Decent off licences are almost a thing of the past now you can get a spectrum of drinkable/specialist booze in supermarkets, but Oxford still has a few. Some of them will loan glasses for a party free if you buy the drinks there. It's worth an ask.
According to Wikipedia, an off licence is an establishment licensed to sell alcohol which will be drunk off the premises, whereas pubs and bars are licensed to sell alcohol at the point of sale (an "on-licence"). This article has some interesting info about the history of pubs, off licences, wine and Anglo-French diplomacy.
35 South Parade, OX2 7JN. Map. Tel 01865 661749
Open: Mon - Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 9am-3.30pm
North Oxford’s independent wine specialist has made its home on South Parade. Truly independent, and stocked with love by two young wine aficionados, it's a wine-lover's paradise. With regular tastings and over 400 bottles to explore, you could easily lose yourself for an afternoon just looking...
The Grog Shop
13 Kingston Road, OX2 6EF. Map. Tel 01865 557088
Open: Mon - Sat 7am-11pm, Sun 9am-10.30pm
Once splendid independent off-licence now less splendid, and with more of a 'supermarket' range. Free glass loan and delivery service within town boundaries, we think.
Oxford Off Licence & Groceries
48 St Clements, OX4 1AG. Map. Tel 01865 726065
Open: 7am-11pm daily
May look like a newsagents, but don't be fooled! They sell six different kinds of Absinthe.
Oxford Wine Café (formerly Summertown Wine Café)
38 South Parade, Summertown, OX2 7JN. Map. Tel 01865 558800
Open: Mon-Fri 8.30am-11pm, Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-10pm.
Unusual and pleasing venture: a bar where you can sample 12 different wines for £5, and buy cases of whatever takes your fancy at very decent prices.
17 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4AG. Map. Tel 01865 201205
Open: Daily 7am-11pm
Relatively new to the Oxford off-licence scene, Tim's offer a wide range of refrigerated booze as well as a wide range of beers, wine, cider, ale, spirits and mixers. They also stock an exciting range of specialist tobacco products, including cigars. They're also on Facebook and Twitter!
And further afield...
43 Mill Street, Eynsham, Witney, OX29 4JX. Map
Tel 01865 884405 / email@example.com
Open Mon-Wed 10am-9pm, Thu-Sat 10am–10pm, Sun 11am–9pm.
Paul, a reader of Daily Info, recommends Eynsham Cellars: An independent place run by two knowledgeable and friendly guys called Oli and Iain. They stock about 400 different wines and 60 bottled ales, plus cigars and snacks. As well as regular small tasting sessions on Saturday afternoons, if you sign up for their email bulletins or follow them on Twitter you should get invitations to free evening tastings (well worth the effort, as often up to a dozen wines are available and they are quite generous with the top-ups).
The Wine Warehouse, Witney Road, Standlake OX29 7PR. Map. Tel 01865 301144
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-7pm
Serious wine warehouse with helpful and extremely well-qualified staff. Bulk purchase, fine wines, tastings, free glass hire, internet ordering. Follow them on Twitter for more info.
7 Little Clarendon Street, OX1 2HP. Map. Tel 01865 558838
Mon-Thu 10.30am-9pm, Fri & Sat 10.30am-10pm, Sun 12-8pm
Once Oxford's main quality wine shop chain, known for their expertise (the Little Clarendon Street having its own dedicated fine wine department) and the wide variety and high quality of their wares, the chain went into administration in 2011 leaving only one store open in 2012. Their High St branch once sold more Pimms than any other single outlet in the world. Sigh.
Majestic Wine Warehouse
Unit 5, 379 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 2BS. Map. Tel 01865 716959
Unit 1, 280 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7ED. Map. Tel 01865 292987
Open: Mon-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu & Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm
Wine megastore of almost Calais-like proportions. Easy parking. Free glass loan (deposit required) and helpful, knowledgeable staff.
6 Cherwell Drive, Marston, Oxford OX3 0LY. Map. Tel 01865 744043
Open: Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri & Sat 10am-10pm, Sun noon-10pm. Seasonal variation likely
More standard multibooze. Free glass hire if you buy your wine there.
The Whisky Shop
7 Turl Street, OX1 3DQ. Map. Tel 01865 202 279
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-4pm
Not a traditional off licence as such, but a specialist emporium selling Scotch, Irish and global whisky including that Japanese stuff that everybody raves about. Good for gifts.
Is your local offie missing? Do let us know and we'll add it here.
Click here to see 24-hour alcohol outlets in Oxfordshire (thanks Tom, October 2011) on a useful map.