Raise a Glass: A Wine-Tastic Journey through Galway City
If you have ever been to Galway you will know how colourful and vibrant the place is. Well, there are also lots of shades of wine in this beautiful city in the west of Ireland. For lots of people, Galway will be inextricably linked with the humble pint but while that may be the case the city’s wine lovers have burst out of the cellars and are enjoying a boom period. The city’s wine culture is constantly evolving and has long moved on from a simple choice of red-or-white; offering a selection of wines that are much more than that. Being the home of some of the best chefs in the country, Galway also offers some of the best bites to compliment your sip of vino.
Here are a few suggestions, in no particular order, to take your wine experience in Galway City to the next level.
One of the loveliest spots for wine & cheese lovers in Galway. Mainly focused on Italian wines it is possible however to find wines from France, Spain and Portugal as well. Sommelier Elena Dova is a picture-perfect example of Italian hospitality. Elena explained to me that Sheridan’s don’t have a fixed wine menu and that there is always a new addition to their selection, for you to discover on your next visit. A really relaxed vibe in the middle of a lively part of the city, Galway’s famous weekend market takes place on its doorstep, is perfect for get together with friends to enjoy a top-class combination of wine and cheese.
San Fereolo ‘Coste di Riavolo’ Langhe Bianco, Piedmont, Italy, 2014, Off-Licence 29.5€ / On-Licence 38.5€
From a vineyard run on biodynamic principles, this blend of Riesling & Gewürztraminer aged on the fine lees for a year with batonnage. This deep gold, rich, expansive, elegant white wine scented with dried apricot and lychee is showing some soft, oxidative character with nutty notes.
Pairing choice from the menu: Reblochon, Gortnamona Goat, Smoked Gubbeen
Paolo Caciorgna, Etna Rosso ‘Guardoilvento’, 2016, Sicily, Italy, Off-Licence 29€ / On-Licence 38€
Enticing scents of cherry red cherry, strawberry, and Mediterranean herbs lift out of the glass. Made with Nerello Mascalese, the vibrant palate offers red fruits with earthy notes framed by velvety tannins alongside lively acidity.
Pairing choice from the menu: Manchego semi-curado, Comté, Gruyère
A really cool space with a vibrant atmosphere with some great wines and food. Tartare is located in the Galway’s Westend at sets itself apart with its focus on the natural & organic wines. Tartare was a key part of Natural Wine Week, a brainchild of JP McMahon, which ran successfully back in November. Tartare seamlessly combines both café and wine bar culture under one roof. On my most recent visit, I was warmly welcomed by Sommelier Zsolt Lukacs with whom it is always such a pleasure to talk about wines. Tartare is the place to enjoy your evening glass of wine and you can pair with some delicious food such as oysters, beef tartare, pickled fish, Irish cured meat and artisan cheese boards.
Lyrarakis, Vóila Assyrtiko, Crete, Greece, 2017, By-the-glass 9.5€ / By-the-bottle 38€
This lively white, made with the native grape Assyrtiko offers soft white peach, nectarine, lychee and citrus aromas touched by a wave of elderflower alongside chalky character. A balanced, very refreshing, food-friendly choice for everyday.
Pairing choice from the menu: Dooncastle oyster with sea lettuce and trout roe.
Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli, Kakheti, Georgia (Amber Wine), By-the-glass 13.75€ / By-the-bottle 55€
This Georgian wine made from indigenous Rkatsiteli is fermented and aged in qvevri, a unique Georgian vessel used to ferment and store wine. Having fermented on its skins, this rich textured, amber wine is bolstered by delicate tannins. Aromatic, with notes of raw honey, sweet figs, dried apricot and heather, this amber wine boasts with delicate flavours with a touch of salinity in the finish.
Pairing choice from the menu: Beef tartare with pickled onion and smoked egg.
A little corner of Spain in Galway! This ever popular and cosy eatery with a lively style focuses, unsurprisingly, on the Spanish food and wine in the traditional tapas style so it is a perfect gastronomic experience for those you like to share. Cava offers a wide number of regional Spanish tapas and Spanish wines that lend perfectly to a great dining experience. It is also worth remembering you can drop by for a glass of sherry and a selection Spanish charcuterie while out enjoying your afternoon in town at the weekend.
Lustau ‘Los Arcos’, Amontillado, By-the-glass €6.50.
Golden brown in colour, with smooth, nutty aromas along with apricot, cinnamon and prune. The palate is full, round, silky and satisfying with warming layer of alcohol. Overall this is a rich, dry style of Amontillado that finishes long and secure.
Pairing choice from the menu: Jamón ibérico with hazelnut, quince and olives.
In the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter next-door to the Galway institute that is Tigh Neachtain, Kasbah wine bar offers a great selection of wines from different wine regions of the world. Small plates of food that go excellently with your glass are prepared using only locally sourced ingredients. Everything including bread to chutney is made in the kitchen of Kasbah. Erin Bill takes great care when selecting the wines in Kasbah. What can be better than the pairing of gorgeous Irish farmhouse cheese with fantastic wines while being given the perfect view of the hustle and bustle of the City of the Tribes.
Willems Willems Hofmann ‘Altenberg’ Kabinett Riesling, Saar, Germany, By-the-glass 9€ / By-the-bottle €43.00
Notes of honeysuckle, white peach and pear are intensely aromatic with a touch of chalky charater. This off-dry refreshing wine is lushly textured, yet it finishes delicately.
Pairing choice from the menu: Young Buck Blue Cheese.
Well, it has been said that the wine is an art so it is fitting that both art and wine are at the heart of The Black Gate. The Black Gate combines music, literature, art, film, and dance together with food and wine. As a home for great performances any night of the week, you can walk into this city centre venue at any time and know you are going to enjoy a nice glass of wine and be entertained by whatever event is on that evening. Co-owner Peadar King pays special attention to their wines and I would be remised if I didn’t mention their wine appreciation events on Saturday evenings hosted by yours truly.
San Simon, Refosco, Italy, 2017, By-the-glass 7.6€ / By-the-bottle €32.00
A pure expression of Refosco, a native grape of northeast Italy, offers red cherry, red plum and cranberry aromas with a touch of sweet spices. This lively, silky red wine is backed by touches of refreshing mouthfeel and smooth tannins.
Pairing choice from the menu: Cheese Platter including Smoked Gubeen, Fourme d’Ambert, Comté, Morbier, Brie and Munster.
I’ve always liked the kitchens with a dining table in it that you can spend long hours enjoying the food, chat and laughter. Once you step foot in Kai, you just get this same warm, cosy, welcoming feeling. Much has been said about this gem of the Galway food scene, but it always lives up to the hype. I was actually overwhelmed seeing that many great wines gathered on the table waiting to be tasted when I visited Kai. Their Sommelier Ruairí Riddell has demonstrated great taste in selecting their wines which are a perfect great accompaniment to their award-winning food. There is always perfect wine for any dish in Kai, even if you’re in there for their famous brunch (just try and get there before the queue stretches the Sea Road!)
Fontanasanta, Manzoni Bianco, Italy, 2016, By-the-bottle €65.00
Made with biodynamically grown Manzoni Bianco grapes that is fermented in concrete tanks and aged in acacia barrels for 12 months. This is a sophisticated wine with yeast-buttery notes alongside yellow apple aromas. The creamy palate delivers a great depth of flavours with a delicate touch and complexity.
Pairing choice from the menu: Clare Crab with Celeriac & Pumpkin Seed Oil & Goatsbridge Caviar
Broc Cellars ‘Love Red’, California, USA, 2016, By-the-bottle €55.00
This biodynamically produced blend of Carignan, Valdiguié and Syrah with balanced fruitiness and tannins features a vast complexity. It opens in fragrant red cherry, rhubarb and vanilla, with a subtle trace of green and earthy notes.
Pairing choice: Monkfish, Roasted Squash & Burrata, Cured Meat.
The Michelin-starred Loam may not be the first place you consider when deciding where to go for your glass of wine, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Loam also provides excellent wine, local cheese & charcuterie as a wine bar in a very elegant way. Sommelier Niall Flynn selects his wines from the Old-World wines to minimize the impact of transportation on the environment. If you are looking for spending your evening with a glass of great wine in a special atmosphere Loam could be the place for you.
Blanco de Hornillos, Bodegas Callejuela, Palomino, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain, 2017, By-the-glass 8€ / By-the-bottle 39€
This is lush smelling but dry at the same time, with touches of yellow apple, hazelnut and oksidative notes.
This juicy and refreshing white wine made with Palamino grapes has a complex and smooth finish.
Pairing choice from the menu: Cheese platter including Milleens, Durrus Óg, Killeen’s, Young buck, Triskel.
Turner Pageot, Le Rouge, Languedoc, France, 2015, By-the-glass 10€ / By-the-bottle €48.00
Grown biodynamically, it is a blend of Grenache and Syrah from Languedoc in France. This wine offers aromas and flavours of candied black cherries, black olives with the touch of leather and earthy notes. It is dense and smooth in consistency with a youthful and bright personality.
Pairing choice: Venison stew, Wild boar sausage cassoulet
Sevgi’s passion for wine begun while she was studying food engineering in one of the wine-producing regions of her native Turkey. Following her graduation, she chased her dreams and started to work as a winemaker in her home country.
She obtained her MSc in Oenology & Viticulture from the Montpellier SupAgro and Hochschule Geisenheim University. Mosel in Germany, one of the most respected wine regions, is where she experienced the practice of growing grapes in the extreme steep-slope vineyards. Later, she conducted research for her postgraduate study about the wine market in Ireland.
Currently, she provides wine education and consultancy through her company A WINE IDEA based in Galway.