Placing enormous online wine orders — orders that would've seemed lazily excessive in 2019 — is our new normal now. Enjoy the one-two punch of gratification: first the ray of hope that your favourite bar/restaurant/bottle shop will survive this weird time, thanks to you, a hero of the pandemic, valiantly supporting the city's hospitality sector by drenching yourself in Pet Nat; and second, the more concrete reward of A Lot Of Wine, Immediately.
We've asterisked the ones offering contactless delivery across London (and sometimes nationwide). Drink in moderation, but order exuberantly.
Passione Vino, Shoreditch
In better times we're regulars at this Shoreditch bar-shop; Londonist HQ's just round the corner. Beware spending more on their wine list than you meant to; the passione is catching. The focus is low-intervention wine from all corners of Italy, and the emphasis on small, artisan production methods means 95% of the stock is de facto vegan. Something nearer ambassadors than wine-merchants, the Passione team have close ties to their suppliers, and an in-depth knowledge of their methods, varietals, ethical practices — ideal for when you want minute detail about anything from filtering practices to food-matching.
Highlights of their online shop: one of the best collections of Lambrusco we've found in London (though also worth checking out Bon Vino in Bermondsey), and the makings of an aperitivo hour (cheese, cured meats, taralli) to help recreate that early-evening-drink-by-the-Naviglio feel.
Delivery: same day delivery within a six-mile radius of their Shoreditch shop, open on weekdays only.
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These guys are natural wine specialists, with a few paths through their offering: a subscription service, curated cases, occasional IRL events and collabs. But if you're in a choose-your-own-adventure mood you can just freestyle through their fairly extensive selection of small-batch bottles from independent wineries, with a good set of options for £20 or less a bottle (though you can also choose from a few triple figure bottles if you're feeling ornate).
Delivery: order by 3 pm for free next day delivery.
Once upon a previous flatshare, Pamela was our local. Thanks to their shift online for lockdown, and a generous delivery radius (zones 1, 2 and 3), we can pretend it is again now.
Favourite buys: the Free Run Juice Samurai Chardonnay, a low-intervention Australian job (one that somehow works on Chardonnay-deniers like us), that turns up all too rarely on London wine lists and therefore is, we would say, fair game for stockpiling. And also their oat milk White Russian starter pack: man/woman cannot live by wine alone.
Delivery: Wednesday to Saturday — covering zones 1, 2 and 3. Same day delivery for orders placed till 2pm.
Renegade Urban Winery*, Bethnal Green
Squeeze past a towering display of secondhand furniture in a narrow alley under Bethnal Green’s old railway arches, and you’ll find this independent urban winery. Renegade makes unusual, minimally-manipulated wines. Some sinister bottle designs across their main range (see above) add a frisson of aggression to your rosé that we're... sort of into? And for the DIYers, you can try your hand at the riddling and disgorging side of things with their sparkling grenache.
Delivery: Free nationwide 'next day-ish' delivery, with no minimum order.
Cellar. sw4, Clapham
Just a straightforwardly nice wine bar/shop with an unsnobby desire to get you the right wine for your wallet. We've hit them up often with some chaotic questioning and a strong 'this wine will end up being paired with a Chicagotown Cheese Feast' energy, and they've never betrayed the slightest horror. No attempts to upsell, no assuming you know the industry jargon, and a food menu (also available for delivery) that leans towards the hearty — think sausage rolls, boar pate with sourdough, and 'nduja and butter pasta. Good for a layperson, basically, though with all the interesting, biodynamic options to dazzle a connoisseur. They've got a regularly-changing but always good range of skin contact wines, and were Testalonga early adopters: check out the Baby Bandito Stay Brave orange — beloved of Instagram, but more than just a pretty label.
Delivery: Free within a two-mile radius of their Clapham shop for orders above £40, order by 1pm for same day delivery. Closed on Sundays and bank holidays.
Shop Cuvée, Finsbury Park and Bethnal Green
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One of the many good things about this bar-restaurant's wine delivery service is the chance to throw things from their great beer list, pre-bottled cocktails and deli food into the mix. Our last Shop Cuvée order was a chaotic but excellent pile-in of Spanish red, crémant from the Alsace, a lot of Mikkeller and Villages Brewery beer, Empirical Spirits (the ex-Noma guys) sour cherry pre-mix cocktail cans, and some oat milk. You always need more oat milk.
Their stock changes regularly, with the wine list focused on natural and low-intervention bottles — but at time of writing they were also doing two of our favourite non-alcoholic beers, a brilliant collection of lesser-found IPAs and saisons, including a bunch from London breweries, and a mix of fairly pricey, artisan staples (Tony's Chocolonely counts as a staple) and fairly pricey, artisan luxuries.
Delivery: Free over £60. Same day local delivery by bicycle, and next-day delivery across London.
A small, buzzy unit in Tooting Market — now with a larger Waterloo bar also in the fold — Unwined's always packed a lot of enthusiasm into a miniature footprint. The same level of enthusiasm's gone into their wine delivery service. Offering mainly pre-designed mixed boxes, it's a bit more restrictive than the others on this list — their bars specialise in monthly-changing menus, curating a range of wine to a theme (cold climate wines, extreme weather wines, wines coming back into fashion after a while out favour...). So they're old hands at the wine-mix-tape thing: if you're letting anybody decide the next 12 bottles you're going to sink, it might as well be these guys. They also do experience kits — wine, cheese, aperitivi, for £65, with a selection that changes every two months, and tasting notes.
Delivery: next working day delivery, £5 a case.
Ourglass is a Finsbury Park-based wine subscription service, aimed at helping you find new favourites from their 1500-bottle selection of small producers and lesser-known wines — including plenty of London-based and local producers. Deliveries come with an email consultation, a bespoked box of three or more wines, and detailed tasting notes; ideal for when you want to take your park picnic, garden BBQ or rainy-day Netflix session to the next level.
Delivery: free for orders of six bottles or more.
St. JOHN*, Smithfield
St. JOHN's casually, unpretentiously brilliant at everything they do, and their wine sticks true to form. Their 'doorstep deliveries to see you through the oscillations of lockdown' could cover any of their bottles or mixed cases, but our pick would be one of their £38 box wines in each shade: we're completist.
Delivery: free nationwide delivery for large orders (£150 or more) or for three or more bag in a box wines.
Jascots*, online only
Wine merchant Jascots used to be hospitality trade only, their standard client list a who's who of Places We'd Like to Be Eating Right Now — among them Lupins, Kricket, and Coal Rooms. Now they're selling to private customers via their online shop at trade cost — we've only paddled around the shallows of their price list, but our more committed friends swear to us if you want to drop £20 a bottle in 12-bottle-sized splurges, you can do it here for big value.
Delivery: free next day delivery within the M25, minimum order of 12 bottles (and unless you're ordering one of their pre-selected mixed case options, that has to be minimum of six bottles of each wine).