Buying wine is all very well and good, but there’s a major downside to popping into your local wine shop or off-licence: they don’t tend to like it very much when you sit down in the shop and crack your newly purchased bottle open. That’s a problem that Pavilion Wine, the newest arrival by Chelsea’s Sloane Square, hopes to have solved.
The first arrival in a new “gourmet quarter” just off the square, Pavilion is currently sitting all by its lonesome, but is soon expected to be joined by a butcher, a bakery, a greengrocer, and other fancy artisanal foodie sorts. For now though, wine’s it, but that’s no bad thing.
The cosy ground floor is all business: this is the shop, which feels impressively bright and airy, despite the slightly cramped quarters. Wines coat two of the four walls, and there’s a lot to pick from. There’s a noticeable focus on French output, almost matching every other country’s combined, but there’s a respectable selection from across both old world and new, including a few oddities such as a Slovenian Chardonnay. The price list hits some pretty dizzying heights, but starts out with a few entries affordable to those of us who don’t live in Chelsea too.
What really sets Pavilion apart though is a spacious upstairs space they’re currently calling a tasting room – though don’t expect any free tastings here. Instead, it’s essentially a small bar, where you can order from a short list of wines by the glass, or drink anything from the shop below – though at a markup, understandably.
There’s a selection of cheese and charcuterie to accompany the alcoholic offerings, and it’s clear that there’s hope that as more businesses move into the neighbouring spaces, Pavilion might be able to expand its own selection, with talk of possible pop-up supper clubs, or joint food and wine tastings.
The walls are adorned with artworks – currently the ‘Marvels of Daily Life’ series by painter Will Guise – with both prints and originals available for sale, so please bear in mind whether there’s a risk you might want to drop a couple of grand on a painting by the time you reach the bottom of a bottle. Just don’t blame us if you wake up the next morning with a splitting headache and a £1,500 picture of a bicycle you don’t really want.
We’re not really sure whether to think of this as a wine shop that’ll let you have a glass or two while you’re there, or a wine bar that’ll let you take a bottle home with you. I suspect it doesn’t matter – they sell wine, and they’ll let you drink it wherever you want. Ours is a Malbec.
Words by Dominic Preston