Wine has played an important role in the world. It has been involved in ceremony, tradition and celebration since the beginning of recorded history — and even before that. With Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans spreading wine grapes throughout Europe and beyond, it’s not a surprise that they would create places specifically to imbibe these libations.
Check out this list of some of the world’s oldest wine bars, dedicated to the enjoyment of this tipple of the gods. Make your travel plans now!
Al Brindisi – Ferrara, Italy
This is considered by Guinness World Records to be the oldest enoteca in the world, believed to have been built in 1435. For a restaurant with a remarkable history and that can show off astronomer Copernicus, Titian, and Benvenuto Cellini as clients, the location is modest in its décor — bare wooden tables, dusty wine bottles and bench seating.
To be in good Renaissance company, drink a fine Port wine or sample authentic Ferrarese fare, be sure to stop by this wine bar located just southeast of the Duomo.
- Enoteca Al Brindisi
- Via Guglielmo degli Adelardi, 11
- 44121 Ferrara
Antica Bottega del Vino – Verona, Italy
This is an osteria with a long history and an impressive number of domestic and international national wine labels. Founded in 1890, Bottega del Vina boasts more than 3,000 wines, hearty Veronese cuisine, and first-rate wine experts. Once an inn thought to have been built in the sixteenth century, this renowned restaurant and bar has hosted wine-loving artists and politicians as patrons for over a century.
If you’re in the home of Romeo & Juliet, the Bottega del Vino is an absolute must-visit – if not for the famous Amarone wine, then for the historical books, photos and documents.
- Vicolo Scudo di Francia 3, 37121 Verona
Gordon’s – London, UK
Gordon’s has been a family run business since 1890 when Angus Gordon, one of the last ‘free vintners,’ (a person who could sell wine without applying for a license) set up shop in West London. The building itself has been around since at least the 1680s and since then has been used as a home, a warehouse and most recently (just about 125 years ago!) the place where Rudyard Kipling lived and wrote The Light That Failed.
The dusty bottles in the window add the charm of what looks like a Victorian shop on the outside. Once indoors, you’ll be led to a cool grotto to sip from their extensive list of wines. Try their very own Fat Bastard 100% Chardonnay wine – you won’t be disappointed.
- 47 Villiers St, WC2N 6NE London
Réserve de Quasimodo – Paris, France
This wine shop and eatery located on an old-world side street on Ile de la Cité is often overshadowed by the nearby Notre Dame cathedral. However, Réserve de Quasimodo deserves a little attention too – they serve affordable and authentic French food expertly paired with vintner-supplied wines – and just happen to be the oldest wine bar in Paris.
Apparently a tavern opened here as early as 1240, but photos show that the location was a wine bar by 1869. Current owners Nathalie and Christian can suggest wines to accompany your meals in their back room or patio, or you can walk in, grab a bottle and sip it on the Seine with a nice picnic.
- 4 Rue de la Colombe, 75004 Paris
Zur Traube – Hamburg, Germany
Tucked away in old Ottensen, the stone of this bar was laid in 1880, and in 1899 it began operating as a wine shop. In 1919, renowned wood sculptor Otto Wessel developed the wood paneling over 6 years to complete and the owners commissioned the gorgeous ceiling artwork for its opening as the first wine bar in Hamburg.
Zur Traube has a selection of 250 French and German wines, which are served alongside French dishes. Candlelight and jazz music will definitely put you in the mood for a sophisticated tipple. Sit outside on the patio for a beautiful view of the river Elbe – a perfect setting to enjoy a glass.
- Karl-Theodor-Straße 4, 22765 Hamburg
What is it that makes a historic wine bar worth visiting? I asked Anna Von Bertele, of Roberson Wine in London. As she told me: “There are many wine bars that have stood the test of time because what they offer is interesting. Old wine bars have a lovely feeling of history and character to them, but at the moment there is also a new wave of wine bars due to the demand of something different.”
Now jump on a jet plane and enjoy the romance of history.