To navigate the dizzying variety of bars, Russia Beyond presents some of the best places to imbibe red, white, rose or sparkling.
Enjoying a glass of good wine paired with a delicious dish used to be the prerogative of wealthier members of Russian society. Luckily, in recent years “democratically-priced” wine establishments have been shattering this notion, and the intimate (with only nine tables) Classica Bar is the best example of this trend. Tucked away on the corner of the bustling Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, Classica is a little oasis of fine wine (more than 70 varieties, with bottles starting at $20) and it comes with a Mediterranean style food menu. The focus is not on big wine brands but rather on the optimal price to quality ratio, and a large assortment from a wide variety of wine-making nations.
Where: 1-aya Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, 2/1
It’s certainly no sin to boast a collection of more than 300 wines, 60 of which can be ordered by the glass! Sinners & Beginners has the inviting vibe of a wine lovers living room and cellar. The interior is both funky and low key, while the patrons are a colorful mix of moms with their kids, business folk and young fashionistas. The brand chef is Italy’s Vincenzo Dilillo, meaning the menu is filled with all manners of carpaccio, bruschettas, pizzas, cheese, meat and veggie platters and dips. Wine-wise, you should try the trendy orange wine – or whatever else the staff might recommend.
Where: Petrovka Street, 23/10 building 5
This stylish neighborhood wine bar (5 minutes walk from Kurskaya metro station) surprises the first time visitor with a pleasant house red and white for $3 per glass, and $4 for a house sparkling. There are two wine menus to cater to the different types of wine imbibers. The first is divided into clearly marked sections with rather detailed explanations - for those who are not yet experts but are rather curious. The second is a several-page leaflet with nothing but the name, year and price. All together, you’ll find more than 200 wines on offer here. Of course, you’ll also find the fashionable orange, vegan and biodynamic here. In terms of food, the menu caters to virtually any taste (there are salads, soups and fish, meat, vegetarian and vegan options). And the best is that on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays Bigati Bar is open till 3:00 a.m.
Where: Zemlyanoy Val ¼, building 1
Translated from Russian as “circus”, the name of this wine bar may be an ode to the Nikulin Moscow Circus that’s just around the corner – or it may just be an allusion to the ‘show’ that begins once the wine hits the brain. Tsirk is a bit hidden in the pereulki (alley ways) but it’s worth the effort to find it. The interior is laconic, almost Scandinavian, and the crowd is very artsy. There is no wine menu, but the knowledgeable waitresses are always on hand to advise you on what’s in stock; the average price for a bottle is about $30. Foodwise, Tsirk is aimed more at having a proper meal with generous-sized starters and hearty mains. On weekdays, slip out of the office and enjoy their business lunch deal ($6 for two courses, $8 for three courses) with a glass of wine for just $4).
Where: Tsvetnoy Boulevard, 20/1
Having firmly established themselves as one of the key authorities on wine in St. Petersburg, the people at Big Wine Freaks brought this wildly popular bar to Moscow at the end of 2017. Old World charm meets New World cool in this New York City loft-style interior. Biodynamic wines, craft champagnes and rare positions are the name of the game here, but if you want to play it safe and stick to something reliable there’s a great selection of wines from Europe and the New World (some available by the glass, starting from $7). The menu mostly consists of snacks suitable for wine drinking. A few heartier mains are on offer, too. In the evenings a DJ takes to the decks to make the joint even hipper.
Where: Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street, 62/3
Prosecco Bar is the bubbly baby of Italian chef Luigi La Sala and is as close as you’ll get to a traditional Venetian “bacaro” here in Moscow. The interior is simple and laconic in order not to distract from the wine and the company. Almost half of the wine menu consists of – surprise, surprise – prosecco. But if you’re no fan of bubbles, there are plenty of reds and whites, including biodynamic types, and the bar menu also has spirits and several types of spritzes. The food menu consists of perfect nibbles for wine (bruschettas, salads, tartares, prosciuttos and cheese), as well as heartier dishes such as soups, pastas and risottos. The average check comes to about $12-15 – not a big price to pay to enjoy classical aperitivo culture in the Russian capital.
Where: Sretenka Street, 7
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