Drinking Wine In Milan

Milan gets a bad rap from tourists – overpriced and pretentious are phrases that are often bandied about – but I must admit to really enjoying every single one of my visits there. With its proximity to Piemonte, Milanese restaurant wine lists are stacked full of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto although I’ve found that, as with most cities, an excursion away from the centre is advised in order to avoid many of the tourist traps.

Milan 1

Before hopping on the Metro though, be sure to pay a visit to Signorvino, a wineshop-cum-restaurant which sits in the shadow of the Duomo. This is a wine lovers heaven. Apart from the stunning views of the Duomo, there is no corkage charge applied to any of the wines on the shop shelves so you can enjoy delights from all over Italy with a decent plate of pasta for the same price as if you took the bottle away. A bottle of Pieropan Soave Calvarino over lunch provided me with anaesthesia for the afternoon trek around the shoe shops that I was to be subjected to.

Milan 3

I’m told that there are two types of Milanese and that they are exemplified by the fashion of Versace and Armani, the latter sleek and sophisticated, the former brash and loud. After dining at Antica Trattoria della Pesa and Alla Cucina delle Langhe, I began to think the winelists at these restaurants were similarly chalk and cheese. These neighbouring restaurants both came highly recommended and, despite the superior rustic fayre at Trattoria della Pesa, I couldn’t help wishing that more of the Bruno Giacosa and Bartolo Mascarello wines from the list at Alla Cucina delle Langhe had found their way down the road in place of some of the plush Nebbiolo and Sangiovese that dominated. Such thoughts were banished once the excellent Zabaoine arrived in front of me though.

Paddy Milan 2
Ever been into a store that sells DJ decks right alongside designer clothes, Tiffany bracelets and iPod covers? Neither had I until I happened upon Excelsior Milano, a kind of cross between Selfridges and Harvey Nick’s, where the music is loud, the colours are neon and the recession has been well and truly forgotten.

Its food hall is appropriately called Eat’s and, unusually for a department store, the accompanying Enoteca has a really well thought out selection of wines on their shelves. On second thoughts, perhaps this shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise at all since the achingly cool vibe that emanates throughout the store comes across as anything but effortless. Still, the pricing isn’t too bad compared to other central Milanese wineshops, the aforementioned Signorvino excluded, and I for one am quite happy to pay a small premium for the trippy feeling that you get watching the video boards every time you use an escalator.

Those in search of more sedate surroundings can always head to Gastronomia Peck and pick up that 6L bottle of Le Pergole Torte that you’ve always wanted so long as you aren’t running the gauntlet that is Ryanair’s checked baggage allowance of course. I had to settle for a glass of Franciacorta Gran Cuvée Pas Operé Bellavista 2006 in the winebar, but it’s certainly a very civilised way to spend an afternoon. In any case, the baggage allowance had already been taken up by a bottle or two from grappa cathedral Enoteca Cotti.