So often, when I'm asked what wine I'd like, I often stick to the things I know. But the Black Bottle, Winchester allows one to be more daring, to break my dirty wine mediocrity habits and explore the realms of possibility. David Nicholson and his team had this in mind when he created The Black Bottle; where customers have free rein to try either samples or glasses from the 120 bottle collection.
On stepping over the threshold of the small two storey house, that dates back to the 19th Century, you are welcomed into the reception area where you load up your pre-charged card. There are three rooms on each floor, and in each the wines are dispensed from the eight-bottle Enomatic dispensers. Generally speaking there is a red and white room on each floor, with a selection of at least 32 wines available in any one evening. The handy selection of board games really puts the nail in your rock 'n 'roll coffin, but makes a refreshing change from the usual pool table and darts board. The atmosphere is relaxed, hipster-chic that won't be going out of fashion any time soon. Not when the wine is that good anyway.
As a student, I used to go to it's sister pub, The Black Boy - even more bizarre and quirky and so characterful: false teeth embedded in the bar and surgical equipment hanging from the ceiling above your head in the toilet. The landlord regularly served us in his pyjamas and slippers. It may sound gimmicky, but in a world of superficial selling points, this place is the real deal.
To compliment this, just a few doors down, The Black Rat is their Michelin Star restaurant, although book well ahead as it's very popular, but definitely worth a visit.