Eye On London: The Cutting Edge

Called “a wine shop like no other” by the Telegraph and a “temple of fine wine” by the Wall Street Journal, Hedonism Wines truly stands alone even in a city awash in the best wines the world has to offer. Stocking 4,500 wines and 1,500 spirits across two sprawling floors, the store’s welcoming design and passionate staff demystify wine while accomplishing what the stereotypical stuffy fine wine retailer has never really managed to do: made the process of finding the right wine enjoyable. With wines starting at around US$24 and spiraling upward from there well into the thousands of dollars, it’s difficult to say that Hedonism has “something for everybody,” but it most certainly has something for every wine and spirits aficionado who truly cares about what he or she puts in a glass. The surroundings, however, are less about “opulence” and more about a design aesthetic you’ve never seen before in a wine store. A trademark lighting installation features suspended Riedel glasses, while the chilly downstairs section (staff provides customers with warm throw blankets) features a moving vine sculpture that seems to have leapt out of the 1986 film “Labyrinth.”

While design is key to Hedonism’s image, make no mistake — the wine is the star of the show. A wall of Chateau d’Yquem vintages spanning centuries, illuminated by backlight, ranges in hue from burnt honey to pure gold, while basement cells feature full verticals of some of the world’s best wines. One of the most impressive, the “Mouton” room, contains a bottle of every vintage of Château Mouton-Rothschild from 1945 to 2004. Another basement room features hand-made sculptures emerging from the brick walls to cradle rare bottles of Sine Qua Non. Wine lovers looking for a little less than a double magnum of Chateau Lafite can sip wines by the glass from the store’s Enoteca machine, enjoying an unusual mix of music from the dedicated record player. (Customers can peruse and play the store’s selection of LPs. The soundtrack during our trip included Joy Division.)

Considering their demand for the world’s best wines to stock new collections, we expect that Hedonism will see its fair share of China’s burgeoning wine lovers. Luckily for these shoppers, Hedonism’s polyglot staff — which speaks around 15 languages among them — is among the best suited in London to cater to this demographic.