Vagabond Wines is targeting people intimidated by traditional fine wine shops with its cellar of 100 wines, merchandised by style, not country.
"We have created Vagabond Wines because there was definitely a gap in the market between fine wine retailers which can be a bit intimidating and supermarkets, which are great for price, but tend to stock mass-produced and uninteresting wines," said MD and founder Stephen Finch.
The Fulham store uses bottle sampling machines to offer 35ml sample sizes of its wines, each priced at 50p, no matter the actual rsp of the wine. Vagabond would lose a "bit of money" on some of its more expensive bottles, admitted Finch, but said he was not looking to make money from the samples.
"It's just crazy that in this day and age customers should have to part with a good sum of money on a bottle of wine without knowing what it is they are buying. That's why we're allowing people to taste 100% of our red, white and rosé wines before they buy," he said.
Half of Vagabond's wines are priced between £10 to £15, with 25% under £10 and 25% above £15.
However, the retailer was targeting "everyone and anyone" keen to experiment, insisted Finch.
The concept of sampling before buying is already practised by The Sampler wine merchant in Islington, North London, which opened four years ago. In The Sampler, consumers can taste 80 of its 1,500 wines at any one time. Samples cost between 28p and £70, depending on the cost of the bottle, and wines are merchandised by grape variety.
"We were the first store to sample wine on a retail basis in the UK when we opened in 2006," said MD Jamie Hutchinson. For people intimidated by wine it gives them the option to try without the obligation of buying, he added.
The Sampler will open a second store in South Kensington next month.