Learn­ing by Drink­ing

Pub Klemo has a well-stocked se­lec­tion and af­ford­able tast­ings

METROPOLE - Vienna in English - - CONTENTS - By Si­mon Bal­lam

The vinothek Pub Klemo’s of­fers af­ford­able lessons in viti­cul­ture, with their fine se­lec­tion avail­able for tast­ing in their cozy wine bar.

If Rome has cof­fee and Moscow has vodka, then Vienna’s soul fuel is surely wine. The city is awash in the stuff: dozens of Vinotheken and wine bars, some as vast as su­per­mar­kets and oth­ers in­ti­mate, but all bring us the best that France, Italy or Spain has to of­fer. To say noth­ing of the sev­eral hun­dred grow­ers within easy driv­ing dis­tance, happy to open their cel­lars to the ca­sual caller. So it’s not easy to find a busi­ness niche in this world of wine, but Tracy and Robert Brand­hofer of Pub Klemo may just have done it. For day­time pa­trons, their cor­ner shop in the busy Mar­gareten district near Naschmarkt of­fers 3,500 wines from all over – and never the ones you can also find at Wein & Co. or the other big-scheme em­po­ria. And you cer­tainly feel in good hands. Tracy Brand­hofer (who is English) has the bub­bly en­thu­si­asm of an is­lan­der still dis­cov­er­ing the joy of liv­ing on a con­ti­nent where wine is part of daily life. (One is re­minded of Amer­i­can chef Ju­lia Child’s joy­ous dis­cov­ery: “Do you re­al­ize that French peo­ple eat French food ev­ery day!”). How­ever, any wine dealer who la­bels a 1997 Aus­trian Ries­ling sell­ing for €155 as a “best­seller” is at least tak­ing them­selves se­ri­ously and per­haps de­serves to be treated as such.

OF DAILY, FINE & RARE

For those of us with more mod­est price hori­zons, the good news is two-pronged. First, the Pub Klemo wine shop sorts its se­lec­tion into three cat­e­gories: daily, fine and rare. De­cent every­day wines start around €7, but you do need to be ready to pay €25 to €100 to gain ac­cess to the wine won­der­land be­yond what we nor­mally see on the shelves. Of course they have the clas­sics from Aus­tria, France and Italy well cov­ered, but for this cor­re­spon­dent, their se­lec­tion of the crim­i­nally un­der­rated Ger­man or quite sim­ply un­known Swiss wines was a mouth­wa­ter­ing rev­e­la­tion. But back to re­al­ity with a bump: Fifty eu­ros up­wards for a wine you don’t know is a leap of faith. So their sec­ond prong is even bet­ter: reg­u­lar wine tast­ings across the street at the cozy (read “cramped”) lit­tle Pub Klemo Wein­bar. Here, tast­ings are in­tended to help you learn the nu­ances be­tween sim­i­lar wines: Ev­ery week, the bar of­fers two blocks for tast­ing – six whites and six reds. Each group is closely re­lated by de­sign – for ex­am­ple, all from a sin­gle re­gion or from the same grape va­ri­ety. Sam­pling a block costs be­tween €18 and €25, a good and af­ford­able way to cover a lot of ter­roir with minimal shoe leather. If you feel that wine with­out food is a missed op­por­tu­nity, there is a limited menu of tempt­ing treats: clas­sic Ital­ian an­tipasti, soups and home­made tagli­atelle with var­i­ous salse. There are also about 30 wines from their “daily” list avail­able by the glass and another 40 from the “fine and rare” cat­e­gories. And lest you bris­tle at the miser’s mea­sure of 1/16th, re­mem­ber, your hosts are al­low­ing you to sip the nec­tar of the gods on a mere mor­tal’s bud­get. The very best are served in ele­gant Zalto glasses so thin that you hardly dare to breathe, much less break into song. Se­ri­ous play­ers can also test their skills and elect to taste blind. What­ever the cat­e­gory, this is a great way for a wine-in­spired soul to pass the time till mid­night.

Tracy Brand­hofer of Pub Klemo has an in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm for wine, mak­ing her an ex­cel­lent guide to the world of viti­cul­ture.

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