10 London wine-focused pubs and bars to visit when they reopen

Quality Wines

Blyde says: Adjoining the Quality Chop House, a dining room famed for its booths and confit potatoes, Quality Wines is run by Gus Gluck, son of polemicist wine writer, Malcolm Gluck, and chef, Nick Bramham. The engaging selection of 250 wines is available retail or, subject to a modest, blanket £15 levy, to drink-in.

“I’ve always had issues with up-selling and don’t want to push people into uncomfortable spending,” says Gluck of the light margin which enables him to keep stock moving, showing up to 4,000 different wines throughout the year.

Cluck’s “spiritual home” is Australia’s Yarra Valley, where he worked with Mac Forbes, “and still talk to him every week.” He also worked at Neighbourhood Wines, “formerly an old illegal casino for the Melbourne mob,” while his “first real job” was with Vinoteca, London, “during its expansion into Soho, Chiswick and Kings Cross.”

Noting, guests can spend “the same amount of money as going to a show” at Quality Wines, Gluck likes showing wines with “drama” such as the Listán Blanco from the Canary Islands (Suerte del Marques Transando) which evokes, he says, “salty, smoky seadog, Captain Jack Sparrow.” He seeks wines which “bring joy”, such as, with “a burnt orange spray fragrance” Thymiopoulos’ “killer rosé” from Naoussa. He ensures the house wine “is never too generic,” such as Tetramythos’ Roditis from Patras, “which is natural but doesn’t taste weird so might annoy someone who likes to pigeonhole.” At the other end of the spectrum, you may see Domaine Tempier La Migoua Bandol by-the-glass.

In addition to wines, expect a zany collection of spirits including Sri Lankan Arak, “mega-retro” amaros, and sambuca “properly stirred down into milkiness”, as well as the seriously good pre-batched Negroni.

With the menu available on Instagram (@qualitywinesfarringdon) the selection of dishes by Bramham, who previously ran street food business, PO Boys, has been “bulked out” in recent months owing to guest demand, and may include: lardo batutto (beaten) and pineapple crostino, pulpo a la gallego terrine, a truffle and butter sandwich, and pig fat cannolo with whipped ricotta, sour cherry and almond. For larger groups, Gluck himself will prepare a menu for up to 14 at the butcher’s block cellar table.

Expect thoughtful tunes from Gluck’s own vinyl collection, such as, “semi-retro stuff like The Isley Brothers and Donny Hathaway” played on a “sharp, vertical record player.” Of the choices, Gluck observes, “with funk and soul movement music, people start drinking and loosen up.”

To “live within our means,” is the philosophy of Gluck who built shelves from old palates, sourcing other items from eBay.

Having tasted 150 wines in a week, Gluck finds comfort in sharing a bottle of wine with his non-wine-trade partner on days off, whose palate “is not muddled with crap and bollocks.” He also contributes to a “not preachy” podcast dedicated to “communicating why people should drink wine – we’ve got to win the fight!”

You may also find him slipping oysters at Noble Rot, or visiting his friends at Brawn, Bright and P. Franco. “Though we always insult each other for what we do and don’t do, we’re all in it together,” he says.

Quality Wines is offering an at-home service, featuring dinners for two, available for collection or delivery from Thursday to Sunday. Its wine shop remains open, which also sells local produce, and it has even branched into online wine tastings, with samples available to order. More information here

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