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Famous London Wine Shops

London has never been a more popular weekend destination for Spanish visitors. So many famous landmarks and museums to see and visit but as someone who is interested in wine, did you know that there are also some historical wine shops that are well worth a visit?

One of the most famous is Berry Brothers & Rudd in St James, which has stood in the same location at 3 St James Street, since 1698, more than 300 years. It is no ordinary wine shop because while it has a world class portfolio of wines. From the outside it was quite an intimidating shop, it looked more like a gentlemen’s club, with the employees dressed morning jackets. Many years ago, when I began my wine career in London, I would walk past and dare not enter, however, I overcame my shyness.

Once inside there is a distinctly old world character, it is quite small and cramped, the doors are narrow and the ceilings low. Then you notice the sloping floor due to subsidence and movement of the building over the centuries. Yet it is still standing.

The most striking emission from this scene were the wines, there were not on display in the shop. I was told that historically wines were not displayed because selections were made following a conversation with the customer to find out their requirement. Maybe wines were for a weekend of shooting grouse on the customers country estate so a suitable selection would be made for the occasion.

One of the characteristics of a company like Berry Brothers is the ability survive and adapt through the tough times. While from the outside everything appears to be old fashioned there have been many changes in recent years, the latest of which is a new wine store, just around the corner at 63 Pall Mall, with an impressively broad selection of top notch wines.

It has a very traditional feel but the displays of wine and the helpful and knowledgeable, staff make it a pleasant way to spend some time on a cold winter afternoon, as I did last weekend.

They have an Enomatic machine which allows you to taste many top wines for a small fee. This is a great way to taste wines before making a decision whether or not to purchase. More importantly, it is a fun way to taste some famous wines.

If you plan your visit ahead they offer a tutored tastings, lunches and dinners which would be a treat and wine experience.

There was a notable presence of many of the most prestigious Spanish wines. The prices are reasonable and not dissimilar to prices in Spain.

My recommendation is to ask for some advice and discover a new wine, after all that is why we travel for new experiences. Good wines are prohibitively expensive in London restaurants so it makes sense to buy something special to drink at home.

So on your next weekend in London, add ‘wine shops’ to you list of things to do and explore.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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