Oh la la: Welcome back to the wine bar!
On your way home, out with the girls, mid-week quickie? The wine bar it is. Put the world to rights over a sharing board and a bottle of some fabulous vintage.
Dukes, Princes Risborough
Dukes is the neighbourhood wine bar and wine merchants that every town needs – friendly, with clientele of all ages and good quality but reasonably priced food and drink. And with at least 20 wines by the glass and an extensive list by the bottle, everyone should be happy, from your pinot noir disciples to your chardonnay devotees. Accompanying the booze, there’s sharing platters, tapas, pizzas and piadinas. On Wednesdays, you can pick a wine off the shelf to have with your meal for the retail price plus corkage. Currently open Tues-Sat, 12pm-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm.
The name of this wine bar, which is the French word for tipsy, tells you everything you need to know about this place – it’s unpretentious and a bit fabulous. The credentials of husband and wife team, Pascal and Laura Wiedemann, are pretty stellar – Pascal was one of the team behind the opening of London wine bar Terroirs while Laura has worked in fashion for years and has a flair for interior design. The wine list features 26 wines by the glass including a section of ‘orange wines’, a skin-fermented white wine that’s having a bit of a moment right now. Food is très français with a prix fixe and a la carte menu that currently includes dishes like pig’s head and trotters on toast. For the summer, seasonal dishes include asparagus with a warm duck egg in parmesan sauce, and half a grilled lobster served with watercress mayo and Jersey Royals. Reopening on Tues 18 May: Tues-Sat, 12-3pm, 6-9.30pm, Sun, 12-3pm.
Le Clos, Wallingford
It feels positively Parisian to sit in the pedestrianised street outside Le Clos on one of its wooden chairs sipping a burgundy and watching the world go by… Who needs Eurostar?! The bar is owned by Stephane Brun and managed by oenophile Samantha Barker. Between them, they have built up a wine list of 200 fine wines, with 40 by the glass. Accompanying the wines are classic sharing plates including Parma and Iberico hams, cheese galore, tarte flambée (almost like a fine pizza/flatbread) with fish, meat or veggie toppings and various deli boards. Reopening on Mon 17 May. Open Mon-Thurs, 6pm-midnight, Fri & Sat, midday-1am, Sun, midday-11pm.
Temple Street Wine Bar, Aylesbury
There’s a loyal following for this cosy and unpretentious wine bar thanks to its versatile menu and fab wine list (purists be warned: cocktails are a bit of a thing here too). Dishes include light bites like salads and fries, and larger more formal plates such as prawn and chorizo risotto, lime & coriander dressing, and that perfect chardonnay accompaniment, baked camembert with toast and chutney. Reopening 17 May. Open Mon-Fri, 5pm-11pm and Fri, 12-2.30pm, Sat, midday-11pm, Sun, 1pm-5pm.
Opening on 21 May, Wilding is set to join Oxford’s buzzing wine scene among the interior shops and eateries of the somewhat gorgeous Little Clarendon Street, where Cafe Rouge used to be. The bar/restaurant is being opened by Kent Barker who owns Frome’s Eight Stony Street and has a wine CV to die for – Bibendum, Enotria and Oddbins… The focus is on sustainability and seasonality with the chance to dine, taste and buy wines. Expect 50 wines by the glass and 400 available to buy (that’s not a challenge, ladies…). Stomach liners will include sharing plates with game, shellfish and seasonal local veg featuring prominently as well as pizza.
The Oxford Wine Cafe, Oxford
The Oxford Wine Society is all about small, boutique producers that you won’t find in the supermarket, but a wine degree isn’t required to walk through the door – it’s all about fun, and affordable drinking. There’s a changing selection by the glass and there’s always a four-glass wine flight on the specials. Expect at least 30 wines by the glass, tons by the bottle and a list labelled ‘curiosities’, which will intrigue the wine buffs among you. Food includes tapas, sharing boards and pizzas as well as bar snacks like smoked almonds and crisps. Reopening Mon 17 May. Open Mon-Thurs, 8.30-11pm, Fri, 8.30am-midnight, Sat, 10am-midnight, Sun, 10am-10pm.
Satollo Cafe and Wine Bar, Marlow
This Marlow fave has a loyal following for coffee, brunch and lunch as well as its wine bar vibe in the evenings. There’s over 100 types of Italian wine on offer served alongside regional cheese, charcuterie, salads and sharing boards. Open: Mon-Sat, 8am-11pm, Sun, 9am-6pm.
Efes Wine and Tapas Bar, Little Chalfont
If you need your Med fix, this is the spot – Efes Wine and Tapas Bar serves Spanish tapas and Turkish meze – think nibbles, charcuterie, meze and cheese boards – alongside a compact but quaffable wine list. The independent, family-owned restaurant is big on its friendly welcome and there’s also beers, ciders, cocktails and champagne, so it’s not one for the out-and-out wine bar purist. Reopening 17 May after a facelift. Open: Mon – Thurs, 11am-11pm, Fri & Sat, 11am-midnight, Sun, midday-10pm.
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