Gordon's is the oldest wine bar in London. Established in 1890, it's open daily in a basement near Charing Cross Station. The ceiling is low and the seating is in alcoves that occasionally drip on your head. But this is one of the most well-loved, candle-lit, damp basements in London. No-one wants it to change and there's uproar whenever there are rumors that it'll have to close. Its clientele are loyal and all ages and have to get along as it's not very big down there. There's hot and cold food, with daily specials, as well as the cheese selection.
Gordon's Wine Bar, 47 Villier's Street, WC2 6NE
Vivat Bacchus has two branches and thousands of wines to choose from, although they do have a South African bias. They realize the importance of cheese too and have cheese rooms at each branch where customers are invited to taste and select. Quality is the key here so it's not another dark basement. They also have regular wine tasting events.
Farringdon: Vivat Bacchus Restaurant & Wine Cellar, 47 Farringdon Street, London EC4A 4LL
London Bridge: Vivat Bacchus, 4 Hays Lane, London Bridge, London SE1 2HB
This popular basement venue in Covent Garden Market is probably best known as the wine bar in the piazza that has outdoor seating next to the live opera singers. As well as lunch, afternoon tea and dinner they also offer a British Cheese Selection to go with their extensive wine list. I've tried a cheeseboard of eight British cheeses with wine pairings and can report this was a wonderful and delicious way to spend an evening with friends. You can choose less than eight cheese but I liked the chance to try matching wines by the glass which made this almost educational. I say almost as I was trying so many wines I can't really remember all I learnt!
Crusting Pipe, 27 The Market, Covent Garden WC2E 8RD
4. Le Beaujolais
I've been told this was the first French wine bar in London and although it's small -'intimate' we call it - its excellent wine and cheese selection keep it eternally popular so get there early. Staff can help with wine choice and you can even taste wines before ordering a bottle. There's blues and jazz music in the bar, yet not too loud so you can have a good chat over a bottle of wine with friends. Downstairs there's a members-only restaurant.
Le Beaujolais, 25 Litchfield Street, London, WC2H 9NJ
5. Bar Battu
This City-based natural wine bar is passionate abut natural wines and about the pleasure good wine and food can bring.
Bar Battu, 48 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7AY
Cafe des Amis has a bar/brasserie and a restaurant but the bar is where you need to be for the cheese platter and wine selection. Costs a little bit more here, but it's a nice place and the staff are friendly. Being on a side street means it's popular with regular diners and not too much passing trade.
Cafe des Amis, 11-14 Hanover Place, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9JP
This Covent Garden wine bar is downstairs and has an extensive wine list, although it's not the cheapest place to hang out. It is more popular with locals though and sometimes that's what you're looking for. As well as the cheese selection (nice sharing cheese boards on the menu), there's charcuterie and olives too.
Bedford & Strand, 1a Bedford Stret, London WC2E 9HH
Another basement wine cellar with cavern type alcoves. Cork and Bottle has been here since 1972 and it's all about relaxing and enjoying decent food and wine. Customer service is important and they like to offer what you want, when you want it. So ask for a cheese platter at lunchtime or late in the evening and they'll accommodate.
Cork and Bottle, 44-46 Cranbourn Street, London WC2H 7AN
Terriors is about food and wine which is natural and free of additives, being served in a fun, friendly and stimulating environment.
Terroirs, 5 Willliam IV Street, London WC2N 4DW
Le Pain Quotidien has many London locations, but I've heard good things about the one on the South Bank, next to the Royal Festival Hall. Platters are served with Le Pain Quotidien organic bread and the wine is served is over-sized glasses.
Many locations across London.