Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

While on a trip to Ireland with my mom (and about two dozen other folks) we toured around via bus. The itinerary was flexible enough that I got to explore on my own. So I used a few pockets of time to check out two Dublin wine bars. (Thanks to Lauren Mowery for the intel.)

Loose Canon Wine & Cheese / Photo via Loose Cannon FB Page

A Duo of Dublin Wine Bars

Loose Canon Wine & Cheese

Spot number one was Loose Canon. Ok, it’s a cheese shop. But I’m calling it a dang wine bar, sue me! During the day, they sell cheese and bottles. At night, they pour a few select reds and whites and one skin contact wine. It’s standing room only and you can also (of course) order some cheese and cured meats. They focus on natural wines.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to VisitMy first visit was at night right before closing, so I had time for one glass. I went for the 2016 Testalonga El Bandito Cortez, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Cool label, huh?

But I had a sad face because I didn’t get to sample any food. So next time I came back earlier in the evening for three of my favorite food groups: meat, cheese, bread. (Bonus: fruit!).

How about some toast, cheese, plums, olive oil drizzle? Yes, please. I accompanied the dish with a glass of Ottavo Bianco from Piedmont in Italy, perfect pairing.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

The coppa came on a separate plate, and I refrained from eating it all until I could get a glass of red.

[SIDEBAR: These are very nice plates, I wish I could have taken them home. But I left them behind, like a law-abiding, non-awful human being. Of course, I could have asked where I might purchase such fine and finely-hued dishes.]

My patience was rewarded with a glass of Fins Als Kullions, a chilled red (and white) blend from Penedès, Spain. This is an ideal wine with cured meats.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Take Me To Your Liter

And you know I love me a 1L bottle.

But like a glass of wine, when it comes to Dublin wine bars sometimes one is just not enough. So I also checked out the ultra-charming Piglet.

It was on my list, but I actually went there because on my first visit to Loose Cano, they weren’t serving wine yet. So I asked the person working there where I should go. Did I mind walking? Of course not. Head to Piglet, she said.

I strolled on, embracing a new adventure.

Piglet Wine Bar

I love tiny bars! Piglet has a nice patio, but I migrated to the inside where there are maybe a half-dozen bar stools. Head upstairs for very cozy table seating that makes you feel like all the cares of the outside world are a light year or two away.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Pull up a chair. / Photo via Piglet’s website

Piglet has a really great by-the-glass list. And the bottle selection is excellent, too. There are plenty of magnums to choose from for your party-starting needs. The food looks incredible but, alas, I was in recent post-lunch mode. But, hey, let’s try some wine.

Chateau Dereszla Tokaji Dry 2016

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to VisitI was so grateful for the sweater weather in Ireland after some extremely oppressive days/weeks/month of soul-crushing heat/humidity in New York. Cooler temps also means time for richer white wines, and the Chateau Dereszla did not disappoint.

It’s a blend of Furmint (85%), Muskotály (5%) , Kabar (3%), and Hárslevelű (7%). Fifteen percent of the wine spends time in oak barrels.

I then shifted gears to a fantastic Austrian red.

Arndorfer Vorgeschmack Red 2016

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to VisitThe Arndorfer is a blend of 80% Zweigelt 20% Pinot Noir. It’s got a touch of smoke, a few virtual grinds of black pepper, and a blackberry-esque finish.

A great all-purpose red, I don’t think there is any food that wouldn’t love being next to it. They would be swiping right on each other, etc. Austrian red wines are very underrated. Highly recommend exploring Zweigelt as a starting point.

Ooh, I almost forgot to show you the inside. Let’s take a look, ok?

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Tiny bars forever. / “Pigture” via Piglet’s website

So while Guinness and Jameson (the whiskey, not me!) may be foremost on your mind, don’t forget to visit a few Dublin wine bars. I’ve just scratched the surface but you can’t go wrong with either of these memorable spots.

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A conversation with Press Club’s Aram Roubanian


Aram Roubinian is the thirty year old assistant GM and beverage manager for Press Club, the hot, stylish wine bar and lounge on Yerba Buena Lane, tucked between Market Street and Yerba Buena Gardens. I asked Aram, who’s been there for five years, to tell me a little about Press Club.

Aram: Right after we opened, in 2009, the economy tanked. Trying times. The original concept was, we had contracts with different wineries—Miner, Chateau Montelena, Mount Eden, Hanna, Saintsbury and Fritz—with each occupying a different space. But it became apparent that wasn’t viable, so now, we showcase California wine, as well as Old World wines that inspired the wine renaissance in California, like classic Burgundy and Bordeaux. We also offer crafts beers and small plates.

SH: How would you describe your clientele?

AR: I’d say a Financial District crowd, mostly female, but professionals both men and women, and lots of corporate events, a nice range. I’d say the average age range is 30-40, but we do have some more mature clientele.

SH: What’s the customer’s sweet spot, price-wise?

AR: By the glass, $12-$14, and for bottles, $60-$80.

SH: What’s selling well?

AR: Whatever Sauvignon Blanc we have just flies off the shelf–doesn’t matter if it’s winter or summer. Our Pinot Noirs are very popular and, surprisingly, price point doesn’t matter. Our clientele likes premium Pinots and popular price points as well. Right now, our most popular Pinot is Stoller, from Dundee Hills, which is right in the middle, pricewise ($18 – $82). I’m also seeing a spike in Spanish wine; Tempranillo is very trendy. But the hottest trend going is Prosecco.

SH: What’s not hot now, compared to when you first came?

AR: Chardonnay is losing traction, especially the oaky style.

SH: Why do you think that is?

AR: I think it’s a little bit of what happened to Merlot after Sideways: a lot of people began to bash it–the media and, these days, everyone has Facebook, twitter, and a lot of people get their info from peers, as opposed to only from the media, so I think of it as a whole collective, people were influencing each other. People call it “cougar juice,” the big buttery oaky Chards. It has this connotation that old women drink it.

SH: Kiss of death!

AR: Yes, right, especially for the female clientele, they don’t want to be perceived as older, out of touch. And also, with our younger clientele, they don’t want to drink domestic wines. Which is scary for the domestic market.

SH: Again, why is that?

AR: It’s a rebel without a cause, the hipsters; this generation wants to go back to more of the old world wines. But I feel like that too will change in time, and people will discover there’s wonderful wine everywhere.

SH: Where do you see the Millennials going in the future?

AR: I see a move towards more natural winemaking–that’s on everyone’s mind. Not a wine that’s necessarily certified organic or biodynamic, but a more natural process, with less pesticides, sustainable, and people are conscious about the environment, global warming, I see more solar power being used. People want to know what they’re consuming. These days, there’s a lot of fillers in wine, and people are becoming more aware that wine can be easily manipulated. Ridge lists all the ingredients. I like that; I like the transparency there. But overall, I see people becoming a more self-sophisticated wine consumer. They realize, while they may have enjoyed consuming that buttery chardonnay and it was pleasure to the palate, they found out with a more delicate, balanced wine they could find more nuances and actually enjoy it more.

SH: Thank you Aram!