On the hunt for something special to wet your palate? There are some unique finds, whether you prefer red, white, or even “green” wine in Eastern Europe. Contributing writer Rachel Weil discovered wine bars and wineries in Istanbul, Budapest, Slovenia, and Croatia.
The Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul, which is located in the city’s business district, has a carefully selected collection of Turkish wines. You can grab a bite to eat and try one of the local wines in its stylish lounge adjacent to the hotel lobby. Unwinding at BarAdoX is easy…the cozy outdoor patio has floor-to-ceiling glass windows surrounded by greenery. The décor inside is sleek and spare, with a high ceiling and a mix of modern and contemporary elements.
The all-day bar and lounge has a large beverage selection and tasty snack menu. The BarAdoX burger is recommended with the Doluca 2011 Sarafin Merlot. This is a rich, complex wine with lingering fruit flavors and a velvety smooth finish. Just next door to the lounge, you’ll find yourself at Mövenpick’s Gourmet Shop surrounded by an assortment of chocolate desserts, including cheesecakes and world-famous ice cream. Whatever you choose, chocolate is another great addition to red wine.
Two other must-have wines at Mövenpick are from Turkey’s leading wine producer, Kavaklidere. The 2010 Pendore Öküzgözü is a dry red wine with red forest fruit flavors and strong floral notes. You should also try the 2009 Prestige Kalecik Karasi, a dry elegant red wine bursting with intense flavors of red and white fruits. Homemade pastas created by Executive Chef Giovanni Terracciano (at the hotel’s AzzuR Restaurant) pair well with these wines.
If you’re visiting the Hungarian capital of Budapest, check out DiVino. Opened in May 2011, the trendy hotspot (located near the Basilica) is both a wine shop and bar, carrying only Hungarian wines by winemakers under the age of 35. The space is long and narrow, and what immediately captures your attention is the blackboard behind the bar that includes graffiti-type art and a handwritten list of available wines.
By day, a sommelier is on hand to assist you with your wine choices, and at night DiVino becomes a popular hangout with no room to spare–inside the bar and out. With more than 150 Hungarian wines, all of which are rare and from small batch lots, DiVino employees are quick to make recommendations, such as the Szent Tamás 2011 Percze Furmint. This dry complex white has white fruit flavors and pairs well with DiVino’s Mozzarella Tower Arugula appetizer.
Divino even has an accredited wine school of the London WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust),” Manager András Egyed explains.FIX THIS “We organize wine courses where participants get an official WSET qualification.”
Anyone in the “trade” or those who are simply wine enthusiasts can take the WSET to gain a formal qualification or enhance their knowledge of wine. Participants will learn basic wine styles, wine and food pairings, wine tasting practice, as well as information on Hungarian wine regions and grape varieties.
Slovenia & Croatia
Slovenia and Croatia have some lesser-known but high quality wines, and tasting the various varieties with an array of cheeses will add to the experience. One Slovenian standout is the Vinakras 2010 Sparkling Teran, a full-bodied sparkling red with a nose of forest fruits and a touch of sweetness to the palate. Another one to try is a Pullus 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, a tropical, fruit-forward white wine with a floral nose and peppery notes.
Croatian winery Enjingi has taken a more modern approach, producing only certified organic wines. Their 2009 Welschriesling is an exotic, complex, and crisp white blend with a subtle floral nose and a lingering finish. Another of its noteworthy wines is the 2007 Zweigelt, a red variety unique for its late November harvest. The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels. This is a dry, rich, and expressive red that is complex and silky smooth.
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By Rachel Weil for PeterGreenberg.com