Simon Richardson explores the best spots around the city for worshipping the vine
Wine and winter – could there be a better combination? For me, it’s the Torvill and Dean of boozing. As soon as the nights start drawing in, I get a hankering for a delicious glass of red; something strong, full-bodied and intense. Fortunately, Leeds has got more than a few drinking places to choose from – a mix of dedicated wine bars and bars that serve great wine, with selections, sizes and atmospheres to suit everyone. Here are the establishments that I’ll be calling home over the coming months.
Small, intimate and tucked away, Wino is an absolute gem of a bar. Open five days per week, it serves all the wines on the menu by the glass or bottle and you can tuck into one of their excellent food boards while you drink the cold away. My personal favourite is the Mediterranean board – octopus, anchovies and manchego. Their wine list changes regularly, but always contains some less standard choices, including wines from Slovenia, Hungary and Turkey.
Wino, 69 St Paul's St, Leeds LS1 2TE | Tel: 0113 3455960
The Reliance has something of a reputation for food and beer, but it’s wine that keeps me going back. Italy and France dominate the menu here, with an extensive selection of both red and white wine, as well as a couple of skin contact whites on offer. There’s also a delicious sweet Riesling on the winter list to accompany a comforting dessert, and several magnums if you’re in the mood for sharing (or not).
The Reliance, 76-78 North St, Leeds LS2 7PN | Tel: 0113 295 6060
If you know your Valpolicella from your Montepulciano, then Veeno’s the place for you. They’ve grown over the last few years and now have two venues to choose from, with the second at the (relatively) new Wellington Place. The main wine offering comes from their own family vineyard in Sicily, but they also have a list of guest wines to complement – all Italian, of course. Veeno also offer wine flights and a few food and wine pairing options.
Veeno, Duncan Street, Leeds LS1 6DQ | Tel: 0113 243 3401
Livin’ Italy is an Italian restaurant, first and foremost – and it’s excellent. But it’s also a great place to pop in and enjoy a glass of wine. It’s lively, friendly and has an enomatic wine dispenser – just top up your card, select your wine and press the button. Livin’ Italy have an extensive range of Italian wines on offer – some of which are their own. And if you pop down at aperitivo time between 5 and 7pm on a weeknight, you can get a bit of free Italian buffet food to go with your wine.
Livin’ Italy, Granary Wharf, Leeds, LS1 4BR Tel: 0113 243 0090
Moving away from the city centre, Wayward has to be one of the most exciting openings of the last few years. Plenty of bottle shops now open as bars – so why not wine shops too? Pay a £10 corkage fee and you can sit in this tiny wine mecca and enjoy anything they have on offer, as well as a small list of wines by the glass. The focus here is on independent producers, so expect some really interesting offerings and a lot of knowledgeable advice to help you with your choice. Oh, and they’re next to George and Joseph, so they serve some of their cheese too. Heaven.
Wayward Wines, 1C Regent St, Leeds LS7 4PE | Tel: 0113 266 8758
If you’re looking for choice, Decanter might be your new favourite bar. The wine list is huge and sorted by grape to help you get to where you want to go a bit more quickly. For the vast majority, you can choose two different glass sizes, a carafe or a full bottle, and if you start to think that the list contains one too many familiar names, they have a section of the menu dedicated entirely to adventurous drinkers - that’s where I like to ply my trade. As with the other bars on this list, you can also get plenty of cheese and cured meat to go with your tipple. It’s a busy old bar though, particularly on weekends, so have a back-up in mind if you’re not going down early.
The Decanter,17 Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JQ
The stunning main room draws diners from all over the city, but it’s the wine bar that’s the true catch at Iberica. With over 70 wines from all over Spain – including some boutique options that aren’t available anywhere else in the UK – the basement bar has to be up there with the best in the city in terms of comfort and quality. And if you don’t like wine (why are you still reading this?), then you can also attack the sherry and vermouth lists to your heart’s content.
Iberica, Hepper House, 17a E Parade, Leeds LS1 2BH | Tel: 01134 037 007