Trieste is a wine lover’s paradise
Hotel Major in Trieste shares the inside scoop on where to go in this archetypal border city in the far northeast of Italy.
Trieste, that little Vienna on the Adriatic Sea, 130 kilometres east of Venice and incorporated by a thread inside Italian borders, may not be the first Italian town that comes to mind for a wine tour.
It does, however, have something to offer the wine enthusiast visiting this strange corner of Northern Italy, given its closeness to several renowned wine areas and the pleasure-loving mentality of its inhabitants.
For your aperitivo
Piazza Unità d’Italia, a wide plaza with lovely structures overlooking the sea, is the town’s pride and delight.
Caffè Tommaseo, located not far from the square in the much smaller Piazza Tommaseo, is by far the best wine bar in town. Trieste, like Vienna, is above all a town of cafés and fancy bars from the early twentieth century, imbued with a Belle Epoque atmosphere and vaguely resembling a Downton Abbey set. Most are victims of the Prosecco fever that is ruining the world’s wine offer, and while they may not be the first place to look for fine wines, there is still something good to be found here and there.
Although the selection of wines by the glass is limited, bottles at Caffè Tommaseo are carefully selected and stored and are always freshly opened, ensuring that the tasting experience is never disappointing. The staff is more knowledgeable about wine than the average person and can help you make a decision based on your preferences. This café also has a fine fish restaurant, as well as a larger selection of wines by the bottle. It also functions as a wine store.
Gran Malabar is a much more laid-back establishment, a stereotypical Italian bar with friendly-yet-relaxed service. It’s in Piazza San Giovanni, a little plaza slightly east of the church of Sant’Antonio Nuovo. Despite its outward appearance, it is the place to go to sample local wines and, for example, compare them to those made elsewhere from the same grape varieties. It serves dozens of wines by the glass from a variety of regions.
This is the place to go if you’re still having trouble convincing your new boyfriend of the difference between good quality Pinot Grigio from Friuli and Pinot Gris from Alsace. You can also enjoy more grey tones with some Sivi Pinot Noir from Slovenia.
Enoteca di Vino in Vino
Enoteca di Vino in Vino, on the other hand, is a small wine bar in a side street off the beaten path, despite being in the city center and close to the prose theatre. It is located in via Fabio e Aurelio Nordio, off the busier viale XX Settembre, which is a rather unappealing tree-lined mini-boulevard with cheap fashion shops, ethnic and fast-food restaurants, local eateries, and food stands. This enoteca is just around the corner and is extremely quiet, but it is well-stocked with fine local wines as well as some from abroad, primarily from Northern Italy and France. It’s in Piazza San Giovanni, a little plaza slightly east of the church of Sant’Antonio Nuovo.
If you want to compare Pinot Noir from Venezia Giulia, Alsace, and Burgundy, or try zero-dosage sparkling wines from various kinds and locales, this is the place to go (including Grand Cru Champagne). It is a hybrid, as it is both a cosy bistrot with a small selection of Italian fine foods and a wine shop where you can purchase bottles to take away at lower prices.
Bar X is, in essence, a modern bar where you can have an espresso or a quick business lunch, located on the crossroads of via Coroneo and via Palestrina, close to the town’s courthouse and off the tourist trail but still in the city center. However, wine is its specialty. It has a nice selection of locally produced bottles as well as various sparkling wines by the glass. Its staff is friendly and knowledgeable, probably more so than in comparable establishments.
Grab a souvenir – After that, you’ll want to have something to remember your trip by.
Some of the aforementioned establishments also sell wine for takeout. Caffè Tommaseo, as previously said, provides a good selection of bottles from local producers, as well as bottles from other important Italian (and French) wine areas. Enoteca di Vino in Vino, on the other hand, is a well-stocked wine shop where you can buy local wines at reasonable costs.
Enoteca Bischoff, in via Mazzini, is a kind of town institution: local wine lovers come here to find not-so-common, high-quality wines, while novices and even teetotallers choose this shop, the former to take their first steps in the world of wine while remaining safe, and the latter to receive good advice when they have to give a bottle of wine (or spirit) and be sure of choosing something appropriate. It is owned by the same family that owns Caffè Tommaseo and has provided great wines to the community for decades.