Our first port of call turned out to be shut for holidays, so we shot off in the Smart, looking for an alternative, the next option down a leafy side street was also shut, ‘who needs wine on a Sunday!’ declared my host Razvan. We careered back to the historic centre, performing a few questionable manoeuvres along the way, ending up almost back at our starting point. We identified a wine bar that would open at 3pm, so went off for lunch in the meantime.
We ventured back later, finding the wrought iron chairs on the terrace had now been laid out the right way up. Looked promising.
CORKS is located in the historic city centre of Bucharest, down a quiet side street, with a mixture of crumbling and renovated historic buildings. Opposite there is a shrouded empty space awaiting redevelopment, like much of the historic centre.
The interior was designed by Mihai Popescu, a famous interior designer responsible for the design of numerous top restaurants and bars in Romania. It is stylish and elegant, yet cosy, and, with its copper, green and earth tones, is meant to reflect the vinicultural landscape. The ‘chandeliers’ are crafted from wood, cut into wine bottle shapes, others have cork ‘crystals’. One wall is constructed of original wooden wine cartons, placed rather sloppily, perhaps the builder had a glass of wine too many as he was doing the ‘brickwork’! The bar is made of copper, as are the light fittings above it. Rows of wine glasses hang sparkling from the ceiling. The walls are covered with antique-style handmade tiles. One wall is lined with the regulars’ tasting books, with the owner’s picture on the front, including that of Cezar Ioan, founder and publisher of Vinul.ro. Their business cards are printed on corks.
Down in the cellar, there is a ‘cellar booth’, furnished like a wine and champagne library, with the original brickwork of the ceiling, where you can peruse corks’ entire range – over 300 wines, of which 125 are served by the glass.
So, to the wine. You certainly won’t be spoilt for choice here. You can choose from a wide range of both Romanian and international wines, old and new world, including some premium and vintage wines. Try wines from Dragasani, Transylvania, Dealu Mare, Oltenia and Dobrogea. You might also try something from the neighbouring Moldova. Delve into Romanian indigenous varieties, such as Tamaioasa Romaneasca, Cramposie, Feteasca Alba, Regala or Neagra, or Negru de Dragasani. Don’t miss the special rosés made from the fragrant pink grape, Busuioaca de Bohotin. If you are not in the mood for wine, you could try one of their corkstails, a craft gin and tonic, or something sparkling. They also have a range of reasonably priced snacks to accompany the drinks. Cozy hour, 20% off, is from 3-7. A 120ml glass of wine ranges from about 12-48 RON, with many falling in the 20-25 (approx. €4-6) range. Noroc!