We take a sneak peek at the latest venture from Beijing cocktail royalty
Beijing, by and large, has played host to scant few self-styled wine bars, which tend to veer wildly in expertise, price and overall quality. Despite the capital’s unmistakeable love for craft beers and even craftier cocktails, casual spots for a glass of vino remain few and far between, with wine bar culture yet to make a perceptible mark on Beijing’s general drinking scene, unlike for our rivals down south in Shanghai. From this slightly less-than-stellar field now emerges Pinó, a new wine bar and small-plates concept tucked away in Jiaodaokou.
A play on pinot noir, Pinó comes courtesy of an all-star line-up of food and wine proprietors, including Kai Wang and Mattia Beradi of hutong favourite Nina, Andrea Amadio of Nordic fine dining establishment The Georg, and Lao Yan, the owner of Nanshan (the grocery store previously occupying Pinó’s space). Credentials aside, it’s Pinó’s cheery neon sign, visible from the street and intentionally reminiscent of Nina’s, that notifies first-time punters of Pinó’s heritage.
For a hutong space, Pinó boasts a surprisingly immense square footage, and is divided into three distinct spaces, plus a planned outdoor terrace for summertime sips. The main, and largest, space plays host to the wine bar itself, with a mix of comfortable seating, warm lighting and a sprawling wooden wine rack (designed by Wang himself) laden with wines from across the globe. It’s an intentional move towards accessibility (a quickly noticeable theme) to not only lure in casual sippers, but also let guests browse from Pinó’s wine selection up close and personal, according to Wang.
Curated from a mix of Amadio and Wang’s favourites (with plans to eventually change up the selection depending on clientele), wines span the globe from Italy, Australia, Germany and more, plus closer to home in the form of Ningxia varieties. For those who tend to find wine descriptions frustratingly opaque or burdened with jargon, Pinó’s menu lists only three adjectives to describe each vintage, leaving a wide berth for personal preferences.
Choose from a changing list of curated pours by the glass (48-58RMB, 38RMB for wine of the month) or choose a bottle to either sip in store or take home. Want to splurge on a bottle of Deutz Brut Classic Champagne (668RMB)? Go for it. Prefer a more modest bottle of 200RMB chardonnay? Help yourself – Pinó’s out to cater to both laidback sippers and wine devotees.
Unlike Nina’s hearty menu of pasta and calzones, Pinó’s focusing on small plates and nibbles. Tempura vegetables made with a prosecco batter are a nice touch (the tempura sage is a revelation), while platters of crusty bread, charcuterie and imported Italian cheese ensure the focus never strays far from the glass. Even the cocktail list features a restrained mix of classics plus, intriguingly, wine cocktails. Try the cocktail champagne (58RMB), made with cognac, bouvet brut and bitters, or the kamuy sour (68RMB), for an unorthodox blend of red wine, egg whites, lemon and rye whisky. Our top pick, hands down, though is the frozé (that’s a frozen rosé, for those of you not in the know), a cheeky, crowd-pleasing blend of rosé wine, tequila, triple sec and lime (70RMB) – we’re already envisioning scorching, summer days lazily spent sipping on one (or five) of these.
The singlemindedness of Pinó’s main space slightly incongruously gives way to a second room featuring Jing-A brews on tap, as well as gourmet hotdogs courtesy of 18CM Champion Mountain. Wang’s conscious of also catering to non-wine lovers, leading to an unconventional dynamic between the main wine space, the secondary beer space, and the third space for cosy couples. Pinó is nothing if not accessible, and with its mix of wines, bites and beers primed to fill a much-needed void in Beijing’s drinking scene, we’re more than ready to be wined and dined.
Pinó’s official launch kicks off at 5pm on Saturday June 8.
Pino. 1 Shoubi Hutong, Dongcheng district. 东城区寿比胡同1号. Open 5pm till late daily.