With the recent explosion in the number of speakeasy cocktail bars and craft beer drinking holes in Singapore, less attention has been given to the city’s choice of wine bars, despite a rise both in the choice of bars available and the number of wine drinkers in the city. Here we list five of our top spots for enjoying a fine vintage or two with friends around town.
Located bang in the middle of the Orchard shopping area, just off Scotts Road, Caveau is brought to you by the same people as its neighbouring Les Amis restaurant, a Singapore fine dining institution. This casual wine and coffee bar is open all day (11am-11pm), attracting a regular morning crowd for the quality of its beans, sourced from Singapore’s highly respected Nylon roasters. With a small patisserie attached, it’s the ideal place to take a break from shopping for well-deserved coffee and cake. Come the evening and a different crowd arrives for the well-stocked drinks list, which offers a selection of Old World wines and rare whiskies at very competitive prices.
Offering an enomatic elite wine storage system, Caveau allows customers the chance to sample six whites or reds in three separate measures, 25ml, 75ml or 150ml. These bottles are changed every month so there’s always something new to try if you’re not ready to purchase a bottle. Alternatively, opt for a Tasting Flight and let the resident sommelier choose a selection of four wines for you for $50++. On the wine list, there are over 200 labels to buy by the bottle, most originating from boutique wineries in France, with prices starting at around $60++ a bottle. With a selection of bar snacks and larger bites available, which includes everything from ham and cheese platters to lobster rolls and duck rilettes with crostini, Caveau is a great choice for a relaxed drink with friends.
Caveau, 1 Scotts Road, 01-12 Shaw Centre, tel: 6737 2622, caveaubar.com.sg
Located above the popular French restaurant Le Bistro du Sommelier, Rillette Bar is a hidden treasure, offering some of the best wines available in Singapore in a charming rustic chic setting. With whitewashed walls decorated artfully with kitchenware and casual bench seating, this generous space is quite unlike anywhere else in the city. With its high ceiling and exposed wooden beams, you could quite easily be in a barn in the French countryside. It’s not just the setting that screams French – the wine is almost exclusively from French vineyards (there’s one just Italian wine on the menu) and so is the food.
Rillette is a close relation to pâté, made from cooking salted meats like pork or duck slowly in fat and then shredding the meat so it forms a rough paste. Here, as the name suggests, they serve an excellent selection of homemade rillettes to accompany the wine, as well as other traditional nibbles like house-smoked hams or rich foie gras terrine. We recommend starting with the rabbit rillette and a glass of sweet unwooded chardonnay before enjoying the richer foie gras terrine or charcuterie platters with a fruity red like the 2007 Les Vercots Pinot Noir. Apart from the bar menu, visitors are free to order from the restaurant menu below for more substantial meals prepared by Executive Chef Brandon Foo.
The wine list offers offer 300 vintages, with wines by the glass changed on a daily basis, offering a choice of regular or premium wines. Sommelier Maximilien Fedkiw curates a wine list that changes with the seasonal menu from the kitchen, concentrating on established and cult wines from particular areas of France. The list is currently heavily focused on the Burgundy area, with Maximilien travelling extensively around France each year in search of new and interesting vintages.
Rillette Bar, 53 Armenian Street, tel: 633 31982, lebistrotdusommelier.com
Located at the base of Club Street, this lively Parisian style wine bar is busy every night, due to its fabulous location, great value for money and good selection of wine. The French couple that opened the bar three years ago wanted to create a little corner of Paris in Singapore and the result was an instant success. Its position on the corner of Club Street and Gemmill Lane, with seating that spills out onto the pavement, is instantly recognisable to fans of the French capital. The wine list offers six whites and reds by the glass together with a monthly special also available by the glass. By the bottle, the list is split into the price ranges of $35-$50, with six bottles of white and red available, $52-$70, with 10 of each available and over $70, with eight whites and nine reds on offer. For Singapore, these are exceptional value – there are not many other places where you can buy a Châteauneuf du Pape for just over $100.
Wines are now also available to take home at a lower price ($66 for the Châteauneuf du Pape) so if you find something you like, take it with you! To accompany the wine, the food menu includes charcuterie and cheese platters as well as some new healthier options like salads and vegetarian dishes. Service is friendly and the atmosphere very much like a busy bistro in the Parisien district the bar is named after.
With the whole of Club Street on its doorstep, Ô Batignolles is an ideal place to begin an evening out on the town – although with prices like these, you may find yourself staying longer than planned.
Ö Batignolles, 2 Gemmill Lane, tel: 6438 3913, obatignolles.com
With three outlets now in Singapore, Merchants has expanded at quite a rate since opening in PasarBella two years ago. This Aussie husband and wife team has created a wine co-operative with select vineyards in Australia and New Zealand, enabling them to bring over small boutique wines at very competitive prices. With the vineyards themselves partners in the business, Merchants enjoys a busy wine calendar of events, tastings and dinners, meaning customers get regular access to the wine makers themselves in Singapore. Designed as a wine shop that sells food, guests can browse the many vintages on display before making their choice. With a casual laid-back atmosphere, Merchants is an ideal place to get to know some of the smaller producers from across 26 regions of Australia and New Zealand while enjoying a bottle or two with friends. Wines by the glass change every month, with four white, one rosé and five reds available. Prices for bottles range from $35 to $155, with discounts available for take out bottles.
Merchants now also exists in two lively heritage areas, on Duxton Road in Tanjong Pagar and on Joo Chiat Road in Katong, so if you’re exploring these historic enclaves, be sure to drop by for a sundowner. Each outlet offers a menu of freshly made snacks, charcuterie and cheese platters and a selection of larger bites – outlets are open all day, serving brunch, coffee, lunch and dinner.
Merchants, 52-53 Duxton Road, tel: 6222 1162
Merchants WIne Cellar & Store, 200 Turf Club Rd, Singapore,
tel: 6467 9118
Merchants, 443 Joo Chiat Road, tel: 6348 9290, merchantsofsingapore.com.sg
One of the most popular wine shops/bars in Singapore, Wine Connection has expanded fast over the past eight years and now has retail outlets across the city-state. Offering a selection of very affordable lesser-known new and old world wines in a casual wine shop setting, the chain has opened four bistros and a cheese bar to date. This expansion is showing no signs of slowing down, due to their ongoing popularity amongst both the local and expat crowd. For a wide selection of wines by the glass, cold cuts and an extensive choice of cheese, we recommend the original Robinson Walk outlet. Split into a wine shop/bar and a separate cheese room, this offers both inside and al fresco seating. Apart from all the wines on display, the drinks menu also offers craft beers and ciders. With over 40 different cheeses flown in from Europe every week, snacks include salads, tartines and even raclette – something to warm the soul on those long cold winter nights! However, if you’re after a more substantial meal, their largest property is just around the corner, offering a western menu of at very competitive prices.
Wine Connection Cheese Bar, 11 Unity Street, 01-05 Robertson Walk, tel: 6328 1279, wineconnection.com.sg
Few countries in the world have developed at the speed