, with Italy being a favourite – check out the Connoisseur’s list for something extra special.
Tucked away in a picture-book village this historic inn offers delicious Italian-inspired food and a cracking wine list that has been shaped after much tasting and serious consideration. It majors in natural wines from small producers in Southwest France and Italy with 20 by the glass and carafe and all available to buy to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Excellent themed wine and food tasting dinners are hosted by Tate Galleries wine buyer and guru, Hamish Anderson.
If you love wine, then you’re in for a treat at this old coaching inn. Owner Victor has carefully chosen a collection of wines of character and individuality rather than a list of well-known names, with many served by the glass. Push the boat out and delve into Victor’s 24 amazing Bordeaux St Emilion wines from great vintages.
Everyone’s perfect country inn, the Beckford Arms caters equally well for wine drinkers as for foodies. Cannily chosen, covering all the main bases briskly and efficiently – and affordably. Furthermore, with their own Beckford Bottle Shop in nearby Tisbury, offering a fantastic selection of over 300 wines from around the world (as well as craft beers, ciders and boutique spirits), you’ll be able to take that favourite tipple found at the inn, back home.
Hidden away in the Windrush Valley this spruced up inn offers seasonal modern pub food and a brilliant drinks list. Owner, Dominic, spends time visiting vineyards in South Africa and sourcing wines from small producers for his excellent wine list, and thanks to the Coravin System he offers fine wines by the glass with interesting tasting notes that make a great read before dinner.
At this Suffolk coastal gem and foodie haven you’ll find 100 drop-dead delicious wines from some of the earth’s most inspired winemakers. Mark’s list is devoted to the great, the good and the flavoursome. The list kicks off with some 15 wines by the glass – kept in fine fettle by the Verre de Vin system – and there’s evident passion for France. There’s some good drinking to be had at the top end but there is distinct quality and imagination at the everyday drinking level too, and when it comes to matching wine (and beer) to food, there’s genuine expertise in the house.
Whilst the Wellington Arms is renowned for chef Jason’s delicious modern British food prepared from local and homegrown ingredients, oenophiles will not be disappointed. The excellent wine list (with very decent tasting notes) favours organic and small producers, notably France, and includes 8 wines by the glass, some excellent sherries, port and pudding wines, an impressive choice of Hampshire sparkling wines, and a selection of fascinating rare French vintages.
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