Here is the Japanese-most wine bar of Paris. In Tokyo itself, the bars are usually hidden inside ordinary-looking buildings, often btw at an upper story outside of which you may remember seeing Japanese inscriptions near signs like 3F, 5F or 8F, but of course if you don't read Japanese you'll stay clueless of the nature of these venues, and many of the drinking spots are thus out of reach for the unsuspecting Westerners. Plus many bars in Tokyo are quasi-clubs and you don't walk in like that if you're not introduced by someone beforehand. The Vinos wine bar can samely be easily passed-by without noticing its presence : While roughly located in the Jananese district of Paris, its black curtains are often drawn and the bar doesn't precisely capitilize in the French bistrot- ot terrace culture. But it would be a mistake to make your opinion on these first-glance appearances : the Japanese are very keen when it comes to fine wines, and the wine selection at Vinos is one of the most serious one of the French capital (even if it comes at a higher price per glass).
Take your most humble attitude and be ready for an experience which is a strange mix of full Japanese immersion and of fine-wine tasting. If not the typical french experience that you might expect for your next Paris visit, it is one where you will have at the same time a taste of Japan and sample a selection of solid-value French wines.
The Japanese expats even have several free newspapers in Paris to help them in the travails of adapting to our alien culture and to the daily problems of French life. The page above is reproduced from one of them, Bonzour, and you may recognize the most well-known symbols of the French culinary : wine, baguette and camenbert...The paper is full of tips to find an appartment, to find some work, informations about the diverse cultural events of Paris or even on how to mary a frenchman (the woman on top). Another one is Bisou (isn't it a cute name?) and some stories are in French, like this beautiful story about a French-Japanese family living a happy life in Japan, in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, in the Island of Shikoku...Ovni is another one, complete with a forum and a blog...
You can sit either at one of the tables or along the low wooden counter-bar which is deep enough to accommodate your plates and glasses. There is a flat screen hanging up on the wall at one end of the bar with shows going on sometimes, like one time we went there [pic on left] last year, it was Roman Holiday, the 1953 movie with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. The interior design is sober and modern with velvet-black being the main color for the walls and seats. The place is relitavely dim lit, but not as much as some bars in Tokyo.
For licence reasons you must pick a plate in the menu to go with your glass. The wine list :
9 wines by the glass (the selection changes very often), beginning with a Champagne Drappier at 12 Euro, 3 whites (Côtes du Rhône Beaucastel 2006 at 12 Euro, Meursault Pierre Matrot 2004 at 13 Euro, Mercurey François d'Allaines at 9 Euro), and 5 reds ( Syrah Pierre Gaillard 2005 at 7 Euro, Languedoc Domaine de l'Hortus 2006 at 8 euro, Chinon philippe Alliet 2006 at 9 Euro, Bordeaux Chateau Peuy-Sancrit 2002 at 8 Euro, Crozes-Hermitage Laurent Combier 2006 at 7 Euro). A bit over the usual prices found in other Paris wine bars but a good selection of wines, and not so expensive for a trip to Japan... The bottle selection is large and is Burgundy-centered : about 35 white Burgundies (most between 40 & 140 Euro) and 40 red Burgundies (most priced between 90-something & 530 Euro), with in the upper-tier for the whites for example a Corton Charlemagne Domaine Coche Dury 1998 at 1225 Euro, and for the reds a Romanée Conti-Romanée Conti 1996 at 6500 Euro...
The other wines include a couple of Languedoc and about 20 Bordeaux wines from the best Appellations, Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Margaux, Pomerol, Saint-Julien...In our last visit we had the white Mercurey by d'Allaines (B.), a rich, aromatic Chardonnay with butterscotch notes, and the Chinon by Alliet (me), which was very long to open and showed some reduction on the nose, but had a well-structured mouth that I liked.
The food consists of plates, entrées (beginning with a salad at 5 Euro, and others like Saumon Fumé & Blinis Maison, or Millefeuille de Betteraves au Comté, at 10 Euro) and dishes like Magret de Canard, Beef Stew, or Faux-Filet Limousin (Desnoyer) at 15 or 20 Euro. There is also a "Menu Tapas" at 20 Euro (Assiette Canapés + 6 Snails + Cheese Plate).