The last few years has seen Wroclaw's wine scene come on leaps and bounds, with many new shops, bars and restaurants dedicated to wine springing up across the city.
The trend hasn't gone unnoticed by Michał Ostaszewski of Oxy2, who is spearheading a new series of international wine-tasting meetups here in Wroclaw. Ahead of the first gathering at Corso Wine Bar on Friday at 6pm, we spoke to Michał to discuss the growth of wine culture in Wroclaw and what newbies can expect from a wine tasting evening.
Welcome to Wroclaw Uncut Michał. Just how much would you say the wine scene in Wroclaw has grown in stature in the last 6-7 years?
Well, things have certainly changed from the days when vodka was the only staple when it comes to alcohol in Poland. While champagne or sparkling wine has been enjoyed on New Year's Eve for years, vodka was always the preferred drink for special occasions and receptions.
Then slowly the popularity of beer increased, as did the choice of beer, with imported bottles from the likes of Belgium, as well as local craft breweries, fostering a beer culture here in Poland. In the last 6-7 years wine has gradually entered the picture too, with the famous actor Marek Kondrat one of the first to anticipate the trend. He rather bravely set up a network of wine shops around country, and although Marek's venue was not initially profitable, his business has now turned out to be a great success.
The growth of wine culture in Wroclaw is rather visible now – you can certainly see that if you have a stroll down Ofiar Oświęcimskich street, where there is a small cluster of wine bars.
Having said that, in some places it is possible to detect that the knowledge is not quite there yet. From time to time you may encounter staff who are rather lost for words when it comes different shapes and styles or suggesting a pairing. Things are definitely improving though and the knowledge inside the bars, which of course differs depending where you go, is the next hurdle that I'm sure Wroclaw will leap over.
Grape Restaurant in Wroclaw
In terms of great wine venues that have sprung up the last few years, the Grape Restaurant is a terrific example. It has a nice location near Hala Stulecia and in the summer the place is very much an idillac setting to enjoy a glass of wine. They have a superb library of wine too.
For somewhere more casual and closer to the centre, Winnica is an attractive option. Located just off pl.Solny, this is a pleasant and convenient spot to drink some wine after a hard day's work.
Adoria Reisling Wine
What kinds of wine are produced here in Lower Silesia?
Lower Silesia is the best place in which to grow wine in Poland thanks to its slightly warmer and less variable climate in comparison with other regions in the country. Typical wines produced here include Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
We actually have quite a few vineyards in Lower Silesia now, the most famous of which is Adoria, which was opened by American Mike Whitney. The vineyard has definitely proved to be hit; the wine is selling particularly well in Polish hotels and from what I hear, the quality will only get better as the grape vines mature.
This week you are organising a wine-tasting at Corso Wine Bar. For those who haven't been before, what can one expect at such a meeting?
Well, the most important thing to stress is that you don't need to be a professional or a wine snob to enjoy or take part in a wine-tasting.
Naturally some people may be turned off by the fear that their knowledge of wine won't match that of the other participants. However the vast majority of people who do go are not proffesional wine buffs and merely just want to enjoy a nice evening, taste some great wines and get to learn a little more about the wine that suits their pallate.
That will very much be the story with our wine evenings, at which we aim to foster a fun, friendly and relaxed vibe for all those who attend.