Superstar sommelier Honey Spencer’s guide to London’s best foodie wine bars

It’s been a busy few months for sommelier Honey Spencer, who recently opened the acclaimed Sune in Hackney (which just so happens to feature in our brand new Top 50 Restaurants in London 2024 list). On top of running one of the hottest spots in town, she’s also just released her first book: ‘Natural Wine, No Drama: An Unpretentious Guide’. An informed look at the complex world of natty wine, it explains the knotty differences between organic, biodynamic and natural winemaking, as well as offering pairing suggestions and nuggets of impressive info that you can casually pass off as your own while enjoying a bottle of Pet Nat with pals. Honey tells Time Out about her favourite London wine bars and restaurants, and gives us the perfect snack-and-plonk pairing suggestion for each. 

Naughty Piglets, Brixton

Honey: ‘It’s been a hot minute since Naughty Piglets opened their inaugural wine bar in an old jerk chicken shop in Brixton. But Lyon-born owner Margaux Aubry never stands still and, as a result, neither does Naughty Piglets. Now in its new era of quarterly rotating chefs who fall over themselves to cook on the venue’s famous grill, this bistro feels more alive and current than ever. Add one of the finest natural wine lists stacked with gems Margaux has been cellaring since the mid 2010s, and you have one of the best places to indulge in the holy trinity of wine, food and service in the whole of London.’ 

Pairing suggestion: ‘Cantina Fermento Santa Madonna 2021 with chargrilled monkfish, lobster bisque, shrimp & pickled grapes.’

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Bar Bruno, Victoria Park

‘Recently opened in East London’s postcard-pretty Victoria Park Village, Bar Bruno has swiftly dealt proof that Hackney’s appetite for natty wine, nifty salty snacks and vintage record players isn’t at risk of subsiding any time soon. The difference between this spot and the rest of east London’s cohort of similar venues however, is the small selection of pretty serious ‘fine’ natural wines which definitely can’t be found elsewhere. Oh, and their selection of giant pretzels proves a refreshing break from local sourdough and canned Perello olives.’

Pairing suggestion: ‘Sensazione Cortese/Muscat by Cascina Lieto, Piedmont. Paired with sunbathing on the terrace suntrap outside.’ 

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Yuki Bar, Hackney

Yuki Bar is the new east London cool kid that, despite being overrun nightly with industry locals, also seems to be on a need-to-know basis. But you do need to know about this wine bar, not least because owner Yuki is Noma’s former sommelier and his selection of bottles is as fascinating and enigmatic as the man himself. Go late on a Friday or Sunday and stay until the lights come up.’

Pairing suggestion: ‘¿Vamos?!Vamos! by Joan Ramon-Escoda and Laureano Serres with braised pork belly and broth.’

the barbary
© Andy Parsons

The Barbary, Covent Garden

‘One of my old haunts and still one of my favourite places to eat and drink in London, The Barbary in Neal’s Yard is a mecca for hungry and thirsty shoppers and pre-theatre hopefuls. The North African-cum-Levantine dishes are a total dream with natural wine, and their short, yet dynamic selection served by the glass provides a great opportunity to taste some of the tastiest natural wines offered within the central London circuit.’

Pairing suggestion: ‘Carboniq by Magula, Slovakia with jaffa cauliflower.’


Papi, London Fields

‘Luckily for me, at the end of my street lies Papi. Situated in the plethora of railway arches north of London Fields, Papi is kind of place that serves up irreverent, F-you items like Ribena Negronis and potato bread with Marmite butter, and I can’t stay away. Sommelier Charlie keeps a tight little list with some real under the radar bangers at very good prices. Trust me on this.’

Pairing suggestion: ‘Karambolage by Jonas Dosert, Mosel, Germany with raw seabream and tosuzu.’

Humble Chicken

Humble Chicken, Soho

‘Definitely one for a blowout, Humble Chicken has to be my favourite restaurant in London. Its drool-worthy Japanese-inspired tasting menu is accented with sommelier and manager Aidan Monk’s ingenious natural wine and sake collection. His rigorous sourcing of off-the-beaten-track bottles and intrepid combinations will leave you in a natural-wine induced head spin.’ 

Pairing suggestion: ‘Bodega Taméran Marmajuelo from Gran Canaria with shokupan (Japanese milk bread) with butter terrine; parsley, truffle, chicken liver parfait.’

‘Natural Wine, No Drama: An Unpretentious Guide’ by Honey Spencer (£25) is out now on Pavilion Books. 

Check out our brand new list of London’s best restaurants for 2024.

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