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Manchester – a wine lover’s guide

Gone are the days when wine lovers would struggle to find a place in Manchester to quench their thirst. Here is your guide to the city's vibrant wine bar scene, with plenty of addresses where you can enjoy a proper glass paired with delicious nibbles.

Manchester is famous for its music and sport, but for a long time it was not the best city for a wine lover to have a proper night out. However, the past few years have seen a burgeoning movement of small, independent wine bars and restaurants that have transformed the city’s oenophile offering.


20 Stories

What we like about it

Part of London’s D&D group, 20 Stories is located on the 19th floor of Manchester’s tallest building – No1 Spinningfields. The venue offers visitors a restaurant, cocktail bar, and a beautiful outdoor terrace with stunning panoramic views of the Manchester skyline. More importantly for us, it also has one of the best wine lists in the city.

Wine list

While the bottle list focuses quite heavily, and understandably, on France, there is a substantial American selection and a diverse range that includes eclectic offerings from Armenia, Israel, and Japan. By-the-glass offerings are selected to ensure a variety of countries and styles are available and there is a rotating shortlist of heavily discounted bottles on their ‘Love Wine’ list.  Burgundy is probably 20 Stories’ strongest suit, and the list manages to include both iconic producers and up and comers.

What to order

Try a bottle of the fantastic Bourgogne Blanc ‘Les Femelottes’ from rising star Chavy Chouet. Or you could throw caution to the wind and grab yourself a 1998 Richebourg from DRC – if being on the 19th floor hasn’t already given you a nosebleed. Alternatively, ask the sommelier for a recommendation as, with glasses starting at £6.50 and bottles at £23, the list is highly accessible.

  • Address: No 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, M3 3EB
  • Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 12pm-12am; Friday & Saturday 12pm- 2am
  • 20stories.co.uk


Sip Wine Bar

What we like about it

Situated in the leafy South Manchester suburb of Didsbury, Sip is a wine shop and bar offering a short selection of small plates for those drinking in.  With an enoteca offering numerous wines to sample, and a changing range of British cheese & charcuterie, Sip is a great spot for anyone looking to try a variety of styles.

Wine list

Sip tries to ensure that both its by-the-glass options and bottle menu cover a wide range of countries, although the focus is firmly on well-established old and new world regions. For those not sitting down, the shop offers a broader selection, but the bar list always leans towards accessible and affordable options – you won’t find a menu full of classed growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy.

What to order

There are over 30 wines offered by the glass (including sherry, port, and vermouth) all of which are also available in a 50ml sample size. With these dainty tasting sizes offering a wide choice, why not try a variety of styles to pair with a charcuterie board or a few small plates from the kitchen?

If you’re looking for something a little different, then try Domaine Gaunoux’s Meursault. Winemaker Claudine Gaunoux eschews the use of barrels and, unusually for the region, produces all her wines solely in stainless steel to showcase a pure expression of her terroir.

  • Address: 156 Burton Road, West Didsbury, M20 1LH
  • Opening hours: Wednesday & Thursday 4pm – 11pm; Friday 4pm-12am; Saturday 2pm-12am; Sunday 2pm-11pm
  • sipwine.co.uk

Blossom Street Social

What we like about it

Blossom Street Social opened in 2019 in Manchester’s achingly cool Ancoats district, rubbing shoulders with the city’s only Michelin-starred restaurant and a host of independent cafes, bars, and bakeries. Another wine-shop-meets-restaurant, Blossom Street Social has hosted a variety of pop-up kitchens and offers a large and eclectic wine choice.

Wine list

There is no fixed list at Blossom Street Social, as the selection rotates and changes regularly . However, whenever you visit you will be guaranteed a diverse selection of wines that includes traditional, classic regions and more obscure and unique bottles too. Whether you want Bordeaux or fancy trying something from Macedonia or India, the range will have you covered.

What to order

You could, of course, go with something classic, but with the variety on offer here it makes sense to sample something a little different.  There is an unfiltered Saperavi from the Teliani Valley winery, in Georgia, and is a wonderful example of the grape; smokey, with dark fruits and enough tannin to make this a great match for meat dishes. A lighter, bright red packed with red fruits comes courtesy of the Tikves Winery in Macedonia and their Crveno, made entirely from the indigenous Kratosija.

  • Address: 51 Blossom Street, Ancoats, M4 6AJ
  • Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 4pm-10pm; Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm; Sunday 11am-9pm
  • blossomstreetsocial.co.uk

Salut Wines

What we like about it

Manchester seems very keen on wine shops that double as dine-in venues, and Salut is another success story in this ever-growing niche. On the outskirts of Chinatown, in Manchester’s centre, you will find a shop offering over 400 bottles and a tapas restaurant with more than 40 wines by the glass and the ever-reliable enomatic machine to ensure freshness.

Wine list

Aside from the shop’s offerings, the in-house menu regularly changes but manages to strike a balance between popular grapes & regions and more unusual bottles for those seeking something new. For every New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc there’s a Slovenian Malvazija, and Salut also offers tasting flights to explore some of their range.

What to order

Salut offers Hambledon’s fantastic English sparkling by the glass, so even if you don’t have anything in particular to celebrate, we’d advise you to make an excuse and order this anyway. There’s a vibrant Uruguayan Albariño from Bodegas Garzón and a fascinating, single-vineyard Xinomavro from Kir-Yianni. The three-wine tasting flights are a fun option; divided into white, orange, red, and “staff selection”, with the latter offering a rosé, a white, and a red.

  • Address: 11 Cooper St, M2 2FW
  • Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm; Sunday 12m-8pm
  • salut.co.uk

Isca

What we like about it

Created by sommelier Caroline Dubois and chef Isobel Jenkins, Isca is a natural wine bar offering small plates of sustainably-sourced, organic food. It will require drinkers to take a 10-minute detour from Manchester city centre, down the A6 to the Levenshulme district, but it’s well worth the trip. Isca’s owners both worked at the much-lauded restaurant Where the Light Gets In and their wine list is fascinating.

Wine list

Isca only sells organic, natural wines and, by virtue of these criteria, it’s safe to say that the selection is also entirely from small producers. Even when you spot a familiar region on the menu, there is likely to be a point of difference; Isca’s Sancerre offering comes from Sebastien Riffault, and his “Auksinis Maceration” is made from Sauvignon grapes with 50% botrytis.

What to order

Embrace the difference and try something unique like the 2019 Aquelarre – a pét-nat Albariño from Constantina Sotelo or the 2018 Fledermaus Rot from Melanie & Michael Volker – a German Pinot Meunier (or Schwarzriesling as it is locally known) produced using carbonic maceration. You won’t find most of the range on many other lists, so it would also be wise to ask the staff for guidance and suggestions, especially if Dubois herself is present.

  • Address: 825 Stockport Road, Levenshulme,, M19 3PN
  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 11am-10pm
  • iscawines.com

Nordie

What we like about it

In the same Levenshulme district as Isca, Nordie is, perhaps unsurprisingly for the Manchester scene,  a wine bar & shop serving a short food menu. In this case, rather than the modern dining scene’s ubiquitous small plates, Nordie focuses on all-day breakfasts and brunches, with Sunday roasts on the weekend. This is a laid-back, self-styled “neighbourhood bar”, that offers cocktails and a broad selection of beers if you absolutely must go out with friends who don’t drink wine.

Wine list

There is a keen focus on natural wines, and yet Nordie’s list doesn’t limit itself to any set rules; you will find several non-natural bottles and a varied varietal selection to keep you interested. Pricing is very reasonable, no doubt aided by an emphasis on small producers. There are only five permanent by-the-glass options, however a daily specials board offers a rotating range of other choices.

What to order

Nordie’s house pour white is the eminently quaffable Chin Chin Vinho Verde, produced by Antonio Monteiro in partnership with the owners of London’s cult Noble Rot restaurants. Monteiro produces his wines with minimal intervention, and this is an excellent (and very reasonably priced) example of how enjoyable Vinho Verde can be. There is a pét-nat Chenin Blanc from Cedric Garreau, who produces tiny amounts of wines in the Loire, and Tillingham’s ‘R’ is a bright, crunchy red made from the Regent variety in Sussex.

  • Address: 1044 Stockport Rd, Levenshulme, Manchester M19 3WX
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday 4pm-11pm; Friday & Saturday 1oam-late; Sunday 10m-8pm
  • nordie.co.uk

Evuna

What we like about it

This popular mini-chain of Spanish tapas bar/restaurants has two locations in Manchester (of a total of four) and both regularly host tutored wine tastings. They also allow customers to buy bottles to take away, offering a transparent insight into the markup you pay for drinking over a meal. While Evuna might not be as unique as some of the city’s independent, natural wine purveyors, you know what they say about variety, right? Moreover, not every list needs to be a learning experience and sometimes you might simply want a nice Rioja with some tapas to nibble on.

Wine list

The list is entirely Spanish and leans towards traditional styles, as opposed to listing many of the new wave estates. The list is heavier on reds than white or rosé, with the usual suspects of Rioja and Ribera Del Duero understandably well represented. The white list is shorter but nips around various regions, and there is also a range of cavas and sherries.

What to order

Despite the list being solely Spanish, there are points of difference within the menu to allow you to try something new. At the lighter end of the scale, the Ondas Del Alma Godello from Pazo das Tapias is a peachy, floral white which is only £21 a bottle to drink in. There are several reds from Bodegas Santalba, where winemaker Santiago Ijalba Garcia creates interesting takes on Rioja with only indigenous yeasts. Try his Santalba Carbonic Maceration for a Riojan take on Beaujolais, or go to the other extreme and plump for his Amaro – a wine made using the same techniques as Amarone and including a secret, “mystery” variety as 20% of its makeup.

  • Address: 277 – 279 Deansgate, M3 4EW; 79 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1LQ
  • Opening hours: see website for each site’s schedule
  • evuna.com

Erst

What we like about it

Erst is – you guessed it – a natural wine bar, offering small plates, in Ancoats. However, the team behind it are not jumping on a bandwagon; they are passionate about food and wine, having already run the successful Trove bakery, in Levenshulme, and its eponymous sister café in Ancoats. There is creativity and enthusiasm behind their food and their wine.

Wine list

The list is relatively short but manages to provide a good variety of styles. The old world is king here and yet, with the emphasis on minimal intervention, the selections from France and Italy are rarely the classic or most famous. There are 14 reds, the same number of whites, and seven orange wines available by the bottle. The list is very reasonably priced, with only a handful of offerings priced at more than £70 and the vast majority coming in at under the £50 mark.

What to order

Try the ‘La Rose et la Vampire’ from Slobodne, an estate run by two sisters in the Hlohovec region of Slovakia. The rosé is a blend of Blaufrankisch and Cabernet Sauvignon and is unfined and unfiltered with bright red fruits on the palate. In the whites, there’s a lovely Bourgogne Blanc from the British couple behind the Mischief & Mayhem winery in Aloxe-Corton. And if you fancy red, there’s a fascinating blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Riesling from the father-son team at Domaine Bohn in the Alsace.

  • Address: 9 Murray Street, Ancoats, M4 6HS
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 1:30pm-10:30pm.
  • erst-mcr.co.uk

Wolf at the Door

What we like about it

Before Ancoats became a hipster’s paradise, the Northern Quarter was Manchester’s coolest area. Wolf at the Door is slap bang in the centre of this still cool and still bustling array of shops, bars, and eateries. There are two floors and an outdoor terrace for the days when Manchester’s notoriously rainy weather is behaving itself. It also serves £1 tacos alongside a predominantly natural wine selection and allows diners to bring their own wine for a £10 corkage fee.

Wine list

The list once more concentrates on natural wines, or at least wines with minimal intervention, and hops around various countries although the majority of bottles are old-world. There is a real eye on affordability, with nothing over £75 per bottle and glasses starting at £3.10 for a Sicilian Catarratto. The menu, rather helpfully and honestly, also includes sections for “cloudy” and “challenging” so as not to spring any surprises on those new to natural wines.

What to order

Emil Bauer’s vibrant Pfalz Riesling is a mouthful of fresh, citrus zing and a mouthful of a name too, as “Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll – just Riesling for me thanks” might be the world’s wordiest wine name. The Molino del Ciego is a charming orange Sémillon, from 100-year-old vines in Chile’s Itata Valley, produced by Roberto Henriquez. If you want red, then Jordi Llorens’ 2019 Blankaforti, from Conca de Barberà, is a deep, well-balanced blend made from Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Parellada.

  • Address: 30-32, Thomas St, Northern Quarter M4 1ER
  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 12pm-12am.
  • watd.co.uk

The Creameries

What we like about it

Nestled on a bustling street in the city’s popular Chorlton district, it might not come as a surprise to hear that The Creameries is a wine bar, restaurant, and shop. Mancunians evidently have a thirst for these combined businesses, and when they’ve done this well, who can blame them? The Creameries is heavily focused on sustainability and seasonality with minimal waste, which is certainly something to applaud.

Wine list

The wine list changes to work with the kitchen’s regularly changing menu, all to ensure sustainability. However, the team works with Les Caves De Pyrene, Indigo Wines, Wines Under the Bonnet, Tutto, and Newcomer to maintain their list of organic, biodynamic, and low intervention producers. There are also five wines by the keg, which can be put into refillable bottles for take-away.

What to order

A Muller Thurgau from Vater & Sohn at £18 per bottle is fantastic value for a bar/restaurant list and this is a bright, energetic expression of the grape, bursting with green apples. There are two cracking pét-nat wines,  Piggy Pop & Astro Bunny, from British MW turned winemaker Tim Wildman, who is producing buckets of flavour from his South Australia holdings. If you fancy something sweet, then Mas Amiel’s 2016 Maury Vin Doux Naturel is as good as ever, and one of the few wines that really works with chocolate!

  • Address: 406 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton, M21 0SD
  • Opening hours: check website for lunch and dinner set-menus sittings
  • thecreameries.co.uk

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