The only thing more exciting than Timberyard’s lunch and dinner tasting menus is its paired wines, exclusively from small European producers and all listed as natural. The restaurant has become the poster child for Edinburgh’s new-wave wine scene thanks to its quirky yet high-quality bottles, picking up a slew of awards and rosettes for its food and drink along the way.
Opened in 1983 in a wine cellar that traces its roots back to 1766, this Edinburgh institution has continued to move with the times, expanding beyond its traditional French and Italian heartland into the New World. You’ll find bottles by Edinburgh-based Master of Wine Giles Cooke, who makes wine in Australia. Its ‘Scottish Connection’ wine flight is a fun idea.
Housed in a former Polish church, Le Di-Vin feels like a classic French wine bar, even down to the charcuterie and cheese boards, which are an absolute delight. Head up to the mezzanine for a better view of the giant mural on the wall and see if you can spot some of the famous faces immortalised as art.
A well-aimed stone’s throw around the corner from Smith & Gertrude, Good Brothers combines good food with good wine. The wine list in the bar and bottle shop is a treasure trove of unusual delights, with the knowledgeable staff on hand to offer advice, explanations and suggestions. Look out for special offers, when drink-in bottles are available at take-home prices.
Billed as Scotland’s oldest delicatessen and Italian wine merchant, Valvona & Crolla was founded in 1934 and picked up a royal warrant from the Queen on its journey to becoming the Edinburgh stalwart it is today. The independent family business has its shop and wine bar on Elm Row at the top of Leith Walk, where it offers one of the most impressive selections of Italian wine outside Bel Paese.
Prosecco giant Zonin chose Edinburgh as the first location for its chain of wine hotels, with the wood-panelled bar becoming the template for outlets across the world. Sneak through to the wine library behind the bar and grab a seat on the benches around the central communal table, and there spend the night debating the merits of Barolo versus Brunello.
Tucked away in the Stockbridge district, Smith & Gertrude is the type of wine bar where a quick drink with friends soon turns into an expansive evening of merriment while exploring its wine list, which has depth as well as breadth. The record player and collection of albums in the corner is the icing on the cake.
Fhior epitomises everything that’s exciting about Edinburgh’s food scene – high-quality Scottish ingredients spun into creative dishes. Diners can opt for an element of theatrics by selecting the four- or seven-course tasting menus, with the identity of the dishes and their ingredients only revealed from a sealed envelope at the end of the meal. The wine pairings are equally as creative as the dishes.
The haggis bon bons are among the ‘must- try’ bites on The Bon Vivant restaurant’s menu. Wash them down with an exciting choice from its wine list, with everything available by the glass, carafe or bottle.
Then head next door on Thistle Street to The Bon Vivant’s Companion bottle shop or to one of the group’s other bars, including the new Lady Libertine and The Register Club, both inside the swanky Edinburgh Grand apartment-hotel nearby.
Peter Ranscombe is a freelance journalist and wine columnist for Scottish Field magazine