London’s new wave wine bars

Sager + Wilde in Hoxton

Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde, owners of Sager + Wilde in Hoxton

A similar ethos applies at Sager + Wilde in Hoxton. Starting life as a pop-up run by wine fanatic husband and wife duo Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde, the 45-seater, no-reservations bar is achingly hip in an unpretentious way, with open brickwork walls, 1920s station lights and a cast-iron bar.

Serving everything from big-gun producers such as California’s Ridge and Argentina’s Achaval Ferrer to hard-to-source bottles from boutique eat.drink: wine bars estates via Galician Godello and Rheingau Riesling for a set £20 mark-up, the more you pay, the better value you get on your chosen bottle.

“We thought there was a gap in the market for a place like this and that it was worth taking the risk,” begins the softly spoken Charlotte Sager-Wilde. Keen to appeal to both wine geeks and novices, the pair source wines from around 20 different suppliers, with a large proportion hailing from West London-based independent merchant Roberson, which Charlotte describes as being “instrumental” in helping to get the original pop-up, housed in a coffee shop in Old Street, off the ground in late 2012.

In order to make money from wines with a small mark up, a “high-quality, low-maintenance” food offering was essential. Serving only cheese toasties when it opened last August, the bar’s menu has since expanded to incorporate the likes of nduja on toast, boquerones, bresaola and air-cured tuna, along with cheese and charcuterie platters.

“We’re able to run on a low margin as we don’t have to pay a Michelin-starred chef’s salary, the rent in Hoxton is relatively low compared with the rest of London and we don’t have a huge kitchen to maintain – our no-frills approach was intentional,” says Michael Sager-Wilde, who managed Milk & Honey in Soho for a year before embarking on Sager + Wilde. The wine list at S+W changes on a daily basis, with new menus printed out each morning.

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