There are few modern-day phenomena as impressive as the rise of the Wine Bar. Almost unheard of before the eighties, they swaggered onto our social scene alongside the much-maligned image of the yuppy of the time. The mocking continued, with everyone’s favourite man about town, Delboy Trotter, setting himself up as Peckham's answer to Gordon Gecko and temporarily giving up the Nag's Head for a trendy wine bar; it seemed that we Brits just wouldn’t take this particular Americanism seriously.
Fast forward thirty years and the idea of going for a night out to a bar that doesn’t offer a choice of wines seems unthinkable. As our culinary palates changed to adopt a never-ending smorgasbord of international flavours, so too did our appreciation of a good Malbec or oaky chardonnay. Gone are the snobbish overtones and puffed-up pomp, and in its place is an altogether more pastime. “Let’s meet for a glass of wine?” is almost certainly the perfect prelude to many an enjoyable night on the town!
As the demand has grown, so too has the choice and nowadays most good bars will offer an extensive list of quality wine by the glass. Indeed, many will now have their own wine merchant rather than picking up a case of what’s on offer at the cash and carry, and as well as guaranteeing something for everyone, it has also created a new generation of hospitality staff who are knowledgeable enough to know their Pinot Noir from their pink plonk.
In fact, long-established Perth city centre restaurant, 63 Tay Street, became one of only three national winners to be awarded the AA award for Notable Wine List. Chosen from over one thousand entries, a spokesperson for the awards commented:
“Each year we choose three national winners of the AA Wine Award who hold a diverse list of high-quality wines. We look for a range of grapes and/or countries and styles, as well as wines from the best individual growers and vintages. 63 Tay Street has shown a real passion for wine and offers a fair pricing policy and interesting coverage so you can be assured of a choice of the very best wines to complement your award-winning meal.”
It’s not just the restaurants who are on board though; Perth’s first stand-alone Wine Café opened last year to much applause and venues such as Parklands offer an visiting a recognised restaurant like 63 Tay Street is a great way to learn about pairing wine with food impressive choice of wines by the glass, served up in a relaxed, stylish atmosphere. And while visiting a recognised restaurant like 63 Tay Street is a great way to learn about pairing wine with food – their manager Lukas is only too happy to enlighten you – deciding what to order at the bar can still be a bit of a guessing game for your average Joe. It’s all very well nodding wisely and sticking your nose over the brim to look like you know what you’re doing, but how do you hold your own when presented with the growing choice of grapes, vineyards, regions and growers?
Follow our guide to enjoying a night out on the wine!
Be Adventurous! So you “always drink a chenin blanc” but that’s no reason to keep drinking a chenin blanc! Ask your bartender for some advice and try something different. Order the zinfandel instead of the cabernet sauvignon or the sauvignon blanc instead of a chardonnay.
Ask for a taste. All good restaurants and bars will be happy to let you taste a mouthful. But please, choose a couple of varieties you think you’ll like rather than asking for a go of everything on the menu! And do please tip your wonderful bartender before you go!
Know your units. A typical glass of wine is now 175ml and around 13.5% ABV. This is a whopping 2.5 units which means you should have no more than six glasses a week according to guidelines (GULP). If you’re like us and enjoy a few over the limit on a night out, make sure you drink water in between glasses and order a few of those tasty tapas to soak up as you go.
Wine Stops in Perth City Centre
Grayson's Wine Café – Kinnoull Street, Perth
The Venue – St John’s Street, Perth
The Bothy Wee Bar – Mill Street, Perth
Parklands Hotel – Leonards Bank, Perth
63 Tay Street - Tay Street Perth
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