Birmingham is officially the most populous city outside of London; however, polling shows that most Britons consider Manchester to be the nation’s second city. You may remember last month, we discussed Birmingham’s best wine bars. Well, this month we look north and explore the go-to spots for wine lovers in Manchester. Francesca Gaffey lives just outside Manchester and is a wine hobbyist in her free time. Check out her selection of corking wine bars in the city centre …
Salut Wines – Cosy and comfortable
Tucked away behind Manchester’s Victorian, neo-gothic town hall, Salut has over 300 wines to choose from with the option to either sit in and share or take home. The bar usually has over 40 wines available by the glass and boasts several Enomatic machines offering different sized measures for those wanting to try out something new. The staff are knowledgeable and happy to help with choices and suggestions, plus there’s plenty of space to sit, stand, perch and browse the available stock in a friendly, easy-going atmosphere.
Salut runs regular tastings and courses for those wanting to learn more, and offers cheese and meat platters, sandwiches, snacks and a selection of spirits and beers too.
11 Cooper Street, M2 2FW – https://salut.co.uk
Reserve at Mackie Mayor – Fun and friendly
A short walk through the Northern Quarter takes you to the Grade Two listed 1858 indoor market building, which has been brilliantly renovated and converted into a very cool dining and drinking destination.
Reserve at Mackie Mayor supplies wine either by the bottle to enjoy at the communal long tables, or to take away, and rotates wines by the glass chalked up on the boards, often poured straight from the eco-friendly kegs. Many of the team are WSET students, graduates and tutors so they know their Primitivo from their Pinot Noir. Once you’ve chosen your wine, you can pair it with anything from a bao, steak or ribs, to fish and chips from any of the top-end food traders.
Jason is one of my favourite people there and while his passion is port and fortified wines, he’s always ready to share intel on the latest gem, wine fact or give you a taster from the keg – you will definitely leave feeling you have learned something new and sipped something super!
Reserve Wines has three other shops around the city, in West Didsbury, Altrincham and Warrington, and has an online shop for home delivery too.
1 Eagle Street, M4 5BU – https://www.reservewines.co.uk/pages/store-mackie-mayor
Flok – Sherry baby
Flok is unique, it’s a sherry specialist, wine bar and eatery with a gold underground vault, outdoor seating and a stylish Spanish-influenced interior. It’s in the Northern Quarter so has a relaxed, cool vibe and features reclaimed materials, leather booths, high stools, large windows, tall ceilings…old polaroid cameras, vintage telephones… and more!
It serves an interesting selection of fortified wines, maderias, ports, vermouths, natural, biodynamic and organic wines, as well as rare and top-end wines thanks to the Coravin dispenser. For beer fans, it offers craft ales, from a keg wall and local beers on hand pumps and in cans. Small plates, appetisers, tapas and pintxos are on the menu from artisan producers in Spain, Italy, France and the UK, with breakfasts and coffees available too.
It’s in an old bank, so don’t miss a trip to the loo through the original vaulted door!
5 Stevenson Square, M1 1DN
Hanging Ditch – Sip in the sun
One of the original wine specialists in the city centre, Hanging Ditch opened in 2008 near the Cathedral and features historic surroundings, a huge wall of wine to drink in or take away, and lovely suntraps to sit in on a sunny day (yes we have sunshine in Manchester… sometimes) It’s perfect for wine lovers to enjoy a spot of people watching, sample some fine wines from £10 to well over £100 in a relaxed atmosphere, and pore over the esoteric selections such as Orange Portuguese wines. It will also be opening a second site during 2019 at Blossom Street Social in Ancoats on the opposite side of the city with wines, craft beers on keg and a cocktail list.
Britannic Buildings, 42-44 Victoria Street, M3 1ST – https://www.hangingditch.com
Harvey Nichols deli and wine shop – Top tipples
Right across the road is Harvey Nichols and while you might not automatically think of it for a drink, the wine shop and deli counter on the second floor is a must-visit after shopping, before heading on a night out or for a light boozy lunch. Pull up a stool, choose some cheese or charcuterie from the deli, or ask a member of the team to suggest a pairing to go with your wine (or vice versa).
On the team there, Ilona is a wine friend of mine and she will be only too happy to help you make your selections, she knows the bottles on both the shelf and the wine list inside out. She’s so enthusiastic, helpful and friendly and really knows her stuff about the most unusual wines, grapes and regions so pop in to try something new.
Many of the wines are stocked exclusively by HN and the team has put together a fantastic range of wines, Champagnes and spirits in their own label and from some highly regarded producers. There’s also a brasserie and bar on the same floor if you fancy a meal or cocktails with a fantastic view of the city.
21 New Cathedral Street, M1 1AD – https://www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/manchester-dining/wine-shop/
20 Stories – Sky high
20 floors up above Spinningfields you will find the extravagant 20 Stories, a rooftop bar, restaurant, outdoor terrace and cocktail bar. It’s pricey and attracts top-end clientele, but it’s perfect for a celebration, special occasion or just for a treat. Inside, the bar area is inspired by Manchester’s industrial and agricultural past while the huge outdoor (all-weather) roof terrace offers striking 360-degree views of the Manchester skyline (and further afield on a clear day).
Five Eurocave fridges display over 600 wines chosen by head sommelier Fabia Bracco and there is something to suit all budgets and taste preferences, up to about £3500 if it’s a really special occasion …
It’s one of the only places to serve English sparkling and still wine by the glass in the city centre (Nyetimber and London Cru), along with an eclectic wine list including British, Israeli, American, Portuguese, Hungarian, Greek, German, Indian (and more) wines, and even more by the bottle, magnum, and Coravin. It’s D&D London’s first Manchester venture and is popular among the stylish city slickers for sunset drinks, so bring your latest contactless payment device, dress up smartly and savour every sip!
1 Spinningfields, M3 3EB – https://20stories.co.uk
Follow Francesca on Twitter @francescagaffey or Instagram @francescagaffey for wine updates from Manchester and from her travels around the UK and the world.