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Italy is home to some of the finest wine labels, but don’t be fooled: to drink well you need to know the right locations: those frequented by sommeliers and chefs during their free time, where the best, unique bottles are served.
It is easy to find a good place to drink well in Milan; whether it’s wine, beer or cocktails, the city offers the best. For a good glass of wine (but a really good one), you have to go to a wine bar. There aren’t many of them, making it an exclusive and special experience. The obvious wine bars like Signorvino may appear inviting, but read on for our selection of wine connoisseur hotspots, where you can meet sommeliers and wine lovers. The following locations feature a vast choice of quality wine, an ideal atmosphere, and above all – just like a good wine – strong personality.
A wine bar and restaurant, a bit of both in this historic and well-known place just a stone’s throw from Piazza Duomo and Castello Sforzesco. The wine cellar is well stocked, including fine bottles, and about thirty seats in a rustic setting. One of those places that every connoisseur appreciates.
The cuisine is based on Lombard tradition and propose hearty dishes all year around. You can start with cold cuts and cheese, Russian salad, nervetti (veal shank offal), saffron risotto and simple and well-made Milanese dishes. It is open on Sundays and this makes it the perfect hangout for chefs and restaurateurs enjoying their day off with their families and friends. Thus, it’s not just a simple Trattoria.
Time seems to have stopped in this small wine bar, one of the few Italian places in via Paolo Sarpi, the Milanese China Town. Packed with bottles up to the ceiling, totally crowded and lively, the shabby appearance hides a selection of amazing labels, also served by the glass. Cantine Isola is for true enthusiasts – the preferred place to taste vintage wines or precious bottles. At aperitif time, it is crowded and you have to make your way through the tables and counter in order to steal some bites to eat, but it’s totally worth it – this feels like being in the true Milan. During the Summer, you can enjoy your drink outside along the pedestrian street or underneath the newly-opened outdoor area.
Don’t ask for Amarone or a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino. Here, the choice is limited to only natural wines and bottles which do not conform to commercial wine. Small producers, niche labels, extended maceration wines, and real gems for the connoisseurs. Minimal furnishing, peeling paint and an ‘A’ for anarchy printed on glasses perfectly incarnate the radical-chic spirit (or Champagne socialist) to which the place is dedicated to. On Saturday mornings, there are guided tastings with independent producer labels: “Socialist Saturdays”. There’s always people, inside and outside, being in the middle of via Lecco GayStreet, but you can book in advance. You can nibble on sardines, anchovies and canned fish with bread.
There are numerous places in Milan’s Navigli district. But if you want to drink well, there is only one: Rebelot del Pont de Fer. It began as a bistro near the Point de Fer, a restaurant with which it shares an enviable, extensive wine list, from classics to original labels. Rebelot is also perfect for a cocktail, a light dinner, or a stop after dinner. You can choose from their formula menus which have a selection of mini plates and drink combinations at fair prices. You can also drink by the glass and the selection of Champagne is excellent. Late at night and on Sundays, it is not uncommon to find the people of the Milanese gastronomy scene sitting at the tables.
There are lots of bubbly options at this joint. Not a mainstream bar, and featuring many small producers in a location near Porta Romana, El Buscia is part of the new gastronomy district in Milan. A wide selection of wines by the glass is available, but you can also open a whole bottle with no corkage fee. To accompany it, a good cheese and cold-cut platter. Ask for advice and enjoy unique labels.