A wonderful variety of wine bars have sprung up all over Athens, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed chat with friends over a glass of good wine, complemented by equally good food.
Notable bottled wine production didn’t start in modern Greece until the 1960s when substantial investments in facilities and technology first took place. Nevertheless, the traditional low demand for bottled wine by Greek consumers kept its quality relatively low. Since the 2000’s remarkable efforts in bottled wine quality improvement by wineries and vine farmers brought about spectacular results.
As a consequence, low domestic demand has since surged and Greeks have begun to consume more and more bottled Greek wine, either as part of their entertainment or as an accompaniment to their food.
So, while fifteen years ago the term wine bar was mostly unknown to the Greek public, nowadays, every remarkable bar and restaurant cluster in Athens has its own place dedicated to wines. Most wine bars in Athens employ knowledgeable staff, feature a large variety of wines, and offer complimentary or even main dishes; with quality (most of the time) ranging from descent to high-end.
Athens has been an attraction for the past few centuries for both Greeks and foreigners alike. Its ancient history and ruins worked as a time travel in its visitors’ imagination.
Modern Athens has changed a lot from the time of its liberation from Ottoman rule when it was already a prominent destination for knowledgeable travellers to the various lands of the Mediterranean Sea.
But up until recently, Athens was still a destination of historical interest only. Tourists used to visit Athens for a few days to see the antiquities before they embarked on their trip to the islands of the Aegean, where they mostly spent their vacation time.
Thanks to the information technology burst, internet proliferation, and the increase of its users and time spent on it, more and more people have discovered that Athens offers more than history and sunshine.
Its Mediterranean climate urges its people to go out and enjoy themselves. This outgoing need has created and sustained a vibrant entertainment scene in the city for the past few decades, which is well-synched with global trends.
Dance clubs, generic and various music genre-oriented bars, concert halls, Greek urban and folk live music halls, Greek, ethnic cuisine, and gourmet restaurants comprise the melting pot of Athenian outdoor entertainment.
Within this lively amusement scenery, wine bars have sprung up in the city like mushrooms filling a gap between nightlife entertainment and the need to have a meal outdoors and socialize. Relaxed evening talks around a bottle of good wine, complemented with equally good snacks and food was an experience that may have been lacking in Athens- but that has now changed.
As luckily, the city’s young wine bar scene has grown; and very well at that. It features many young-gun sommeliers and established restaurateurs whose services offer real added value to the customer.
The wine bars of Athens are redefining the way we Greeks drink wine and offer those already familiar with them a chance to not miss them while far from home. So here’s a list of great wine bars to choose from, for your next visit to the Greek capital!
Perhaps the most famous wine bar in Athens. Located just a stone’s throw away from Syntagma Square, Oinoscent is a wine bar and restaurant. Its wine list is focused on international vineyards but it also features several Greek labels from selected wineries. The food menu is focused on small, dish varieties that are very tasty. Prices are slightly on the higher end of the spectrum but the quality justifies the premium. Don’t miss the chance to inspect the wine cellar in the basement!
This cozy little wine bar, not far from Syntagma Square, is another great option for getting to know domestic wines. All labels on the list are also available for retail purchase at cellar prices. Their wines combine ideally with carefully selected local varieties of cheese, hams and other delicacies, which are available in its unique space downtown.
This sophisticated wine bar, a few steps from the new Museum of Contemporary Art in the Koukaki district, is ideal for quiet wine drinks in the evening. It has a detailed wine list and offers troves of interesting wines at reasonable prices. Nevertheless, choosing Materia Prima as a date destination with your significant other might not be recommended as you may find its wine list pretty distracting!
Imagine a chic, rustic, warm, atmospheric penthouse apartment decorated in earthly colours with a laid-back feel; now, add a 1200+ bottle wine list and you’ve got Vintage. What is more, are the many choices for those who love meat and cheese, as well as its central location in Athens, since it is very close to Syntagma Square.
Perhaps the wine bar with the best view in all of Athens. It’s located on the rooftop of Utopia Hotel and once there, you can enjoy the wine while staring at the Athenian horizon ranging across from the hill of Lycabettus, the Parthenon to the city’s old but still operating sky Observatory and along from Mount Hymettus at the background all the way to the Parliament at the forefront. The 100+ labels focus on Greek vineyards; framed by simple and delicious dishes of the Mediterranean cuisine. What else can one ask for?
Heading down to the southern suburbs of the city and specifically to the once industrial zone of Piraeus, lies an exemplary wine bar housed in a stunning converted warehouse. The décor is very original where the shelves filled with empty bottles give the feeling of a wine depository, the chairs are painted with wine landscapes and the tables are made of repurposed wine barrels. The owner is an experienced sommelier and offers his guests a list of 300 labels from the European South accompanied by Mediterranean dishes.
Featuring two wine bars across the city (Glyfada and Voula), Cava Vegera is the perfect antidote to the overcrowded city centre scenery. Both bars pay tribute to everyone who truly loves wine, by offering wines and dishes from across the Mediterranean and around the world. Cava Vegera wine bars also feature a wine store, upstairs, where you can find close to 1,000 different wine labels that you can drink in-store for a small corkage fee.