Welcome to our ongoing exploration of everything wine related in London. From wine bars to local vineyards we’re uncorking the capital: just don’t ask whether we spit or swallow. This month we look at one of the new breed of wine shops that have taken to heart the notion of ‘try before you buy’.Shopping for wine can be a bit like being drunk: you become confused, easily distracted and end up staggering around the place with absolutely no idea what you’re doing. Not in Vagabond, however, a shop whose enomatic machines ensure that you know exactly what a wine tastes like before you buy it. Furthermore, unlike some wine bars with a similar concept, Vagabond only charges a minimal amount (50p on our visit) per sample, meaning that you can examine wines by taste rather than price.Wines are ordered in sections (e.g. ‘spicy’) and come with a handy card detailing the grape, provenance, tasting notes and pairing ideas. This might sound slightly patronising, but they are a fantastic aid to the shopper and allow you to browse at your own pace. Given the size of the machines there is only space for around 100 bottles, and the wine enthusiasts behind Vagabond have certainly selected with care. The current range features everything from well-known classics to unusual wines made from grapes such as Bobal, and prices start from £5.Not only will the wines be changing periodically but the spacious and inviting shop also features a selection of impulse-purchase-worthy spirits and beers. In addition, they stock a selection of champagnes and sweet wines (look out for an intriguing red Recioto della Valpolicella that goes perfectly with chocolate brownies..), which will only be available for sampling at one of their tasting sessions until they figure out how to make them compatible with the machines.Given that they’ll even allow you to bring your own food to eat at the tables inside – check out the great deli across the road for supplies - Vagabond is a far more civilised option for winey Christmas shopping than battling your way down Oxford Street.Vagabond is at 18-22 Vanston Place, SW6 1AX, click here for opening hours.
London Uncorked: Vagabond
Last Updated 06 December 2010