Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

back to overview

June 2007

Wine Bars

Before moving to Munich, I couldn’t imagine enjoying a beer, much less a few liters. Ordering wine in the Biergarten, though, quickly made me the target for ribbings, and so I traded in my Rieslings for Radlers until my taste buds could handle unadulterated brew. I’ll admit that Munich beer is flavorful, but it can’t compare to the rich bouquet of a crisp Chardonnay. If you also find it hard to unwind on a hard wooden bench, Munich has a solid number of chic wine bars: for vino lovers, a welcome counterpart to local beer culture.

German wines have surged in popularity in recent years. Franconia, in particular, has always been prized, and vineyards now ship bottles of Spätlese and Müller-Thurgau all over the world. Franconia isn’t far away, but to experience these specialties in Munich, there’s no better setting than Vinorant in the Alter Hof. The building served as the royal residence for several Holy Roman emperors and Bavarian kings; the wine bar and restaurant play up their links to tradition. The menu, for example, features several types of Franconian Flammkuchen (€ 4 to 8). A kind of thin pizza, it comes in onion and bacon, or ruccola and prosciutto varieties, among others. Despite its conventional theme, the food has a fresh modern touch that’s reflected in the décor. The dark wood furnishings call to mind a smoky German restaurant, but have the slick finish of modern design. Highlighted against the creamy walls, the effect is more Armani than beer cellar. (Tel. 24 24 37 33, Open Mon. through Sun., 11 am to 1 am.)

Wine-loving Armani fans, however, should skip the Emporio’s own boring Café. Just a few feet away inside the Fünf Höfe, Bar Comercial is a sleek and welcoming urban oasis. Visitors can sip a glass in the lush interior, or take some sun and people-watch on the terrace. It’s all a bit Milan, right down to the daily menu: Gourmet brick oven pizzas, salads, and pasta constitute the rotating offerings. The list of more than 20 open wines (€ 2 to € 16 per glass) features mainly French and Italian varietals, although a Riesling and a Grüner Veltliner are a nod to Alpine vintners. The sensual complexity of each option carries over to the décor: soft leather mixed with bordeaux brocade, angular steel, and glossy wood. Both wines and food can be packaged to take away, though it’s not clear why anyone would want to. (Tel. 20 70 02 66, Open Mon. through Sat., 9 am to 1 am, and Sun., noon to midnight. Each Saturday, a DJ plays from 8 pm to 2 am.)

Garibaldi Bar brings more of la dolce vita de vino to Munich across town in the museum district. The owners and interior designers are explicit about having found inspiration in Italy. The spot is decorated in “Pompeii red” and “the green of olives,” and features a summertime “Piazza,” as well as pannini, pizzette and antipasti on the menu. There’s not, however, a spot of kitsch to be seen. The gleaming modern Italian furnishings are faultless, and are enhanced by rotating pieces of art from the Edition Schellmann collection. Before stopping by, visit their website——to read a list of wines that are currently open. There’s even a countdown of remaining glasses for each, in case you have to leave work early to grab your favorite. (Schelling-str. 60, Tel. 28 67 36 70, Open Mon. through Sun., noon–11:30 pm.)

Italian influences, though, hardly dominate the city’s wine scene. At Retter’s, German varietals take center stage. The daily menu—available online at—features specialties from nearby wine regions, to complement the solid selection on offer. (The “Riesling unplugged” is especially delicious.) Wine aficionados are surely familiar with the wine store of the same name. The shop’s well-chosen selection and excellent service are a part of its adjacent restaurant—opened last summer. The charming wine garden might be a way to introduce Biergarten-addicted friends to Munich’s more relaxed drinking scene. (Frauenstrasse 10 and 12, Tel. 23 23 79 23, Open Mon. through Sat., 11:30 to 2:30 and 5:30 to 11.)

tell a friend