The New Irish Wine Bar
“I think we might finally be at the point where the wine bar's time has come” reckons Eamon Barrett, who scouts the exciting new destinations around the country for both the RAI and Gold Medal awards, in addition to his long-standing gig with McKennas’ Guides.
“With Beach House opening a Wine Bar in Dublin shortly it offers that tantalising concept of really tasty food being accessible as an accompaniment to some great wine. Also, as we've become more mature diners, our sophistication in terms of the wine adventure is maturing with it. No more Sauv Blanc unless it's from an obscure New Zealand boutique winery! Yes, I will have a glass of that Gruner Veltliner.”
In the new Irish Wine Bars, we are already saying yes to the Gruner.
Of course, great bottles and good food in a smashing room has long been a thing. Pathbreakers such as Ely in Dublin, the much-missed Tartare in Galway and Kinsale’s The Black Pig have been pouring the good juice and serving ace plates of food, echoing the international template carved out by vinous superstars such as London’s Noble Rot.
But recently the template has been tilted, as wine bars move towards idiosyncratic lists of drinks, selections that are very personal whilst also being very professionally constructed and dispensed.
As the list has shifted, so has the menu. Diners appear to want an eclectic choice, rather than a didactic dinner decided by someone else. If you want to start with the cheese selection, or only have the cheese selection, or finish with the cheese selection, then it’s your call.
To consider yourself a wine bar you might be content to serve the traditional staples of gildas, smoked almonds, good olives and snappy cheese and charcuterie platters. But the new Irish Wine Bars now offer small plates that are creatively cutting edge in style, using the informal freedom of the wine bar concept to offer cooking that is often more challenging and exciting than found in many restaurants.
The holy grail is the ideal match of the wine and the food, with meals offering provocative tastes and surprising drinks, plate after plate, glass after glass. This is a good, fun way to drink, and to eat - and the Wine Bar’s time has come.
See below for all the rooms in which to find the good plates and glasses:
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