Friday night in chilly and grey Paris. It’s raining with a hint of snow; the darkness has fallen as a heavy curtain. Perfect time for a cocooning at home with a cosy blanket and a good movie or… going out to a wine bar (bar de vins) with a friend. Tonight the latter is on my schedule and I can’t wait.
I like the wine bars because the time you spend there is slow (like the slow food concept in a good restaurant). There is nowhere to hurry and there are some rituals to respect. First, you choose the wine (the color, the region, the body (for the reds lighter as Bourgogne or Loire or more full body like Languedoc or Bordeaux, for the whites you choose more or less dry, fruity or mineral).
To choose you can go by your feeling, knowledge or preference for a region, ask for an advice or just choose the bottle with the look you like – everything is allowed. The bottle arrives, you taste the wine of your choice and nod to the waiter your approval. Finally comes the platter of food you have chosen to complete the wine. Everything is set and the slow time can start flowing, around a good conversation.
This time spending is quite French, without being necessarily Parisian. Big cities such as Lyon, Bordeaux (of course!), Marseille etc. offer lots of choice and smaller towns and even villages have some hidden authentic gems. Yet, Paris defends pretty well its status of the capital. It has a multicity of the wine bars, from “touristic basics”, offering some very classic wine selection and platters of cheese and sausages without any hint of originality, to the places, where the wine is the matter of passion and everything that goes with it (food platters, decorum and service) reflect this attitude. Obviously, our selection goes to this second type. Here we go.
1/ Ebeniste du vin
Situated in the Batignolles area of the 17th district (not quite touristic, yet cute and rather central – close to the Arc de Triomphe), this wine bar is the former shop of a wooden furniture craftsman.
The style, with wood and stones, was fully preserved and reinterpreted in a dynamic and creative way by a young team. The decoration is simple and with a good taste; you even have some books to read.
The huge advantage of the place is its downstairs cellar with a vaulted ceiling. It’s very cosy and can be privatized for an event (minimum consumption required). On the food and drinks side (as this is what we come for ;)), a large selection of bottles (over 800 references!), with prices for the bar consumption and take away (about half price), nicely disposed at the entry. You can take your time to look around, and someone is always there to help.
The food platters to accompany your choice are fresh and original : veggies with a sauce (for those who are on diet, as the wine doesn’t count ;), a large selection of quality hams and sausages, a fish & sea products platter (tested and approved by us) and of course an exquisite selection of cheeses.
For the sweet tooth gourmets there are also deserts (the cheese cake is excellent!) We say, all ingredients for a successful evening are united.
Where : 76 Rue Boursault 75017
Our wine choice : Saint-Joseph (Côtes du Rhône) round and full body, a sure value.
Easy to find in the heart of the bubbling Sentier district, known mostly for its textile shops, where Parisian Jews made their fortune in the 80s, here is another great address. Nice and trendy decoration with frequent art expositions at the walls, several classic tables, low tables and club armchairs and an area where wine jars are used as high tables – perfect if you reserve for a drink with a big group of friends – is pumped up by a friendly and professional team lead by a duo of friends.
Here you can taste the wine before making up your mind, even if you take just a glass. Here you can share platters of cheeses or hams, veggies or smoked salmon and even of deserts. Here you can buy wines and the fine food selection of small French producers – things you will not find in the supermarkets.
You will not come here for the calm and sophistication, but for a contagious good mood that will make you feel like home, stay for hours and taste all the wines you can. If you live in Paris, you will come to this bar more than once and if you don’t, it will be on your list when you come back.
Where: 5, Rue Poissonnière 75002
Great news: the second Ivress has opened its doors in the Bourse district (5-7 Rue du Croissant), close to the 3rd bar of our selection.
Our wine choice: Mas du Novi Prestigi 2012 (Languedoc). This wine domain produces fabulous wines that you can find at the expo Vignerons Indépendants (see the article France in a wine glass).
3/ Les Gouttes de Dieu
Situated in the spectacular 9th district, close to Opera and the Bourse, here is another gem of the French savoir vivre. We arrived without reservation and had a chance to get 2 chairs at the bar stand. In this first room the atmosphere is dense (they have 2 or three long and high tables, always full) and slightly crazy, due to the extraverted character of the bar tender, the proximity with your neighbor – it feels like a place where you can spontaneously meet someone and end up drinking and talking until the middle of the night – and the magic of the wine, of course!
Over 500 references are presented and omnipresent, as they are used as the decoration of the walls of the second room, with a more romantic and quaint atmosphere (candles on the table and everything). If you prefer other alcohols than wine, you will not be deceived with over 100 varieties proposed. On the food side, you have a choice between “real” restaurant dishes – some French classics with a modern interpretation: escargots (snails), foie gras, beef tartar, salmon gravlax, etc, a chic touch with caviar, as well as platters to share (antipasti, les rillettes (a sort of meat or fish spread etc.).
The deserts are also honored, we didn’t taste any, but chocolate cake with grey salt from Guerande looked quite appealing! To conclude, in this central district of Paris, classic, traditional and slightly cold, les Gouttes de dieu is a place with a soul and an irresistible charm where wine and champagne are kings … or Gods.
Where : 8 Rue Rossini 75009
Our wine choice : Californian Syrah (French purists would say it’s a treachery, but God knows it was good 😉
Reservations are recommended (for Ebeniste du vin possible only starting from 10 people).
…Friday night or any other night in Paris, and whatever the weather is, if you feel like discovering the sense of the expression in vino veritas (the truth is in the wine), you know now where to go.
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