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Newcastle – a wine lover’s guide

Newcastle has been slowly growing a reputation as a dynamic culinary city, and now it’s time for the wine scene to shine. Here is your guide to the north-east city’s best places for wine lovers, from cosy neighbourhood bars to sleek restaurants with impeccable wine lists.

Newcastle’s drinking scene is world famous thanks to a mix of party hotspots and old-school pubs, some of which date back to the 16th century. Dotted along the city’s medieval streets, by the banks of the River Tyne and in its vibrant neighbourhoods, however, is a growing number of independent bars and restaurants with world-class wine lists.


Kaltur

Best for Spanish wines

Kaltur

Kaltur

What we like about it

A sunny slice of Spain in the centre of Newcastle, Kaltur is the type of cosy spot one might expect to find in a leafy plaza in Madrid or Barcelona. The warmly lit bar, in a honey-hued Georgian building between the city centre and the Quayside, serves excellent Spanish wines and tapas.

Wine list

The extensive list focuses exclusively on Spanish wines, categorised by region from Alicante to Zaragoza. Among familiar Rioja wines are some more unusual vintages, aged sherries, and sweet wines from Jerez.

What to order

Prices range from around £20 to £52, and it’s such a thoughtfully curated list that nothing feels like a risk. They also offer around a dozen wines by the glass, alongside a small but excellent vermouth selection, so pairing a few different styles with tapas or charcuterie is a good way to go.

For a great value bottle that pairs beautifully with most of the menu, try the Albariño from Viña Sobreira in Spain’s Rias Baixas region, priced at £29. It’s made with old-vine grapes giving strong minerality balanced with an elegant freshness, and is especially good with any of the seafood tapas and cheeses.

Address: 19 Dean Street, NE1 1PQ
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 12pm-10pm
kalturrestaurant.co.uk


Nest in the North

Best for natural and organic wines

What we like about it

On Heaton’s thriving Chillingham Road, Nest is as cosy as its name suggests. With an innovative tasting menu, elevated Sunday lunch and deli boards, all paired with a thoughtful wine list, coming here is like visiting a friend who happens to be an incredible chef and sommelier (and who often has a waiting list).

Wine list

The wine is at least as important as the food here, with a few dozen carefully selected bottles and a handful offered by the glass or 500ml carafe. There’s a variety of styles from Italy, Spain and France plus some excellent new world wines. The common thread is the focus on organic, natural and rare wines.

What to order

Everything is reliably excellent, though among the more interesting offerings are an elegantly complex orange wine from Unico Zelo in South Australia, £38, and the Oremus Mandolás Dry Furmint, £45, a bright, aromatic white from Tokaj with a balance of fresh citrus and mineral notes.

Or you can sit back and let the knowledgable staff do the work by ordering the tasting menu with wine pairing. The choices are always impeccable.

Address: 260 Chillingham Road, Heaton, NE6 5LQ
Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday 12pm-late; Sunday 11.30am-6pm
nestinthenorth.com


Carruthers & Kent

Best for discovering new favourites

Carruthers & Kent

Carruthers & Kent

What we like about it

This little Italian-style enoteca, just off the High Street in upscale Gosforth, is a warm, cosy hug of a place, and one of a growing number of bottle shop/wine bar hybrids. There’s a handful of tables where people can linger over a glass or bottle with nibbles, from cheese and charcuterie boards to Northumberland sausage rolls.

Wine list

Floor-to-ceiling shelves heave with bottles that can be enjoyed on site for a small corkage fee. There’s also a monthly selection of 16 wines by the glass. The majority tend to be from Europe, with a few notable new world wines in the mix.

What to order

The knowledgeable owners are always happy to recommend something (and their enthusiasm is infectious), or you can try a flight of three 50ml pours. Quinta Calcada bubbles from Portugal (£5.95 for a glass) are reliably good too.

Address: 3A Elmfield Road, Gosforth, NE3 4AY
Opening hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 12pm-5pm; Thursday 12pm-6pm; Friday & Saturday 12pm-9pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm
carruthersandkent.com


WC Newcastle

Best for fine wines at cheap prices

WC Newcastle

WC Newcastle

What we like about it

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the wine bar: WC Newcastle is located in a Victorian-built former gent’s toilets, known as the ‘flying saucer loos’ due to the unusual glass-domed roof. The space has been transformed (thankfully) into an elegant subterranean bar, whose unique history and architecture is all part of the charm.

Wine list

Around three-dozen wines make up the eclectic, excellent-value list. These include fine wines poured via a Coravin and intriguing finds such as a blend of Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Lebanon.

What to order

Most are also sold by the glass, starting at £4 – incredible value, for some really decent wines such as a bracingly fresh Australian Pinot Grigio and a plummy Primitivo from Puglia.

The priciest is a Château de La Riviere Fronsac from Bordeaux, £70 a bottle or £13.50 for a small glass – pretty reasonable for this big, bold wine, with aromas of bramble, leather and spice.

Address: Bigg Market, NE1 1UW
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 4pm-11pm; Friday 2pm-1am; Saturday 12pm-1am
wcnewcastle.co.uk


Cook House

Best for experimental wines

Cook House

Cook House

What we like about it

Cook House was born in a shipping container, which is apt considering its location in arty Ouseburn, once a shipping hub. The restaurant has since graduated to a bigger brick structure yet still has an industrial-chic vibe, complementing the edgy menu of seasonal small plates and unique wines.

Wine list

At first glance the selection is wildly eclectic, though there’s a common thread: each bottle is just a little bit unusual, from natural wines fermented with wild yeast to herbaceous skin-contact whites.

What to order

A handful of wines are offered by the glass, which is perfect if you fancy trying something new but aren’t quite ready to commit. You might be intrigued to taste a few different vintages, anyway.

For something special, we recommend a bottle of the Calcarius Nu Litr Orange from Puglia, £46. Its lively, surprising aromas of green herbs, earthy spices and mandarin are a good match for zingy dishes like figs with ricotta.

Address: Foundry Lane Studios, Foundry Lane, NE6 1LH
Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 10am-11pm; Sunday 11am-4pm
cookhouse.org


The French Quarter

Best for French wines

French Quarter

French Quarter

What we like about it

Billed as ‘French dining without the fuss’, this is the type of spot you might happily stumble across in Paris: cosy, chic, unpretentious and serving exemplary French food and wines. The French Quarter’s location, tucked in a railway arch just far enough from the main drag, adds to its abundant charms.

Wine list

The extensive list is, of course, exclusively made up of French wines, which is as it should be. Prices run the gauntlet from around the £20 mark to over £200 for world-class vintages from Burgundy and Bordeaux.

What to order

The flights, from £9.95, are an excellent introduction to the list; they’re divided into easy drinking or ‘discovery’ wines, or you can select any three wines sold by the glass. There’s also a decent house white or red sold by the glass, carafe or bottle, from £4.

If the Parisian atmosphere gets you in the mood, you might be tempted to splash out on the Château Talbot from St-Julien, Bordeaux, £125, a complex claret with notes of blackcurrant, chocolate and vanilla with smoke.

Address: Arch 6, Westgate Road, NE1 1SA
Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday 12pm-11pm; Friday and Saturday 12pm-11.30pm
frenchquarternewcastle.co.uk


Six BALTIC

Best for food-pairing wines

Six Baltic

Six Baltic

What we like about it

Inside the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Six has sweeping views of the River Tyne and its iconic, looping bridges. The best tables are in the rooftop restaurant (there’s also a ground-floor terrace), where impeccable modern British cuisine is thoughtfully paired with excellent wines.

Wine list

The compact, perfectly curated selection doesn’t favour any particular region. Rather, it’s all about quality and what pairs best with the menu. There’s a barrel-fermented Rioja Blanco, for example, and a Chilean Carmenère, which bursts with black plum and smoke.

What to order

Ask the savvy sommeliers to recommend pairings for the seasonal cuisine, which includes dishes like heirloom carrots with whipped feta and Northumbrian lamb with charred aubergine. Most wines are sold by the glass, too, so you don’t have to commit for the entire meal.

For a very special wine (with a matching price tag), the Vigna La Rosa Barolo, £115, from Piedmont is an earthy delight with notes of tobacco and red cherry.

Address: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, South Shore Road, Gateshead Quays, NE8 3BA
Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 10am-11pm; Sunday 10am-6pm
sixbaltic.com


Allard’s on the Quay

Best for ordering by the glass

Allards

Allards

What we like about it

It’s worth the quick hop from the city centre to check out Allard’s on the Quay in North Shields, a vibrant and dynamic coastal area. The bar is right by the water and pours good-value wines in its rather decadent, gilded bar area and restaurant, both of which serve tapas.

Wine list

Bottles are divided into old and new world whites and reds, with a few decent rosés, while there’s also an extensive list of wines and bubbles by the glass. Prices start at around £3.40 for a decent Pinot Noir or brightly herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.

What to order

Low prices make it easy to experiment and there are often specials, so do ask the bar staff. One of our favourites is the El Púgil Tempranillo from Spain, with its long finish of cherry, wild strawberry and vanilla and which belies its £4 (£21.95 for a bottle) price.

Address: 1 Union Quay, North Shields, NE30 1HJ
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 11.30am-11pm; Friday & Saturday 11.30am-1am
allardslounge.co.uk


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