Our answer to this important question involves a cheese platter, eight varieties of wine, and a cheeky martini. For this is a story about the joys of living practically next door to a wine bar …
Boasting a cocktail bar, events suite, and four guest rooms, The Wine House 1821 has plenty of scope for entertaining on a grand scale. Though if in search of just a quiet drink, followed by quite few more, than their wine bar is a perfect choice.
The atmosphere is sophisticated, but relaxed. At its centre, the only feature wall we’ve admired since the nineties – for it houses a wonderfully tempting library of wine – selling more than 30 by the glass, and 100 by the bottle.
We immediately ordered a bottle of the Ca’ Bolani Pinot Bianco 2014. Light, fresh, with notes of peach and crisp apple, we say three cheers for its balanced acidity.
But as we perused the snacks menu, we wondered out loud what to drink next. Fortunately Steven, who was running the bar this night, immediately asked if we had any interest in an impromptu wine tasting.
We imagined a burst of the hallelujah chorus – hallelujah, hallelujah – and gave our young host a resounding: YES PLEASE!!!
So while he chose six of his favourite wines, we devoured a delicious bowl of Cerignola olives, along with a fabulous Mixed Crostini Misti with eggplant, goat’s cheese, pomodorini tomato & basil.
Hot on its heels came an Antipasto combo platter – with a selection of hams, salamis, grilled vegetables, and cheeses lovingly drizzled with honey.
Every bite is sheer loveliness, and the portion size generous to say the least. So much so, we wondered if we’d ordered too much. Needless to say, this soon turned out to a false alarm.
Beer is made by man, wine by god.
Steven’s first selection was the Calasole Vermentino 2016 [ Rocca di Montemassi ]. With hints of spice and a sharp citrus finish, we’re told this robust white wine goes incredibly well with cured meats.
And as we stuffed even more of the salami ventricina into our large mouths, we found ourselves in complete agreement.
Just a few sips later, Steven delivered our next tipple: the Casal Farneto Veridicchio 2016. Now this really is a delight. Amongst its citrus flavours, one’s palette is treated to the unlikely taste of cream.
Offering a serious wow factor, it’s a wine we’d like to know better. But with barely enough time to pair this cheeky beverage with a slice of taleggio, already another glass was being poured by our host.
From Santa Maria La Palma, comes the Aragosta 2015. Made so close to the sea, it actually tastes of salt – in a good way. And as the lobster on the label suggests, it’s the perfect accompaniment for shellfish.
It’s also pretty fabulous with cheese, as a bite of grana padano complete with balsamic glaze will soon tell you. The more we drank, the more we thought: my god, how f**king fabulous is this??
What chance does logic have against a glass of wine?
By this point, we had eight glasses of wine on the table. The couple next to us looked over, and casually asked if we have a drinking problem.
As visitors from Belgium, we assured them this is perfectly normal behaviour in Scotland, and explained we were only just getting started. After all, there were still three glasses of red to try.
Kicking off with the Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014 [ Maison Antoine Geoffroy ] – it’s a rich, full-bodied wine with an intense nose of strawberries & raspberries. It’s also smooth and silky to the taste, boasting one very long finish.
In other words, it’s absolutely stunning. It’s also convinced these Social Bitches to drink a LOT more red wine from now on. Speaking of which …
We were soon also enjoying the Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 [ Castello di Albola ] with its notes of almond, tobacco, toasted wood and exotic spices. Another wonderful and sophisticated drop, obviously Steven can do no wrong
And for his finale: two glasses of the Zonin Valpolicela Ripasso 2015. Full bodied, with black cherry, clove and white pepper alongside its polished tannins, this too is an absolutely stunning wine.
Pair with beef, pork, or perhaps a generous serving of chorizo, and we guarantee a feeling of bliss will ensue. But even more astounding is its price tag, only £24 a bottle.
With great alcohol, comes great irresponsibility.
While the wine tasting was officially over, Steven quite rightly sensed our insatiable thirst, and suggested … a glass of prosecco.
A collective gasp was heard throughout the bar, followed by the sound of tumbleweeds. The couple from Belgium looked nervous. Given the Social Bitches are renowned for their champagne tastes, this was a bold move on Steven’s part.
But while many proseccos are far too sweet, especially the mass-produced stuff, Zonin make a seriously good drop. Paying it the ultimate compliment, we even insisted on having a second glass.
But realising there’s a fine line between food review and alcoholism, we decided to call it a night. Mind you, somehow our slightly slurry attempt at “thank you and goodbye,” sounded more like “yes, we’d LOVE a cocktail!”
This innocent mistake lead to perhaps an even greater discovery – the Tiramisu Martini. OH MY GOD! With three liqueurs – coffee, dark chocolate, and chocolate cream – plus mascarpone, the taste is incredible.
Oh yes, we are officially BIG fans of living practically next door to a wine bar.
In a pre-theatre nutshell:
Edinburgh Playhouse 2 minute walk
Wine / Snacks / Cocktails
Wine from £4 a glass / Snacks £3 – £ 11 / Platters for 2 £18 – £20
The Wine House 1821
4 Picardy Place
0131 557 1821