When one thinks of a wine bar, the first words that come to mind may be fine dining, expensive wines, and a bit of a snobbish atmosphere. But ‘Vinoteca’ breaks all those perceptions through the convergence of a relaxed ambience, authentic Spanish food, and a host of fine domestic wines from Sula and their international portfolio.
The slick exterior with seating area and warm interior with comfortable couches are accentuated by showcases of Sula Wines and a long wine bar running its entire length. The warmly lit bar on 1600 square feet has burgundy coloured walls and wooden flooring, and is divided into two sections- al fresco and indoors. The focal point inside is an interesting light installation made using Sula’s Empty Riesling wine bottles and candle bulbs.
But it’s the extensive wine list that is the star here, with wine suggestions alongside the food menu. Says Cecilia Oldne, Head of International Business at Sula Vineyards , the hostess for this special lunch, “We are not only serving Sula wines, but also from all over the world; wineries that we feel very strongly about Apart from wines, we serve two wine-based cocktails as well.” These include the signature cocktail of Spain-Sangria, made from with sparkling wine with seasonal fruits.
While most wine restaurants the world over boast of a fine dining experience, Vinoteca has deliberately confined its food menu to authentic Spanish Tapas and Pintxos (Pinchos), as Tapas made on skewers are known in the beautiful Basque country known for Michelin starred restaurants. This is a first for Mumbai, all specially designed from home made recipes by Chef Sylvia Grimaldo from Spain, who was known to Rajeev for many years. “Except for the Pork and Spanish ham imported from Spain,” she explains, “an extra effort has been made to source fresh local seasonal produce as well as organic ingredients from Sula’s own estate gardens,” she explains.
Apart from wine dinners, tastings and events, Vinoteca goes a step ahead to address the growing educational impulse of wine consumers. Sula recently became an authorized provider of the credible WSET wine courses from the UK and soon plans to open Vinoteca doors to wine education by offering level 1 and 2 of this certification.
In today’s world of marketing, glitz, and publicity, Sula has decided to stay away from any type of advertising at all. “We have made an effort and kept our menu moderately priced for the quality,” explains Cecilia. “We’re looking to attract both wine and food lovers for which we feel that word-of mouth publicity works the best.”
Sula’s strategy seems to be in the right direction and Vinoteca which had formally opened a couple of days earlier, has been seeing a packed house in its opening week itself.
Apart from the delicious authentic Spanish Tapas and Pintxos, also on the menu are gelato ice-creams and chocolates, both wine-based. The lemon based Sorbet infused with Sula Sauvignon Blanc should give a lot of ideas to wine lovers. Sula tied up with Fantasie Chocolates to create both sweet and spicy tasty wine chocolates, and with Amore’s Yaseer Ali for specially created exquisite wine based ice-creams, both available only at Vinoteca.
Ironically, Sula has ventured to open the wine bar in Worli, on the same stretch where Ivy Bar was opened as the first wine bar of Mumbai by the erstwhile leading wine producer Indage Vintners many years ago.
Such a complete wining and dining experience comes at a price. But at Vinoteca the wines and food are served in a very informal atmosphere where one would want to linger from the bar to the couches, encouraging casual conversations. The wine-food pairings have been suggested to the customers to make them feel comfortable while ordering. Wine is available by-the-glass or the bottle and if you love sparkling wine, you have a wide choice from Sula Brut to Piper-Heidsieck champagne distributed by them or even Dom Perignon.
It’s this combination of a healthy, authentic, and affordable menu with a casual social atmosphere that makes a visit to Vinoteca a unique wine experience!
Rishi Vohra CWS