Niche places to buy wine in the UK

Of all the liquids in all the world, from the beginning of recorded history, the two most common yet most revered are water and wine. Wine has been around almost as long as human civilization, and is considered by many to be a necessary ingredient in ‘the good life’.

Britain is home to a vast number of good wine merchants who know their wines and can provide that extra-special vintage for a once-in-a-lifetime connoisseur experience, or simply an excellent selection of good wines at affordable prices. You can, of course, find them online, but if you want to get up close and personal, here are a few suggestions from the experts about where to go.

If you’re in London, stop into Berry Bros. & Rudd on St. James Street.  They have a very traditional shop that’s almost wine museum-quality, with a great selection including their own special labels, and they are happy to share their vast knowledge of fine wines and offer assistance in choosing the ideal wine for each customer.

Also in London, Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly may be the place to browse if you have something special in mind that can’t be found elsewhere.  Prices are relatively steep but worth it for the delightful atmosphere, helpful staff and rare vintages.

For a unique and extremely satisfying experience, you should visit The Sampler in Islington.  You can walk there from the tube station, and The Sampler has an innovative wine tasting system that allows you to sample 80 different wines.  It’s a great way to expand your knowledge of fine wines, not to mention getting a first-taste introduction before you buy, so you won’t risk disappointment after bringing it home.

Noel Young Wines in Cambridge is one of the best independent wine merchants in the U.K., with a large and interestingly diverse selection of fine wines.  They have won numerous awards, and their specialties are Austrian and Australian vintages.

Moving on to Suffolk, check out Seckford Wines on Dock Lane. They offer a huge selection of mostly high-end wines from the classic wine regions of the world.  If you don’t need a whole case, chances are there will an ‘oddment’ in their inventory that will suit your needs perfectly, so look around and ask questions.

Most of us have not made a business of learning about wine and all its variations, flavours, strengths and weaknesses, but that’s what wine merchants do for a living, mostly because they love wine.  It is in their best interests to encourage customers to get acquainted with wines they have discovered or re-discovered, so it is certainly in our best interest to take advantage of their specialized knowledge.

If you already have a favourite, even if it’s only as generalized as red or white, your options are endless.  Whether you are a novice in the world of wine or an aspiring connoisseur of the grape, you are sure to be enlightened and rewarded by a visit to some of the really good wine merchants that abound in the UK.