One thing is for sure when I speak about the northwest of England, more specifically Manchester, we love a good drink—well, when the time is right! Manchester is known for its massive craft ale scene, coffee scene, and of course for its incredibly talented musicians (Oasis, New Order, the list goes on). But within the last five years, the city has become home to a thriving natural wine scene, with interest around the movement growing on a daily basis.  As the legendary Ian Brown of The Stone Roses famously said, “Manchester’s got everything except a beach,” which should tell you it was only a matter of when and not if the natural wine movement would get a grasp here.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of! So let me be your guide to a Sprudge tour of five of the very best natural wine bars and shops in Manchester. When you feel like the time is right, and you are comfortable with the current social distancing measures, I highly recommend you indulge on this list. Get yourself exploring each one of these wine bars and you’ll be guaranteed to find a new favorite wine bar here in Manny!

 

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Isca

Isca is a classy, modern establishment founded by Caroline Dubois and Isobel Jenkins. These two are well-equipped to be leaders in the city’s scene: Dubois handpicks the wine list at the prestigious Where The Light Gets In, which is a restaurant that’s based in the outskirts of Manchester in Stockport who are solely focused on the use of locally sourced, organic British produce; Jenkins has been cooking up a storm for many years around Manchester, and she’s also the proud owner of the critically acclaimed supper club Season’s Eatings (definitely check her out on Instagram, great content).

In 2019 these two visionaries of the wine and food industry decided to join forces, and as a result Isca was born. Isca began its life with a series of pop ups in and around Manchester to rave reviews, so it only made sense that within just a few months of starting as a business Isca turned into an all-year-round natural wine spot.

Call it a hole in the wall, a wine bar, a natural wine shop, a deli, you name it and they’ve managed to cover it in this quaint, yet intimate space in Levenshulme Village. The experience in Isca is like no other, their wine selection is off the charts thanks to Dubois’ savvy vigneron connections. And the freshly-made food which is well suited to eat inside or on-the-go is to die for, courtesy of Jenkins. This is a must-visit location, and an integral part of the natural wine scene here in Manchester.

Isca is located at 825 Stockport Rd, Levenshulme, Manchester. Visit their official website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Erst

If you are looking for a completely harmonious experience between food and wine then Erst has to be your go-to spot in Manchester. At the moment Erst is an incredibly popular, booming with business thanks to a recent review from Jay Rayner of The Guardian, who called Erst “One of the best meals of the year.

Erst is the sister restaurant located just two doors down from Trove Foods, one of the best organic bakeries in Manchester city centre. The modern furnishings take all of your attention as soon as you walk in the front doors, blending Japanese and Scandinavian sensibilities with outstanding hospitality (including a greeting upon entering the door). The ethos at Erst is to strictly work with organic or natural products and ingredients, which is massively inspired by their organic roots in Trove Foods. This mentality sits perfectly with the outstanding natural wine selection they also have at the bar.

Be sure to grab a quick bar snack next to a glass of something fresh and juicy from the bar’s by the glass list. Erst is perhaps the best spot in the city center for a bar snack joined by a glass of natural wine!

Erst is located at 9 Murray St, Ancoats, Manchester. Visit their official website and follow them on Instagram.

 

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Flawd

Just a ten-minute walk from Erst in Ancoats you have Flawd, Manchester’s latest natural wine bar, which is located on the waterfront of Islington Marina. Believe me, the location sounds a lot more tropical than what it actually is… Islington Marina is actually just a safe docking area for local canal boats to spend a few days and nights without being too heavily disturbed. Here in Manchester the Marina area has a cool mini park going around it, as well as some brand new apartment blocks that have just recently been built, all situated on the waterfront.

Flawd is a natural wine bar with a side focus on modern deli cuisine that’s run by five close friends, working together as a collective. They began their journey together under the title “Higher Ground,” which was a pop-up restaurant paired with a strictly natural wine list, which bounced through different locations as a pop-up in 2020 and 2021. The team earned their plaudits the hard way by going out and proving themselves, producing some of the finest, cutting-edge British cuisine in Manchester.

Now they’ve rolled out a new version of the project under the name “Flawd”, and settled in on the marina. The space is charming, home to frequent events, and has quickly become an essential part of the Manchester natural wine scene.

Flawd is located at 9 Keepers Quay, Manchester. Follow them on Instagram.

Idle Hands Coffee

Idle Hands Coffee in the Northern Quarter of Manchester is one of the true hidden gems of the city. It’s mainly a coffee shop by trade, featuring some of the most stunning vegan cakes, pastries, and pies Manchester has to offer, but it’s also home to a tight collection bottles of top quality natural wine from all over the world.

The selection here quite obviously reflects a genuine passion and interest in wine culture, and makes for a ready interplay between the shop’s vegan ethos and a connection to natural wine. I think it’s genius, in fact—the coffee/bottle shop model is a thing of the future and for me, Idle Hands have absolutely nailed it.

Idle Hands Coffee is located at 35 Dale St, Manchester. Visit their official website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Batch Deli

Batch Deli is a newcomer to the natural wine scene in Manchester, and technically, their location would be considered as Cheshire but it’s only a 25-minute metro journey out of Manchester city centre. As an establishment that sells natural wine they’ve got a lot to offer.

Opened in March 2020—just days before the pandemic lockdown went into full effect—Batch are really hitting their stride in recent months. This is an extension of the Batch Bottlestore concept, and feels like a Sopranos/Satriales-inspired classic deli, albeit with excellent wines. Come here for a broad range of Pét-Nats, from Austrian rosés to South African hazy whites. Needless to mention Tillingham, one of England’s leading natural wine producers. All of this goes beautifully with one of Batch’s meat and cheese boards.

Batch Deli is located at Unit 5, Kings Court, Railway St, Altrincham. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

With there being so many different natural wine bars and shops across Manchester these days, my recommendation would be to go see and try a glass of wine in each of these establishments with an open mind, well… maybe not all on the same day, unless you can handle 8/9+ glasses of wine in one sitting. To my point though go and decide for yourself which bar or shop you fancy the most—and have fun!

Eoghan Neburagho is a freelance journalist based in Manchester. This is Eoghan Neburagho’s first feature for Sprudge.