Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants

Polly Checkland Harding
Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants
Creative Tourist

This curiously named wine shop in Manchester’s medieval quarter takes a sociable approach to drinking.

The story behind Manchester’s Hanging Ditch can be told in two ways. In one version, this cobbled street running alongside the Cathedral was once a trench where medieval cloth makers hung out their linen. In another, more apocryphal, version it was a place where sinners, instead of sheets, were hung out to dry. Whatever the historic truth, there’s little chance of staying dry today, at least in the alcoholic sense: nearby Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants has a supply of bottles extensive enough to lead many a customer astray.

Choosing wine can be intimidating when a shop’s stock is large and your credit card, if not your neck, is on the line. Ranging from around ten pounds to several hundred, Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants has a daunting collection. Seen through the wide front window of the shop, the bottle-stacked shelves run floor to ceiling and all the way along the back wall. The assortment also includes some more esoteric options, such as Portuguese Orange wine (a white that is made, unusually, with the inclusion of the grape skins). Enough rope to hang yourself with, you might think.

Your credit card, if not your neck, is on the line

But Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants’ website states that it “aims to take the fear factor out of wine”, while Managing Director Ben Stephenson has arranged the wines by style rather than country, thereby offering customers a lifeline. Stephenson explains that the system tries to “answer people’s questions on the shelves”. His argument is that dividing wine up geographically isn’t a helpful reflection of the buyer’s requirements. The idea is that this layout doesn’t demand extensive knowledge in order to successfully navigate it.

That said, Stephenson is reluctant to provide the tasting notes that can offer sanctuary when you can’t recall the distinction between a Rioja and a Rueda. When the sheer number of variables – grape, region, producer, vintage – unfold before you like a slippery slope into perdition, indications of a wine’s flavour can offer a welcome foothold. As an alternative, Stephenson encourages detailed conversation with his well-versed staff.

This is just one of the ways that Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants approaches wine as an accessible, social drink: expanding the usual remit for such a shop, buyers can also enjoy their purchases on the premises. The shop is a pleasant space in which to share a bottle or try wines by the glass (£6-£7.50). High stools are spread along the front windows, with chairs and tables arranged outside for the summer.

Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants refuses to present its specialist knowledge in a cloistered or excluding way. So, whatever the accurate explanation behind Manchester’s Hanging Ditch, the calibre of the wine shop that takes its name can be relied upon.

42 Victoria StreetManchesterM3 1ST View map
Telephone: 0161 823 8222 Visit Now

Admission Charges

Free

Services and Facilities

Wine shop, bar

Venue permanently closed.

What's on near Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants

An image of author Marianne Brooker stood in front of green fauna, wearing glasses, smiling and looking up away from camera.
LiteratureCity Centre
Marianne Brooker at House of Books & Friends

Marianne Brooker will be at House of Books & Friends to discuss her new book, Intervals, published by Fitzcarraldo and longlisted for the inaugural Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction.

from £5.00

Where to go near Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants

Proper Tea Cathedral Quarter Mancheste
Cathedral Quarter
Café or Coffee Shop
Proper Tea

Proper Tea sits opposite Manchester Cathedral, serving up artisanal teas (with instructions on how long to leave them brewing), sandwiches, soups and excellent cake.

Harvey Nichols
City Centre
Shop
Harvey Nichols Manchester

Harvey Nichols department store showcases a range of designer brands; be guided to the perfect outfit (or wardrobe) by a style concierge. The second floor brasserie is rather good.

Manchester
Restaurant
The Cosy Club

Elegant and welcoming restaurant and bar in the Corn Exchange, with an attractive domed ceiling and plenty of original features like the staircase and tiles.

Cathedral Quarter
Restaurant
Mowgli Street food Manchester

The Manchester branch of Mowgli, set up originally in Liverpool by celebrity YouTuber, cookbook writer and curry evangelist Nisha Katona. Mowgli brings authentic Indian street food to Manchester’s Corn Exchange.

Manchester
Restaurant
Döner Haus

This authentic Berlin kebab and bier haus is the latest addition to the ever-growing Corn Exchange food family.

Manchester District Guides

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.