There was a time when the wine bar was king. Unfortunately this was in the mid-eighties and early nineties, before bright blue stick drinks and tooth dissolving cocktails of the era killed pretty much anything born in this dark and excessively spandexed period. Thankfully time is forgiving and the wine bar has now returned stronger and more enticing than ever.
However there are two distinct types of wine bar. First there are those that are described as such simply because that’s how they’re marketed, or to round out a hotel’s F&B offerings – a conversation that probably went something like this… “Hey what we need is a wine bar, lets call it Grape and give it barrel chairs and heaps of up-lighting and we’ll make a killing. What do you mean what about the wine? We’ll figure that out later.”
Fortunately there’s also the other side of the coin; fun, smart and alluring venues that earn their name by the passion of their owners, the skill of their sommeliers and the quality of their wine list – a few great value items, a few trending items and some that touch on the vast array of known and emerging wine styles from the very best region’s producing them.
So to get you started and in no particular order, here’s The Tasting Class list of five great wine bars in Dubai.
Set on a rooftop with gorgeous views of the Burj al Arab, particularly at sunset, this pet project from the head wine guru at Jumeirah hotels has cosy corners and a wine list that changes weekly, packed with surprising finds and up and coming wines.
This unpretentious and funky place in the heart of DIFC has a wide range of wines by the glass, bottle or carafe, as well as Vinomatic open-bottle-preservation machines that offer perfect pours of some truly outstanding drops. As if that’s not enough there’s also a 2-for-1 happy hour on every wine – glass or bottle – Sunday to Wednesday from 6-7pm.
Marina Social – The Social Room
Whilst primarily a restaurant, this fantastic spot also has a bar you can visit without reservation, and, as you’d expect from a venue part owned by a sommelier that cut his teeth in that perpetual exporter of wine trends – London, the list is well rounded, exciting and varied.
While it specialises in Argentine wines, this hot spot for all things carnivore also has an outstanding wine list featuring bottles that are exclusively available at this venue in the UAE. Plus as South American wines generally offer great value, this saving has been passed on to the diner, so you can have a decent bottle and a wonderful meal and still be smiling when the check comes.
One of the few venues that’s marketed as a ‘wine bar’ and lives up to the name, Cave consists of a tasting room, and, you guessed it, a wine cave, featuring an extensive collection of sommelier selected bottles. As their other speciality is cheese and charcuterie it’s the perfect spot to combine a great wine with a decadent platter in a cosy atmosphere that’s worthy of both.
Words by The Tasting Class – Providers of fun and interactive wine & beer education in the UAE. Join one of their public tastings or book a group wine tasting at home for 150 AED per person (T&C’s apply).