YOU KNOW WHAT
a guaranteed fun time used to be? Smashing wines and Italian snacks at 121BC. You know what’s still fun? Smashing a slightly more international wine list and snacks at Wyno, the same-same-but-different wine bar where 121BC used to be. The Porteño crew, whose Argentinean restaurant is on the adjoining street, took over the beloved wine bar and honestly, the only change is that there’s less Italian stuff on the menu. Oh, and they gave the statement lampshade to a staff member who has hung it in their bedroom. That single, red-tiled table still takes up the majority of the floorspace. Zipping along the edges is venue manager Gavin Wright and the Porteño group’s wine guru Joe Valore, pouring out glasses of Gradizzolo le Amfore, a Bolognian wild ferment wine aged in earthenware pots. Its oxidised grippiness grabs you by the lapels on the first sip, but by the third you’ve settled into a delicious rhythm with this savoury drop. There’re still a lot of Italian accents on the wine list, but the snacks list is a pick’n’mix of influences that mostly fall under the subheading of Salty and Rich. Little plates of roasted peanuts and extra crunchy, extra fatty pork belly cracklings will keep restless fingers busy, and the slightly sweet focaccia, charred on the top and plumbed with sweet wells of roasted grapes, comes with spreadable lardo for a confusing cake/bread situation that could almost pass as a dessert. Unlike at Porteño, meat is not the focus here. You’re getting seafood in starring roles, like a sweet little tin of grilled sardines lavished with butter and matchstick-thin fries, or the impossibly silky seafood sausages from LP’s Quality Meats. They’re weird but good, with an extra soft frankfurter texture made from flathead fillets, spanner crab, tarragon and cream. They’re served under a thatch of spaghetti sprinkled with fish roe so that you get an ocean popping candy effect as you eat. There’s even a ragù on the menu that’s made from octopus. This is the kind of place where it pays to let yourself get talked into things, like the Hermit Ram sauvignon blanc from NZ that is the opposite of what you expect: it’s fermented on skins and has a rounded saltiness to it – no passionfruit citrus bite here. An organic Austrian grape called Blaufränkisch results in a mighty fine red that paints a picture of hiking up a rocky, forest slope with pepper, stone, earth and tiny floral highs.