As well as the city’s many pubs, cocktail bars and eateries, Manchester also has a great selection of wine purveyors, from specialist bars to restaurants with extensive lists.
Some host taster sessions for those with a thirst for knowledge. Some pair wine with delicious food. Others are all about the wine and atmosphere. Here are some of the best places across the city to enjoy a glass or two.
Located over two floors in the city centre’s Barton Arcade, Catalan deli, restaurant and bar, Lunya sells great wine and food from across Spain, including three different hams from the bone and over 40 cheeses. The huge wine menu comprises more than 130 wines, sourced from regions all over Spain. The list is organised by price, with all budgets covered, and features personal recommendations from owners Peter and Elaine. Add to this an extensive selection of vermut, sherry and gin, and there’s nothing more you could want. Look out for Lunya’s events, including wine, gin, cheese and sherry tastings.
Located in the shadow of the cathedral, independent wine merchant Hanging Ditch operates a ‘vinoteca’, a combined shop and wine bar. Bottle-laden shelves stretch along the back wall, with wines available by the glass or bottle to drink in the bar area or on the sun trap terrace. Wine and spirits can be taken away and nibbles and sharing platters are also available. Hanging Ditch hosts a calendar of tasting events, including collaborations with local food purveyors.
Wine and Wallop
With its chandeliers, ceiling roses and chipped wooden stools at a bar lined with coat hooks, West Didsbury’s Wine and Wallop is reminiscent of an understated yet elegant urbanity you might expect from a street side café in Paris or Madrid. The two floored interior and the covered pavement area are perfect for everything from after work drinks in the sun to cosy winter nights. The menu is superb, including some particularly upmarket wines by the glass. It’s also worth looking out for tasting events, with visiting winemakers bringing their offerings. Wine and Wallop also serve food and a range of craft beer to sate even the staunchest wine decliner.
City centre wine bar Salut offers wines from an automated dispenser, with 32 available from as small a measure as 50ml, allowing customers to try a wide selection. Even more are served by the glass from the bar, with 350 available by the bottle. The dispenser spans a wide range of prices, enabling drinkers to sample a dash of delicious upmarket wines where a bottle may be beyond their budget. Salut also sells to take away but only charges £7 corkage for drinking in, waiving this for bottles priced over £50. Complementing the wines is a menu of sharing platters and sandwiches and the bar holds tastings and courses for those looking to learn more.
Albert Square Chop House
Albert’s Chop House keep what has been described as one of the best wine lists in the region. Wine buyer and head sommelier George Bergier is a Manchester hospitality legend and wine authority who celebrated 50 years in the industry earlier this year. George has matched a wine to suit every dish on the menu to showcase Albert’s passion for traditional northern delicacies, robust flavours and the best ingredients. The restaurant recently won the respected Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in acknowledgement of their large wine selection, a well-chosen assortment of quality producers and interesting selections that appeal to a wide range of wine lovers.
Cork of the North
Cork of the North has a much needed wine bar presence in Sale and now a second branch, complete with outside area, in Heaton Moor. This smart shop and bar serves a rotating selection by the glass and bottles from shelves arranged by the grape, with only £8 corkage charged for drinking in. Wine on offer ranges from budget friendly everyday drinkers to the exciting rare and vintage cabinet. The atmosphere is laid back, and the staff are friendly, passionate and knowledgable. The bar serves meat and cheese boards and pinchos to nibble as accompaniment, and hosts a calendar of tasting nights, including themed sessions.
El Gato Negro
This slick tapas restaurant on King Street is renowned for its food and design, but also has an incredible wine list, reaching far beyond the usual Riojas with offerings from across Spain. The menu is split into sections to suit all palates, from light through to rich and powerful and there’s a big choice for those only after a glass. Worth a mention is the Priorat served by the glass, not a common find. Not to be overlooked is the extensive sherry selection, an essential follow up to great tapas. And, of course, there’s a tasty beer and cocktail menu. With bars and seating areas on multiple floors, El Gato Negro is a great place to stay on after a meal or simply to enjoy a bottle. On sunny summer days and warm evenings, head up to roof terrace, complete with retractable roof.
Recently opened on West Didsbury’s Burton Road, cosy Sip doubles up as a wine bar and shop, with lower prices for bottles to take away. The wine list comprises an extensive international mix, including bottles from lesser appreciated producers, such as Hungary, and less famous regions, like Cádiz in Spain. Another selling point are the automatic wine-dispensing machines lining one wall. Drinkers top up a payment card then sample at will, from small tasters to large glasses. This is a great way to enjoy a variety of wines or to decide upon the bottle to share or take home and the selection on offer is changed frequently. Sip also serves a menu of small plates and sharing platters to accompany their wine.
Argentina has long been one of the most prolific wine producing countries in the world. Fortunately for us, sleek Argentinian steakhouse Gaucho is up to their necks in the stuff. Listing their wines by grape variety, starting with the high altitude wines of the north, travelling through Malbec-central Mendoza and then down to the south, Gaucho’s Argentinian wine selection covers a distance of 3000km. With knowledgeable staff on hand to talk you through their 140+ selection and even a special range of vintages produced from their own Argentinian vineyard in the Zona Primera region of Luján de Cuyo by Mendoza by winemaker Mauricio Lorca, you’ll be more than spoilt for choice.
Tapeo and Wine
The Deansgate tapas bar serves a comprehensive menu of Spanish wines from regions across the country. A small but tasty selection are available by the glass, with an extensive list by the bottle, from fresh, young wines to aged reservas. And when you’ve had enough wine, or for a little aperitif, don’t forget to flick to the sherry list. The food is good too, the menu comprising charcuterie, tapas and main dishes, and the environment a stylish mix of modern and traditional.
For low key, fun surroundings in which to sample a few choice glasses over a meal or otherwise, food markets Mackie Mayor, in the city centre, and Altrincham Market are perfect. Reserve Wines, of West Didsbury fame, now have stalls in both locations in addition to their Burton Road shop. The guys at Reserve have great knowledge, which they are always keen to impart, helping customers find the perfect wine. Each market hosts a variety of food stands offering a range of wares amidst a bustling atmosphere and Reserve supplies the wine to go with everything.
Tucked away between Deansgate and Albert Square, Italian wine café Veeno serves all things Sicilian; much of the wine list is stocked from the family vineyard in Sicily, along with a selection of guest wines. In accompaniment is a menu of authentic spuntini appetisers, sharing boards and desserts. Veeno offers a variety of informative tasting sessions, each of which pairs wine with appetisers, finished with tiramisù and a sparkling or sweet wine.