When in Bath, make time for wine! The custom that started with the Roman invasion of the city in AD43 is still going very strong today.
Although it has to be said that it’s unlikely that the Emperors who oversaw Aquae Sulis (the city’s original Roman name) could have predicted just how popular the stylish, sophisticated, welcoming, characterful and diverse range of Bath’s best wine bars would become long since the Romans left the city over 1,500 years ago.
Would Bacchus approve? Most definitely!
We’ve occasionally veered off specific Best Wine Bar in Bath territory here to highlight a handful of contenders for Best Wine Lists in Bath too – not restaurant wine lists (they deserve a category all of their own), but the pubs, bars and hybrids who treat wine drinkers with the respect they deserve. Cheers!
1. Vino Vino
Wine Wine – ah, that’s what we’re after! Take a table on Vino Vino‘s spacious, heated, parasol-covered terrace (or venture within beyond the big picture windows) and browse the massive, global wine list that offers all things to all wine-time people, from novice grape enthusiasts to seasoned aficionados. Confused?
After a chat with one of the friendly staff here, you won’t be. If you fancy a nibble to accompany your tipple, chic charcuterie/cheese boards, stylish sharing platters and a selection of bang-on-trend small plates turn your VV visit into a staycation experience that confirms why this convivial little Saw Close cornerstone repeatedly tops national Best Wine Bar in Bath charts.
Address: 5-6 Saw Close, Bath BA1 1EN
2. The Beckford Bottle Shop
Located at the top of the sloping, cobbled street adjacent to Bath’s Assembly Rooms, The Beckford Bottle Shop combines upmarket off licence with an award-winning wine bar and bistro specialising in wine-friendly small plates, turning it into the Bath equivalent of one of those hip little wine bars in the Haut Marais, complete with pavement tables out front and a selection of tastefully chic, beautifully lit, supremely seductive chill out zones within.
Away from the regularly-updated standard wine list (which isn’t that ‘standard’ at all), a further 250+ intelligently-sourced wines line the shelves here; if you find one that grabs your attention, it’s yours for the retail price plus £15 corkage (which, by the way, is waived every Tuesday).
Address: 5-8 Saville Row, Bath BA1 2QP
This tasteful little wines/fabulous small plates hotspot enjoys cult status amongst both Bathonians in-the-know and tourists who visit Bath specifically for a visit.
The living is easy at Corkage either linger-long and and enjoy wines from a diverse, impeccably-sourced collection by the glass or by the bottle, or go shopping at the in-house Bottle Shop; grab a little plate of something tasty and a glass of wine to go with it, or push the boat out and indulge in a full-on feast to mark a very special occasion.
Whichever direction you choose to take, the staff here are dedicated world-of-wine experts, as enthusiastic to share their obsession as you are about developing your own passion.
The heated, covered terrace garden outback, meanwhile, further ups the ‘magical experience’ ante.
Address: 5 Chapel Row, Bath BA1 1HN
4. Novel Wines
This unique little oasis of oenophiliary – based in an prosaic location on the Upper Bristol Road (on the aptly-named Cork Street, to be precise) – isn’t strictly a wine bar open to all, at all hours.
Regular informal, informative tasting events at Novel Wines (all tipples always accompanied by cheese), however, are so regular that a week without one is like a – well, like a week without great wine and decent cheese: pretty much unbearable, yes?
Novel Wines wine selection is highly regarded across the UK for making the very best international wines from anomalous wine regions across the world understood and accessible to all; wines from, for example, Uruguay, India, Japan and Canada happily sit alongside classic (and lesser-spotted) French/Italian/Spanish varietals amongst a selection of around 300+ bottles on the shelves.
Go forth and expect to discover the unexpected.
Address: 7 Cork Street, Upper Bristol Road, Bath BA1 3BB
If you loved the magical, toyshop vibe of Vianne’s chocolate shop in Joanne Harris’ 1999 novel/Lasse Hallström’s film Chocolat, you’ll love Comptoir+Cuisine.
It’s a cosy, eclectic, split-level combination of wine bar, bistro and shop specialising in exclusive, artisan champagne, a vast range of cheeses and a wonderful wine list that holds masses of promise for wine lovers.
People who enter just to see what’s going on behind the alluring shop front end up leaving hours later, having lunched on truffle-baked camembert and a bottle of Petit Chablis; those who fancy a sneaky glass of Côtes du Rhônecome away singing the praises of Malbec… and those who have never discovered the supreme joys of a glass of thoroughly decent Provence rosépartnered with a perfect portion of sardine pissaladière have a big treat in store.
Address: 5 George Street, Bath BA1 2EJ
One of the original forerunners of the wine bar revolution that hit the UK towards the end of the late 1970s, the Browns franchise continues to thrive despite tough competition from contemporary contenders for the Best Wine Bar in Bath throne.
Based in a historic listed building on Orange Grove (formerly Bath Police Station) and offering views of Bath Abbey from the spacious, covered terrace, the wine list in this bright and breezy brasserie gets the party started with bubbles for all budgets, leading on to a selection that blends tried-and-tested classics with lesser-spotted varietals and significant labels – at the time of writing, for example, there’s a Rothschild Pauillac tucked away in the red wine selection; if you know, you know…
Address: Old Police Station, Orange Grove, Bath BA1 1LP
7. The Yard
Formerly a historic coaching inn built around an equally historic courtyard, there’s yet more to boutique hotel The Yard than a first glance might suggest.
The lovely little bar here is open to non-residents, and the neat little wine list may be small but it’s very perfectly formed: at the time of writing, there’s an outstanding Domaine Muret Picpoul de Pinet tucked within the selection, alongside a velvety Lebanese red that showcases the emerging talent coming out of vineyards on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean (that’ll be the Domaine Des Tourelles Rouge, then).
Wine Geek glasses off again, little nibbles further whet your appetite, and full-on grazing boards are available should you require fortification to bolster you up in readiness for another bottle of that Picpoul.
We just had to feature The Yard on this best wine bars in Bath list, they’ve been working for years to get this location to look the way it does, it’s well worth a visit, it’s beautiful!
Address: 1 Monmouth Place, Bath BA1 2AT
8. The Garrick’s Head
You know those moments were you’re out with a group of people and half of you are in search of the perfect pint while the other half are whining about wine?
Those are the moments when the social SatNav leads you to The Garrick’s Head pub, conveniently situated alongside the Theatre Royal Bath and featuring plenty of covered, heated tables on the theatrical traffic-free lane outside the pub.
The wine list here is a characterful voyage of discovery whether you’re buying by the glass or the bottle (last time we visited, Limoux Chardonnay Toques Et Clochers put paid to Chardonnay’s blighted reputation for mediocrity), and if proprietor Charlie is in the house, he’s the perfect tour guide.
As for the pint party people: they’ll have a ball too, oh and it’s ranked one of our best dog friendly pubs in Bath!
Address: 7-8, St John’s Place, Bath BA1 1ET
9. The Bathampton Mill
This stylishly-sprawling riverside bar and restaurant (offering, of course, stylishly-sprawling riverside views from the stylishly-sprawling terraces and garden) has warm welcome flexibility at the heart of its stylishly-sprawling menus – not least of all the stylishly-sprawling wine list.
Wines at The Bathampton Mill are helpfully categorised by style: ‘Elegant and Refined’, ‘Delicious and Powerful’, ‘Rich and Intense’, etc; take your pick of personalities and embark on a deep dive through the suggestions until you’ve found your perfect match.
Feeling generous and richly fruity, for example? The Chilean Errázuriz Merlot is the one for you! If you’re after a full-on, luxury wine date, push the boat out for the Bathampton Mill’s Luxury Wine and Dine experience.
This is an absolute must feature in our best wine bars in Bath list!
Address: Mill Lane, Bathampton, Bath BA2 6TS
10. The Wheatsheaf, Combe Hay
If there’s one thing that can draw your attention away from swooning over the perfect pastoral paradise backdrop to The Wheatsheaf in Combe Hay, it’s the wine list.
From a straightforward glass of Portuguese Vino Verde to a magnum of very grand Margaux, it’s all here, by way of all the Chablis, Burgundies, Riojas, Picpouls and Valpolicellas you can shake a bunch of grapes at, and much, much more – and the Bin Ends are well worth rifling through too.
In terms of Best Wine Lists in Bath, we’ve probably saved one of the best ’til last… but only because we’ve taken a short detour 4 miles/6km south of the city centre so we’re verging on taxi territory.
Once you’ve made the (short) trek out of town, though, it would of course be rude not to stay for the food – grub at a pub with a Wine List like the Wheatsheaf’s Wine List isn’t going to let you down, is it?
Address: Combe Hay Lane, Combe Hay, Bath BA2 7EG
There’s a look at the best Wine bars in Bath, from local hidden gems, to family run pubs on the outskirts, cheers!
Melissa relocated from Liverpool to Bath in 1999 and has since made the city her official first home. She has 30+ years of published freelance writing commissions on her CV and is a regular contributor to several local and national publications, typically specialising in restaurant and theatre reviews, food-related features and interviews with interesting people.