Moscow wine bars (Vinnii Bar or ВИННЫЙ БАР in Russian) aren’t easy to find but there are a few which are worth a visit. The Russian capital keeps improving its choice of wines with a growing appetite for quality products. This comes with a price though, as this city is known as being one of the most expensive of the world and because import fees and distributor margins augment considerably the price of wines.
Svetlana Lomsadze is the young sommeliére at Dissident, a prominent wine bar in Moscow. She speaks good French and I could chat with her about this wine venue and also about her recent visits to the French wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, some of them she made on bicycle, stopping along at the Domaines and tasting the wines between cycling bouts. Asked how winery people there in France reacted to a [beautiful] Russian wine sommelière knocking at their door, she said they didn’t show particular surprise and were happy to exchange with her about the wines.
But Dissident has more than quality wines and a beautiful and expert sommelière [which would already make it] to offer : as its name may suggest, it has some particular relation with the heart of the late soviet system and its intelligence apparatus.
Whatever, look at this view on the picture above : can any other wine bar in Moscow offer a more thrilling setting ? Frankly I don’t think.
Once inside, you see a cosy restaurant room with large windows overlooking the Lubyanskaya Ploshchad. Just seat and ask for the wine menu, or look to the blackboard with the good deals of the day. When we dropped there a few weeks ago, there was a Saga Rotshild for 385 Rbs (100 Roubles make about 2,5 €), a Bourgogne for 370 Rbs, a Baglio del Sole for 320 Rbs and a Monte do Palmeiro for 320 Rbs.
Dissident opened 6 years ago, not long after the Nautilus shopping center facing the Lubyanka was inaugurated.
Asked about the number of wines available by the glass, Svetlana says that the whole of the 200 references can be ordered by the glass. When a bottle has been opened and is not finished, she’ll advise the next customers to order this wine if they haven’t a precise wish, and this method goes smoothly without bottles remaining unfinished for a long time. The price of the glass is also lowered when they want a bottle to be finished. The wine menu is a book with many prestigious wines along more affordable ones. Svetlana has made a great job in her selection, with for example a Dagueneau Blanc Fumé which costs here 5000 Rbs for a bottle / 1000 for a glass, and a Dagueneau Pouilly Fumé Pur sang for 618O a bottle / 1250 a glass. She is holding a bottle of Dagueneau on the picture with the wine cabinet/fridge.
I finished not long before I began this Russian trip a book written by Yevgenia Guinsburg, a woman who was deported in the late 30s in the eastern-Russia Kolyma region until well after WW2 and this book (Journey into the whirlwind - Крутой маршрут in Russian) is a poignant testimony of what so many people lived during the Stalin years (many never made it to the end). This resilient woman symbolises well the Russian people's miraculous survival during those many years.