The Grape Escape
Atmos 8 / 10
Grape Escape This might just be Cheltenham’s best wine bar…
The Longer Read The Grape Escape is an independent wine bar (and retailer) offering wine, plus some carefully chosen beers, ciders and spirits. But mainly wine.
For a wine bar to be truly great, it must offer variety, quality, expertise, and something salty to eat with Muscadet. In every one of these categories, The Grape Escape excels. The core idea is to offer a new list of wines by the glass on a weekly basis, with (usually) five reds, five whites, 1 rosé, and 3 sparkling wines. Reds and whites are £5 to £9 a glass, and always exciting. As well as this there are fine wines by the glass, utilising a Coravin, a needle which extracts wine through the cork of the bottle without compromising what’s left inside. These range from the revered Northern Rhone wines of Guigal, to a fantastic selection of Californian gems. Wines are also available in flights of 5 x 50ml (£15), and served blind. Trying to match up what’s in your glass with the tasting notes is a great way to learn more and improve your palate. The Grape Escape can be quiet mid-week, but weekends bring a friendly mix of customers into the bar. Local restaurateurs are spotted here from time to time (always a good sign) and this is a place for wine lovers, not gaggles of Prosecco swiggers.
The food covers the basics of wine accompaniment: crisps, olives, and nuts, but also pâté, charcuterie, excellent biltong, and cheese. The cheese list is updated almost as regularly as the wines, and includes a great variety from CheeseWorks on Regent Street. In the past, the wine bar has run evenings where customers have been able to order in from nearby (good) outlets such as RealBurger or Simpsons fish and chips, to go with specially chosen wines.
There are thousands of wines that can take over our minds. Don’t think all ecstasies are the same! – Rumi
The couple who run The Grape Escape are passionate and knowledgeable about wine, but not wine snobs. They’ll win you over by sheer force of personality – whilst playing great music all night. OK, if sugary Pinot Blush is your thing you might struggle but, otherwise, the best approach is to ask for suggestions based on what you normally drink. They’ll sort you out with something good. Simply put, there’s nowhere better to drink wine in this town.