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Waitrose opens first supermarket wine bar

Fancy a glass of fine Champagne when you pick up your ready meal at the supermarket after work? If you're shopping in Canary Wharf, there's a wine bar right next door to the takeaway chicken tikka massala.

Waitrose has opened the first in-store wine bar in its massive new Canary Wharf site – and the public seem to be enjoying the experience.

The wine department in the UK supermarket’s flagship store, covering an entire end of the Canary Wharf complex in London’s Docklands, is unusual not only for its wine bar and tasting section, but for its chill room and its extraordinary range.

The chill room – the first one in the UK is in Waitrose’s branch in Kingston, London – carries a wealth of fine wines. From the New World there is Penfolds Grange 1997 at £110 (€175) a bottle, Henschke Hill of Grace, Viader Cabernet Sauvignon and Stags’ Leap Wine Cellars among others.

In the Old World corner discerning shoppers can find all the first growths of Bordeaux – the Latour 1982 weighs in at £575 (€914) – a clutch of Domaine de la Romanee Conti and other top Burgundies, the finest Rhones and German wines. There’s also a nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles) of Veuve Clicquot for £900 (€1,430).

And in the wine bar (pictured) – the first of its kind in the UK – you can either choose your wine by the glass, or select any bottle from the shelves and open it for £5 (€7.95) corkage.

The store has only been open two weeks and there will be changes, but at the moment the combination of tasting table, wine bar and chill room seems to be hitting the right spot with the legions of bankers and financial analysts that populate the vast development at Canary Wharf.

‘People are coming in waves,’ a spokesperson said. ‘On Monday morning there were tables full of people eating antipasti and drinking red wine. Then on Monday evening customers had champagne in ice buckets.’

And the most popular purchase so far from the chill room isn’t the Pétrus 1996 (£550, €875) or the Cheval Blanc 1982 (£700, €1,114) but Muga Seleccion Especial from Rioja, at £15.99 (€24.40) a bottle.

Written by Adam Lechmere2 October 2002

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