New on Wine List Confidential: Bottles

At Bottles in London’s Spitalfields, guests can explore wines from Italy and beyond at the wine bar which boasts a sustainable kitchen, terrace and communal counter.

“Always enjoy what you like and be willing to try something new,” says Edward Semprini, a believer that the best way to learn about wine is via “your local wine man or woman.”

Bustling wine bar and terrace, boutique and deli, Bottles in Old Spitalfields Market is a close friendship between Semprini (‘Bottles & Battles’, Mercato Metropolitano, SE1) and housemates, Carlo Deho and Michele Pompili (‘Sood Family’) who cut their teeth running supper-clubs and street food stalls in East London.

Ground floor bar and open basement kitchen have communal tables, with warmly lit walls wrapped in red and gold bottle stamped Italian newspapers, while spent jeroboams serve as vases. Downstairs, fruit crates are filled with Barolo, Barbera and Arneis – a grape Semprini calls “Italy’s Furmint.”

Citing his “indirect mentor” as Massimo Bottura, dishes by delightfully eccentric Pompili (formerly of Chiltern Firehouse) who has a tattoo of Prince Siddhartha and socks depicting a tank riding fish, are soulful. These may include gutsy fried rice balls with molten Bari Mozzarella at their core and Pecorino, Parmesan and black pepper crusts, brilliantly paired with sleek, meek Rosanna sparkling Nebbiolo Rosé (Ettore Germano). Crisp, grilled Brussels sprouts with pear and miso purée and free range lardo work with weighty Arneis (Giovanni Almondo) meanwhile. And handsome, Barbera d’Alba (Palladino) with Swaledale lamb racks swathed in curry, coriander and carrot purée is a combination Semprini envisages “people can fall in love over.”

Fresh pasta might be formed from offcuts honouring the kitchen’s “zero-waste” policy, enriched with nduja, while platters include the one-meter long cheese and charcuterie board; this is also one of London’s few venues offering an Ibérico pork tartare.

Majoring on Italy, though spotlighting character and quality elsewhere – indeed, Semprini’s ultimate ambition would be to feature at least one wine from every wine producing country – the 200 bins regularly rotate, with 30% discount offered if taken home. Preference is given to winemakers “pouring their heart into it,” says Semprini, including, perhaps ironically given Bottles location, “people who left the City to return to their family farms.”

Semprini, who describes wine as “medicine”, has hospitality in the bloodline (his aunt runs Crossharbour’s Floating Lotus) mentions he dropped out of university a decade ago, pursuing a career in wine initially at Kent’s Chislehurst Wines before becoming buying assistant to Alistair Morrell at Mayfair’s Hedonism. His CV also includes Armit and Liberty Wines.

Deho trained as a lawyer, contending with cross-continental inheritance tax feuds by day while earning his keep in restaurants by night, ultimately deciding hospitality was more enjoyable.

Pompili, meanwhile, who originally studied pharmacy, spends his holidays on scooter tours, encountering interesting culinary situations such as in Mykonos, where he was randomly invited to butcher “a grandma’s massive goat.”

Leave your reply

Most Recent Stories

Environmental activists target Salt Bae's London restaurant

The Knightsbridge outpost of Nusret Gökçe, known to the world as 'Salt Bae', was targeted by activists from campaign group Animal Rebellion who called for the restaurant famous for its gold-covered steaks to serve sustainably-sourced ingredients.

Four in five bars to increase range of no and low alcohol drinks

More than 80% of bars plan to capitalise on a healthy drinking trend among consumers by increasing their range of no and low alcohol drinks in 2023, new research shows.

Jumilla sets its sights on gourmet chefs in 2023

DO Jumilla has conducted an intensive study into the huge pairing potential of wine from this Spanish region with fine cuisine, and is hitting up the world's top chefs with its findings.

Maru in Mayfair appoints Vitalijus Salagubas as new sommelier

Mayfair omakase restaurant Maru has announced the appointment of Vitalijus Salagubas as general manager and sommelier.

Unfiltered: Natalia Ribbe

Natalia Ribbe, who runs Margate wine bar and shop Sète, speaks to Douglas Blyde about bad pairings, how to find value on a wine list, and whether she's ever had to break up a fight between customers.

Most Recent Stories

Environmental activists target Salt Bae's London restaurant

The Knightsbridge outpost of Nusret Gökçe, known to the world as 'Salt Bae', was targeted by activists from campaign group Animal Rebellion who called for the restaurant famous for its gold-covered steaks to serve sustainably-sourced ingredients.

Four in five bars to increase range of no and low alcohol drinks

More than 80% of bars plan to capitalise on a healthy drinking trend among consumers by increasing their range of no and low alcohol drinks in 2023, new research shows.

Jumilla sets its sights on gourmet chefs in 2023

DO Jumilla has conducted an intensive study into the huge pairing potential of wine from this Spanish region with fine cuisine, and is hitting up the world's top chefs with its findings.

Maru in Mayfair appoints Vitalijus Salagubas as new sommelier

Mayfair omakase restaurant Maru has announced the appointment of Vitalijus Salagubas as general manager and sommelier.

Unfiltered: Natalia Ribbe

Natalia Ribbe, who runs Margate wine bar and shop Sète, speaks to Douglas Blyde about bad pairings, how to find value on a wine list, and whether she's ever had to break up a fight between customers.