How on earth did I get to be exploring the wine bars in Temple Bar, Dublin? Well, isn’t it funny how you can wake up expecting the day to go one way and then life throws you a curve ball and you end up dry heaving in Liverpool? What, that isn’t a relatable analogy? #notsorry.
I was supposed to be in Dublin at 10am on Wednesday morning to attend Google’s annual travel conference. The conference was about artificial intelligence and data science in the travel industry. Pretty fancy subject for an industry that took 10 hours to get me from London to Dublin that day. Wednesday was the day Storm Ali hit Ireland and I was on-board one of several planes that attempted to land in Dublin, only to scarily abort meters from the ground. Our plane got diverted to Liverpool and sat on the tarmac for 3 hours. By 2pm, I hadn’t eaten all day and hence the dry heaves.
To take my mind off the rumbling belly, I consulted Google Maps for “wine bars in Temple Bar”, it was clear I wasn’t getting to conference that day and there was no point wasting a good chance to explore the wine scene of a new city! As I was staying in Temple Bar that evening, I created an itinerary to traverse Temple Bar from east to west to find the best wine bar. Starting at Piglet on Cow’s Lane – (surely the cutest name and address ever for a wine bar), taking in Café Rubis and culminating at Port House Pintxo, the small Spanish chain with another incarnation in Covent Garden.
Wine bars in Temple Bar
I arrived, sodden and windblown at Blooms Hotel at 6pm and headed out to put my plan into action. The following are my notes as I employed some seriously rigorous AI and machine learning techniques to my analysis. Turning up, plonking myself down, and seeing which place I fancied most.
Piglet Wine Bar – Cows Lane
Isn’t it so often way? The first coat you try on, the first restaurant you find, your first love, are often the best? So it was with Piglet. I arrived at 6.30pm and was immediately greeted, handed menus, sat and dealt with attentively. I ordered a by the glass Primitivo. The wine list by the glass was carefully chosen and contained some great value wines from around the world with some star wines from Italy and France. No surprise there as Piglet is French/Italian owned.
What I liked about Piglet?
+ Extensive selection of wines by the glass (20+)
+ Geeky and gorgeous selection by the bottle (100+)
+ Riedel glasses with proper pours
+ An excellent food menu specialising in French/Med cuisine.
+ Indoor and heated outdoor seating on pedestrianized street.
+ Tasting flights
+ Passionate staff who are knowledgeable about the wines.
+ The clientele around me were all debating the nuances of oak. This is where the Dublin wine geeks go!
This is a serious wine lovers wine bar and with the most extensive and varied selection as well as great glasses and service has to take the #1 spot for the best wine bars in Temple Bar (and probably Dublin). The place to bring your best wine snob.
Café Rubis – Parliament Street
This is a beautiful wine bar/restaurant with red velvet and dark wood from floor to ceiling. It’s cosy, classic and the most atmospheric of the three wine bars. However, Café Rubis has a very standard wine selection, and although the menu proffered a good number of wines by the glass, most were not available. The attentive and friendly waiter informed me that they can’t afford to have them all open all the time. The wine I wanted to try had run out completely. I took a disappointing Pinot Noir.
What I liked about Café Rubis?
+ Beautiful Décor and atmospheric.
+ Terrific service from friendly waiters.
Cafe Rubis is atmospheric, but it’s not about the wine here. Perhaps the food is good, I didn’t try it. This place was last by a long way, it’s not a serious wine bar but a venue. The place to bring a romantic date.
Port House Pintxo – Eustace Street
There are many ways to pick a winner. I spent more time at Port House Pintxo, ate there and if I had to choose personally to go to Piglet or Port House Pintxo with a non-wine friend, I’d go to Port House Pintxo. I have to confess, I loved Port House Pintxo because I love Spanish food and wine almost as much as Italian food and wine. They had a great selection of Spanish wines by the glass that even geeky wine nerds want to try like the wine I tried, the Bobal for instance. The food was also better than any of the terrible Spanish restaurants that have popped up in the last 10 years in London.
What I liked about Port House Pintxo?
+ Extensive range of classic and nerdy Spanish wines by the glass and bottle.
+ They had Estrella Galicia on tap, not Estrella Damm!
+ The Spanish wait staff were knowledgeable, kind and quick.
+ Extensive list of mains & regional specialities like Pulpo ala Gallega.
+ Very cool music playing some early Tracey Chapman tunes.
+ There’s one in Covent Garden too!
Port House Pintxo is terrific, but as it’s limited to Spanish food and wine, I had to place Piglet ahead of it as its appeal will be more limited to those with a serious interest in wine. However, if you do like Spanish food and wine, this is the best Spanish wine bar I’ve found outside of Spain (and believe me, I’ve been looking!). Port House Pintxo can stand shoulder to shoulder with any tapas bar in Barcelona or Bilbao. It’s a real find. The place to bring your non-wine mates.
Have I missed any wine bars in Temple Bar I really should have visited? Do you have any recommendations for a return trip? Have you been to any of these wine bars in Temple Bar? Please comment below.