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Vinopolis is One of The Best Wine Bars in London

Updated on December 14, 2012

Vinopolis Cantina Tapas Lunch

Vinopolis tapas lunch is generous and high quality.
Vinopolis tapas lunch is generous and high quality. | Source

Vinopolis Wine Tour

If you are looking for tourist attractions in London, I can highly recommend Vinopolis. Situated next to Borough Markets, you take the tube to London Bridge Station, head to Borough Markets west and walk through the delightful food stalls towards the entrance.

We went for Friday lunchtime. This was an excellent time to go as it was less busy, and the staff were more available. We had a Vinopolis voucher for the Grapevine wine tour, which involves learning how to taste wine and then sampling six wines from around the world of your choice finishing with a Bombay Sapphire cocktail.

Vinopolis Cantina Lunch

For approximately £20 per head you also receive a tapas lunch. This was an incredible mix of smoked salmon, quality salami meats, artichoke hearts, jalapenos and peppers stuffed with cheese, dolmades, sun blush tomatoes, home baked bread and rocket salad. All this with a complementary glass of quality wine.

How to find Vinopolis

Vinopolis London:
Gastronomy Tasting Package @ Vinopolis, Stoney St, Southwark, SE1 9, UK

get directions

Vinopolis wine tours and tasting packages are a delightful way to spend a Friday afternoon when visiting London.

London Wine Bars

Vinopolis caters for wine afficionados, with wine outlet "Lathwaites Wine" within the complex and open to the public. Beautifully laid out and spacious, the staff are not pushy. There is plenty of signage for you to read about wine, and a tasting area where, if you like, you can try before you buy.

It is worth doing the wine tour to learn how to taste wine and assess what you like and why you like it. Next time you visit the supermarket wall of wine and can't decide, you will now know how to pay attention to factors such as alcohol content, tasting notes, wine region and type of wine.

You start off in a group and your guide; ours was Alison; takes you through the basics of wine tasting. With your book on wine tasting and your first glass in tow, you go through to several tables of wines from Europe, Australiasia, and the Americas. You can add a champagne tasting, whiskey tastings of Chivas Regal, or extra wine tastings to your package if you feel able for approximately £1 per taste which is fantastic value.

Vinopolis London Visitor Attractions

Laithwaites Wine Diamond Jubilee display window.
Laithwaites Wine Diamond Jubilee display window. | Source
Vinopolis Cantina decorated in urban edge.
Vinopolis Cantina decorated in urban edge. | Source
Wait for the wine tour on a chaise lounge.
Wait for the wine tour on a chaise lounge. | Source
Patrons inside the tour at the Europe tasting lounge.
Patrons inside the tour at the Europe tasting lounge. | Source
Bombay Sapphire cocktail bar.
Bombay Sapphire cocktail bar. | Source

What To Order in London Wine Bars

The next challenge that faces you once the tour gets going is what to choose to sample. There are hundreds of wines, that range from £80 per bottle to about £10 per bottle to try. We are red wine fans so we concentrated on trying those. We learned that there is a real difference in flavour and bouquet (smell) between wines from Europe and wines from warmer climates, with the Australian and New Zealand wines much stronger in both. Perhaps that is why so many people like these wines.

Some standout wines:

Grant Burge 56 Shiraz 2010 from South Australia: this wine tastes and smells like chocolate. It is really divine.

Waipara West Ram Paddock Red 2004: a blend of red wine which tastes and smells like olives. If you like pizza and those kinds of foods, this New Zealand wine pulls a real wow factor.

Guesta Dao DOC 2009: This red blend from Portugal is a tasty alternative to Cotes Du Rhone, and has a similar flavour with a heavier body. Delicious.

We also tried Pillastro 2010 from Puglia Italy; Willy Willy Shiraz 2012 from South Australia; Bonterra Merlot Organic 2008 from the USA the last of which was an oakey, smokey wine.

The difference between oaked and unoaked wine is noticeable once you know what you are tasting. When I was younger I found oaked wine a bit tricky to like, as it tasted a bit like squashed ants to me. Curiously, now that I am in my 40s, oaked red wine is more palatable.

Bombay Sapphire Cocktails

My photography skills just holding, we ended the tour with a complementary cocktail at the Bombay Sapphire Cocktail Bar. If you come to Vinopolis you don't have to stop at one drink. At any stage you can stop and have more wine, beer, champagne, whisky or cocktails. In the Bombay Sapphire bar we had a "Perfect Lady" and a "Gin Juice". The bartender gave us an extra cocktail too which was like a pina colada but with Gin.

Overall we found the place delightful, the service friendly and for the money, tremendous value. I wanted to recommend it (and not in a salesy way!) because I think touring London attractions is often really expensive for people. It is nice to have a place like Vinopolis which offers great value and caters for an older crowd. Most of the patrons were in their 40s to 60s and there was a friendly atmosphere with everyone dressed smart casual.

After Vinopolis

As you leave Vinopolis, you are on the Embankment riverside walk, and if you head due west, you can walk all the way to the Millenium Bridge, past the Tate Modern Gallery, National Theatre and a series of riverbank restaurants which have sprung up since 2011. If you have not been to London for a while, the Southbank riverwalk, officially known as The Queen's Walk, is a delightful stroll.

The walk over the Millenium or "Wobbly Bridge" is fun too and will take you into Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery area. It is all much closer than you think and the walks are by far more delightful than sticking to the tube underground to get around.

Cute Couple at Late Stage of Wine Tour at Vinopolis


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