Nobody can talk in all ernesty about wine without sounding like a bougie prick. Unless, of course, it’s someone as charming and passionate as world-class sommelier Rakhshan Zhouleh, whose capturing tales of textures, colors and subtleties will lure you into the centuries old myth of wine.
Together with a few fellow bloggers from the FIBER gang, we were invited to a bespoke wine tasting experience at the formidable Das Stue Hotel in Tiergarten. But the focus of the event was neither the wine nor Zhouleh, who – bless his heart – tried his best to teach some of his ignorant audience (me) about the textures and tastes of wine. The star of the night? The cork.
Sustainable and sophisticated – #NATUERLICHKORK
Zhouleh, who has been working his trade for over 20 years, is a big fan of cork. The ceremonial process of opening a bottle of wine or champagne is not just an illusion of wealth, tradition and sophistication, it is indeed a vital part of the life of a bottle. Sure, if you’re one of those cheap supermarket wine grabbers, you might find yourself facing a whole wall of bottles with plastic stoppers. They might do their job for young wines, but for anything that is supposed to age in the bottle, you will need the natural cork to act as a natural controlling mechanism for the air supply of the product.
But let’s sideline the technicalities of bottling wine. Plastic or aluminium caps on wine bottles are cheaper than natural cork for the producers, but they come at the high price at more waste and highly inefficient manufacturing process. Meanwhile, cork is from the mighty cork oak (or as I call her in German, Die Korke), 100% recyclable and part of an important ecological system in Portugal. The bark of the cork oak is the material used for corking bottles, but also for creating sustainable fashion, furniture and other products.
A study about cork revealed that the production of alternative caps for wine bottles produced 10 (plastic) to 26 (aluminum) times as much CO2 than cork.1 Once you also consider the recycling of the cork (if done right), the ecological footprint can be reduced even further.
Alright, you’re probably wondering why I’m rambling on about cork. Besides the obvious sentiment of corked wine being classier than a twist cap, the cork oak plantages of Portugal are threatened. If cork is slowly substituted by other materials, the tender cork oak forests will fall victim to deforestations, taking down a regulated ecosystem with it. The #NATUERLICHKORK campaign by Deutscher Kork-Verband e.V. is trying to combat this development, drawing attention to the precious material.
Our top 5 (wine) bars in Berlin
Now that I’ve enlightened you about why cork is important, it’s time to get drinking. I’ve listed for you my 5 favorite bars in Berlin 2 where surely you will only be served out of corked wine bottles. Make sure you specifically ask, as most twist caps will be opened before the table is approached.
Das Stue Hotel
Prior to our little tasting event I had not been to the Stue hotel in the former Danish embassy, but I was stunned by the intricate contemporary interior design and the exquisite service. At Das Stue, the wines were chosen before the menu (with help by no other than Rakhshan Zhouleh himself), which should tell you something about the priorities of the house.
Das Stue Hotel, Drakestraße 1, 10787 Berlin
The Cordobar is an institution for Berliners with a knack for wine. The easy-going, Austrian and slightly punkish atmosphere of the petite bar doesn’t hint at the carefully curated and highly stunning wine menu. Better if you’re hungry, too, as the tapas style snack dishes have absolutely deserved their Bib Gourmand treatment.
Cordobar, Große Hamburger Str. 32, 10115 Berlin
The youthful, Italian vineria right next to its restaurant sister Goldener Hahn in Kreuzberg’s picturesque Pücklerstraße is a wonderfully romantic but lively location for a night-cap. I specifically like Gallina for its lack of business-casual customers and fratboy tourists; a feel-good place for the neighborhood. Just like in Italy.
Bar Gallina, Pücklerstraße 20, 10997 Berlin
While I’m not honestly subscribed to the whole ‘natural wine’ act that has been flooding the city, I can appreciate the concise wine menu at Wild Things. It’s one of my favorites during the weeks, for when the evenings are slow and the rain is painful. It’s not as cozy and more of a “trendy” place than other wine bars, but out of all the other natural wine bars (jaja, for example, is so tiny that you end up sitting on someone else’s lap), Wild Things was the one that didn’t annoy me. Their snack menu is worth a try, too, although steeply priced for this part of Neukölln.
Wild Things, Weserstraße 172, 12045 Berlin
At Facciola, nights are always young. This fresh Italian wine bar serves delicious drinks and accompanying snacks, but for me, it’s really the kind, generous and highly entertaining owner Aurora and her charming staff that make any visit here an experience. Don’t expect to leave this place sober. Or alone.
Facciola Berlin, Forster Str. 5, 10999 Berlin
- Quelle: LCA-Studie von PricewaterhouseCoopers 2008
- Why 5? Because how many favorites am I supposed to have? Stop pretending you're going to check out 20 different recommendations on a listicle on the internet