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Thursday, June 10, 2010

V & R Imports

Every time I go to V & R Imports, the upmarket wine salon (or “oenotheka”) at Sokolovská 61, I invariably end up having fun poked at me, getting piddlified more than is good for me the next day, spending more than I originally intended, and tottering into a taxi home at the end of the night, or - failing that - losing expensive items of property (such as camera with all my review photos of my latest evening there) on public transport instead.

So why then, given all the above, has V & R’s been the favourite haunt of myself, the girls, and even Mr K since its early days as a Vinohradská tržnice wine retailer, and why do I keep inexorably coming back for more?

1. The Wine

Well, without wanting to state the obvious, the wine is pretty damn good. Friends of mine will tell you that I happily quaff pretty much anything when it comes to wine, eschewing only the most violently vinagrette of varieties. However, after years of guzzling the stuff, even I can tell the good, the bad and the ugly from the superior or occasionally sublime, and can confidently say that all the many and varied wines I’ve ever tasted at V & R’s fall firmly into the latter two categories. I won’t start waxing lyrical on the subject here as I probably wouldn’t be very convincing – suffice to say that as an independent wine importer, distributor and retailer of fine wines (most of which have been personally sourced from vineyards across Europe and the New World), Vera and Robert (the respective "V" and "R" namesakes) certainly know their stuff when it comes to a good tipple. I know I for one would rather spend 35kč on a nice glass of zesty Chilean Chardonnay or fruity Cabernet Sauvignon in elegant surroundings here than fork out the same on your typically bog-standard Müller Thurgau / Frankovka plonk in some dingy hospoda elsewhere – oh and not forgetting the 10% discount for Decanter Club card holders and their regular degustation evenings (usually hosted by the original wine producer themselves) as well...

2. Vinturi

No, not the fictional vampire aristocracy in the Twilight series. Rather, the Vinturi is a nifty thingamajig (one widget for white, another for red) in use at V & R’s that magically aerates the wine, so that you get its full flavour without having to sit around and wait an hour for the whole process to happen naturally. I don't understand how they work, but everyone is definitely getting one for Christmas…

3. The Nibbles

And what would a fine wine be without a new nice nibbles to accompany it? V & R’s offer a full range of light canapés and salads, which includes the option of having the wine matched precisely to your menu. My particular favourites include the platter of pecorino romano and sheep cheese aged in marinated fig leaves accompanied by grissini with rosemary and Spanish black olives (pictured below), as well as their their signature “knoflik” or “button” dishes of Spanish herb toasts topped with a choice of Italian pesto and Gorgonzola, cream cheese and smoked salmon with fresh dill, or prosciutto crudo and Spanish black olive. They also have a food cabinet where you can buy quality olives, oils and foie gras etc.

4. The Sofas

Another major plus point at V & R’s is their beautiful set of sofas, cushions and upholstered chairs – far more comfortable to sit back and enjoy your wine upon than a cold, hard barstool at any rate. Rumour has it that should you ever fall off one of said sofas in a drunken haze, Robert will peel you up off the floor again, chivalrously pour you into a taxi home, and pretend forever after that the whole unfortunate narcoleptic incident never occurred. Dignity preserved! (Ahem...)

5. The Owners

Owners Robert and Vera know their regulars almost as well as some of their wines, and are therefore able to provide personalized, friendly service accordingly. For some reason, in my case this translates into gentle mockery (in the nicest possible sense) each and every time I visit - am not quite sure myself quite why this should be, but every guest (including, most notably, Mr K) I've ever brought here all seem to gleefully join in on the joke, so clearly I must just somehow invite well-meaning derision... ;-)) In all seriousness though, if you are in need of a particular recommendation, a wine for a special occasion, or simply a nice bottle for a relaxing evening in, Robert and Vera are able to advise – as well as offering a general try-before-you-buy policy on the wines in question.

Ok, perhaps I am not the most objective of reviewers in this case, given that I and the girls have been happily quaffing lovely wines here on a regular basis for a good year now – but hey, when did I ever make any claims to detached observation...?? Mission statement of this blog is simply to “share an irreverent look at a few favorites old and new with the rest of the Czech / expat foodie community”, and this is (in my self-confessedly subjective / oenologically uninformed opinion) one personal favourite I am more than happy to recommend to any fellow wine lovers out there... Just be sure to leave a spot on the sofa for me!! ;-))

NB: Photos 1,2 and 5 (i.e. all the good ones) are courtesy of friend and fellow V & R Imports fan Berniece Tahmindjis of Reflections Photography.

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