If you are a foodie and traveling to Russia, wine and cheese restaurants and bars in Moscow is most probably what you are looking for. Moscow Food Tour fills you in on the Russian culinary roots and traditions. Wine crawling can be a fun way to knock out some major sightseeing from a new perspective and in a very authentic setting.
Wine and Cheese in Russia
Today we talk about the history of wine and cheese in Russia, as well as best recommendations for wine and cheese restaurants in Moscow.
History of cheese in Russia
Russia is not the country which you’d associate with cheese and wine. In the USSR cheese was not a product which you could get in any market. There were mainly brands of soft processed Soviet cheese like «Druzhba», or «Kostromskoy» or famous salty Georgian cheese «Suluguni», which is still served in Georgian restaurants in Russia. But only few people had an idea about what world-famous Italian or French cheeses were like. Mozzarella, Cheddar, Brie, Parmesan – all these words were not familiar to the Soviet people.
Cheese situation in modern Russia
Only starting from 2000-s these sorts of cheese came into life of Russians, but the price was quite high so few could afford it. And although today you can easily find everything (yes, some particular brands are not sold in Russia due to the sanctions), many Russian people still prefer to buy domestic cheese that they are used to. If you want to get an international cheese plate with a bottle of an imported wine, you should go to the wine bar or wine restaurant, and this European style of drinking and eating out is becoming more and more popular, wine and cheese restaurants and bars in Moscow and Saint Petersburg are booming.
History of wine in Russia
Talking about wine… in the Soviet Russia you could only get only those kinds of wine which were made in Soviet republics. The most popular wine was «portwein», which was very strong. The main republics where it was produced were the ones with mild warm climate such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia.
Cabernet Sauvignon or Massandra?
White wine was less popular and you could find it most often in Kirgizia, whereas for the best dessert wine you would go to the Crimea (this region is still famous for its vineyards). So, winemaking in Russia had been prospering before it even became possible to import the world-famous western wine from France, Spain and Italy. Today they supplanted domestic brands and the modern generation is more familiar with the name «Cabernet Sauvignon» rather than «Massandra» which is a famous Crimean wine brand.
Wine and Cheese Restaurants and Bars in Moscow
Be prepared for a big diversity in wine. In Moscow you can find a lot of wine places and national restaurants aka French cafes with tiny tables and French songs playing all day long. The price policy of such places is normally democratic and all the cafes from the list (and wine sorts) have been tried by our guides, and here’s what our Moscow guide (and wine connoisseur) Dasha recommends:
- Jean – Jacques (Жан Жак). Yes, the name sounds «too French», however I consider this chain one of the best among wine bars. There are 8 cafes in Moscow and 1 in St. Petersburg. For some reason, it is especially popular among journalists (maybe because one of the cafes is right next to the House of Journalist in Moscow on Nikitsky Bulvar). You can come here either alone or with friends, and it is also a good place for a date on Thursday evening when it features live. It’s always cozy here.
- Vinniy bazar (Винный Базар). The word «wine» in Russian sounds like «vino», so the name of this bar means «Wine bazaar» or «Wine market». Of all wine and cheese restaurants and bars in Moscow Vinniy Bazaar is our favorite. Did you know that when you taste wine you will learn as much about wine as you will learn about yourself? Every week Vinniy Bazaar gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself sampling five or six wines. You will learn to read the label on the bottle, evaluate the age of the drink by its color, and identify the grape variety of the drink by its aroma. This would quite a memorable experience (together with authentic Russian experiences – banya, vodka and tea drinking).
Established in 2014, Vinniy Bazaar quickly became a trend-setter. The restaurant is not only about wine and cheese – slow down to take in a variety of unusual desserts like cheesecakes with salmon or éclair filled with fish mousse (yes, I saw it with my own eyes). If you want something more original than just a cheese plate, you know the right place!
- Khleb I Vino (Хлеб&Вино). «Bread&Wine» – that is what these weird letters mean J The chain of self-service wine bars by famous Russian media figure. One of the places in Moscow where you can get tapas (not exactly THOSE tapas you tried in Spain, but still pretty good) and wines from all over the world. Just think of the country you want to make a wine-trip to, come to the right shelf and grab a bottle.
- Prostye veschi (Простые Вещи) or «Simple things» is another wine restaurant loved by locals. With 60 types of wine it’s hard not to love the place. It even has its own wine school and an impressive cocktail cart. Try out the taste of Gewürztraminer, Nerello Mascalese and Albariño; try three different types of sauvignons; and get to know the difference between Merlot and Cabernet. Would be a nice place for aperitif or a glass of wine with freshly-baked bread served with olive oil which is complimentary here.
- Khachapuri (Хачапури). When in Moscow, you will be surprised by the total absence of Chinese, Indian or even Kebab places, but instead you will see Georgian cafes almost everywhere. Georgian wine was very popular in the USSR and remains so nowadays. If you order a cheese plate in any Georgian place, be ready to get very salty cheese which the taste more like a beer snack (but actually it is not). And, of course, don`t miss a chance to try a famous khachapuri – a traditional Georgian cheesy cake.
This swanky Georgian restaurant’s menu will mpress you with traditional Georgian beverages: coffee brewed on sand, Chacha (grape vodka), Tarkhun (a refreshing Georgian soft drink made with homegrown tarragon), Izabella grape juice and Matzoni, a famous milk-based drink from the Caucasus.
Just don’t mix coffee, milk, wine and vodka all at once and you’ll surely enjoy Georgian cuisine.
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