From chic to cheap, Expats.cz goes looking for the grapes
“Wine is bottled poetry,” said Robert Louis Stevenson. For those who enjoy a nice glass, perhaps with some cheese and definitely with friends there are a variety of wine bars all over pivo-obsessed Prague. Czech wines have been coming in to their own in recent years, and a specialty wine bar is definitely the place to try some of the better ones. Most also have a decent selection of imports, so no matter your or your companions tastes, a vinárny is a great place to relax and let the good wine and conversation flow. Here’s a portion of some of the hundreds of wine bars scattered across the city; please share your favorite with us below!
Bandol (www.hotelcernyslon.cz, Tynska 1) is located in the brick-covered basement of Hotel Černý slon. Named after a town in southwest France, you can sip from an international mix of French, Brazilian, Czech and other wines. U Zavoje (Havelska 25) is a great, centrally located wine bar with more than 500 bottles on offer. Included in this “complex” are a restaurant, cigar shop, cheese shop, delicatessen and café. Their sommeliers know their stuff and there are lots of by the glass options.
Bresto (www.bresto.cz, Štěpánská 31) looks tiny from the street, but the space expands back into a large bright and modern restaurant. Wines here lean heavily towards European vintages, with a few from Argentina, Chile and New Zealand. Monarch Wine Bar (www.monarch.cz, Na Perštýně 15) is often mentioned as a favorite when asking around for good wine bar suggestions. They offer regular wine tastings, an excellent selection, knowledgeable staff, and some nice cheese. If you are young and hip and don’t mind smoke, U Sudu (www.usudu.cz, Vodičkova 10) is for you. Lots of curving stairs and secret rooms, make the atmosphere often better than the wine. For an intimate tasting of Moravian wines, try Vinotéka u Vavrysů (www.vinotekauvavrysu.cz, V Kotcích 10, 12).
Vinoteka Ujzed (www.vinnyujezd.cz, Újezd 19) is too cute! All underground and brick-y, it’s a nice spot in Malá Strana for a quiet tasting. Good wine list with lots of variety and a range of prices from affordable to not as much. It shares its underground space with PopPetalCafe Music Club. There’s not a lot of defined space between the two venues, so you will hear whatever music is being played that night.
Not a bad thing; but maybe not so romantic…A bit down the road you can try a glass or two at The Wine Bar (www.thewinebar.cz, Tržiště 14). Red lovers will want to take note as their červené list includes choices from the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Italy and Chile. Unfortunately, most of the by the glass menu is from the Czech Republic. They also offer degustation evenings; check their website for upcoming dates and wines.
Bokovka (www.bokovka.com, Pštrossova 8) is another “always recommended.” Translated as “Sideways” after the popular California wine movie a few years back, it was started by a group of wine lovers, who also happened to be well-known Czech actors and such. European wines, plus offerings from Moravia dominate the wine card. Reservations are usually essential. Divinis (www.divinis.cz, Týnská 21) is for those looking for a stylish place and a glass of something from Italy. They have an intense all Italian wine list that’s separated by region so you can go straight for your fav from Piemonte or Puglia. Bring some friends; it’s cheaper by the bottle here. Moravský archiv vín (www.moravskyarchivvin.cz, Navrátilova 11) is a bright open space with a small garden and emphasis on Moravian wines. Another stylish and intimate place can be found at the U Černé Hvězdy hotel. Head downstairs to the Alla Stella Nera Wine Bar, (www.ucernehvezdy.cz, Seminářská 6).
Cellarius (www.cellarius.cz, Budečská 29, also Štěpánská 61) offers more than 1300 wines from around the world in their two locations. While tastings can be had at both, the Štěpánská location is more shop, with the Budečská location more restaurant style, complete with the cozy cellar look and a bonus outside garden. Just down the street is the decidedly unpretentious Vínečko 33 (Budečská 40, 222 252 288). No wine snobs here (nor should be brought here) but for a neighborly glass with lots of locals and a great back garden, it’s a fun evening. Wine Biss (www.winebiss.cz, Šafaříkova 11) was a newcomer for me. The interior is modern, with wine bottles precariously perched on the walls. Non-smoking, they offer a nice variety from the Czech Republic, Austria, France, Spain and Chile.
Viniční Altán (www.vinicni-altan.cz Havlíčkovy sady 1369) is best visited in the warmer months so you can sit outside and admire the Gröbovka vineyards surrounding you and the lovely cityscape of Nusle in the distance. Service is quite brusque and it is difficult to get an outdoor seat, but the space saves it. The interior is cozy; snuggled up under the hill. Wines are nearly all Czech, with an obvious emphasis on ones from the Gröbovka vineyards. Speaking of Nusle, down the hill from I.P. Pavlova is the unassuming Bacco (www.bacco.cz, Bělehradská 28). A lovely “Renaissance” style interior surrounds you as you sit and enjoy vintages from Italy and the Czech Republic. Nearby is Vínečko (www.vineckopraha.cz, Londýnská 29, but the door’s on Bruselska) an extremely popular neighborhood joint. Reservations are almost certainly a must. Summer sees both a front terrace and back garden open up. The staff is attentive and helpful; the wine list changes occasionally and offers mostly Czech choices, with many bottle options from South America.
We just like the name of this one: Full Bottles (www.fullbottles.cz, Štítného 35) is a sleek and stylish place for cool people with a large international selection of vintages. Up the road from Jiřího z Poděbrad metro is Sudička (www.sudicka.cz, Nitranská 7), another small, cellar space but with a friendly staff and affordable wines from the Czech Republic, Australia and South America. Make a reservation if you really want to go. French wine and cheese lovers should hit Le Caveau (www.broz-d.cz, Husinecká 3) for a wide selection of both.
At Vinarna u Mikuláše Dačického (www.umikulasedacickeho.cz, Victora Huga) you’ll find a small selection from a variety of vineyards: Czech Republic, Italy, Chile, Austria, etc. The dinner menu is Czech heavy and the interior is wood-paneled, dark and red. Zlatý had (www.zlatyhad.cz, Plaská 4) ranked in the Grand restaurant guide as one of the country’s top 100 restaurants. Their vinárna stocks a wide range of international wines and has a smoking and non-smoking section.
Near the Břevnov Monastery you will find Vinotéka U sv. Vincenta (www.vinom.eu, Liborova 13) a tiny place with about 20 by the glass wines on offer, plus a much larger selection of bottles. Non-smoking and with a small wine snacks menu, it’s a quiet choice. Vinom is also an online wine distributor with a selection of international wines to buy. The super small (five tables, maybe?) Dejvický vinný sklípek (Kafkova 14, 603 535 654) is a winner, thanks to its great staff who happily chose our wine for us.
Located near Stromovka Park is U vzducholodě (http://vinnybaruvzducholode.o1.cz, Šmeralova 16). Small and functional, you’ll get good prices on wines from the Czech Republic, Austria, Macedonia and Slovakia. Don’t let the bizarre white “ship” hanging from the ceiling disturb you. Mainly Czech wines, with some from California, France, Argentina and others thrown in, Vinárna u Počtů (www.upoctu.cz, Milady Horákové 47) has a serviceable space inside and a small outdoor courtyard area in the summer.
What else? If you are looking to get out and explore, try some degustation events. This website (Czech only) has a very detailed calendar and there’s a connected website as well: www.jizni-svah.cz, again Czech only. Like mentioned above, this is really only a small sampling, wine bars can be found all over town. To conduct some research into the offerings of your neighborhood, do a search on Firmy and put “vinárny praha 1” into the field. You’ll get many places that don’t have a websites, which are quite numerous. Prague Wine Week celebrates Czech wine and is usually held annually in mid-January. And finally, to learn something about the ever-improving Czech wines, check the official Wine of the Czech Republic pages.
To wrap things up, we end with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” Because this is simply a small introduction to the myriad of wine bars in Prague, please make us all happy by sharing your good taste and recommending your favorite wine bars!