Looking for the best wine bar in London? Head to Sager + Wilde Hackney Road, a wine bar in East London to find unusual wines and take part in expert wine tastings
In a nutshell: Atmospheric forward-thinking neighbourhood wine bar specialising in unusual and diverse daily-changing wines by the glass and bottle.
Where is it? 193 Hackney Road. Nearest tube: Hoxton Overground Station (4 minute walk)
What’s the vibe?
At this casual but romantic neighbourhood wine bar, huddle up in around candlelit tables, or prop yourself up at the industrial iron grate bar and soak up knowledge from the chatty staff while getting a closer look at rare bottles displayed on the rack along the back wall.
What’s the drinks menu like?
The small but thoughtful wine menu covers lesser-known regions and quirky categories such as crisp and refreshing whites from Austria and bold reds from Hungary, with a dedicated section to ‘skins’ wines (orange wines from Sicily, Alicante and beyond, find out more here). Other than wine, they offer on-trend white port and tonic or punchy, refreshing bergamot negronis, as well as a selection of craft beers (Beavertown Neck Oil, Signature Brew studio pilsner, Five Points pale ale).
Which wines to order?
Sager + Wilde specialises in the lesser known, so chat to the guys behind the bar about preferences and they will recommend something really unique. We tried a liquid-gold nectar of a wine from Ximenez-Spinola (the sherry region of Jerez in Andalucia, read more about sherry here). Although this was made from Pedro Ximenez grapes it was dry and savoury with a hint of raisin.
Try one of the orange wines for something a bit different. We loved the La Stoppa Ageno 2010, made from Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes. This full-bodied wine had a nice spice, nuttiness and crunchy red fruit aromas.
Is there any food?
Sager + Wilde Hackney Road has just upped its food game. As well as continuing the unctuous cheese toasties (with Neil’s Yard Dairy cheese and Bread Station sourdough), a selection of seasonal small plates has been added to the menu.
We tried wafer-thin slices of cured black Angus beef perfectly seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice, topped with plenty of rocket and parmesan shavings. Burrata came with an intensely green basil sauce that had been blitzed with an ice cube to make extra smooth, and toasty pine nuts. Finally, Bread Station sourdough was brushed with garlic and then piled high with chopped vine tomatoes and pulled pieces of buffalo mozzarella from Andre, a chirpy cheesemonger who trades at nearby Spitalfields.
For pud or simply a little afternoon pick-me-up, tuck into a ceramic espresso cup filled with freshly whipped chocolate mousse and a shot of espresso from the coffee shop next door. The mousse melts in to the coffee to create an affogato-like dessert.
Sager + Wilde has cultivated relationships with growers, known for their revolutionary wine making techniques and new flavours. Thus, the bar often hosts wine tasting evenings, from indigenous Cretan wines (lyraraki wines), Oregon chardonnays and pinot noirs, to biodynamic Swiss wines paired with Swiss cheeses. Sign up to Sager + Wilde’s newsletter to get involved in the next one.
Insider tip: Every day there’s a bottle on offer and if you guess the price right you get it at buyer’s price.
Where to go nearby for dinner: Hop across to Kingsland Road and its hub of casual Vietnamese restaurants for super-fresh flavours, no frills interiors and brisk service. Our favourites are Mien Tay (the best frilly crisp spring rolls) and Tay Do Cafe (for a large group, as it’s BYOB). (Try our vibrant Vietnamese recipes here.)