If you have friends who say Italian wine is confusing, then take them to this wine bar in Trastevere in Rome.
The wines on the blackboard called me in from the street with a listing as colourful and clear as notes on a children’s toy xylophone.
In principle, the best wine bars have a sense of non-fussiness. That is why Ferrara is an incredible feat: Italy is a country where nearly everybody is a fussy oenophile. Oh yes, everyone is an expert; but perhaps Italians truly need to be with 1000s of grape varieties and so many excellent regions to choose from. Regardless, this tiny wine bar was not a bad compromise between wines that are accessible and interesting.
We started with a glass of Pecorino from biodynamic and organic winery, La Valentina in Abruzzo, which swiped the tongue as if it were merely a bio touch-screen; a light tap of clean citrus and the tastebuds were refreshed. Nothing complex. Perfect.
Out came the oven trays of mini-pizza, mini-arancini and various fritti, straight from the main restaurant kitchen and on to the bar. Free snacks when drinking wine is not only a good idea, but always welcome. The snacks went very well with the 2008 Ronco del Gelsco Riesling from Friuli, which sliced through the fat of fried octopus.
The tiny, thin bar has a good view of the alleyways of Trastevere where I noticed a few fashionable French students (note to self, buy a new hat for winter), with not much standing room. A bit squashy but I don’t mind being jostled if the atmosphere is good. If anything, it helps.
Attached to the bar is a restaurant. This is where the wines become more serious with a wine list as big as a Vatican bible. Each label is stuck on its own page with 1200 wines* to choose from. There is also a wine shop and a cellar with wines dating back to World War II.
The super-geeky are satisfied and the friends of the super-geeky are not intimidated.
Rome is lucky to have wines from all areas of Italy represented in their restaurants and bars. Enoteca Ferrara is so deceptively simple and relaxed, it also put the dangerous holiday idea in my head: maybe I can open up a wine bar like this in London… uh oh.
Enoteca Ferrara, Piazza Trilussa, 41, 00153 Trastevere, Roma, Italy Tel 06 5833 3920
*More about Ferrara Enoteca and Restaurant wine list (translated from website): 2 volumes to choose from
75 dessert wines by the glass
250 producers found
300 magnum labels
1000 bottle labels
20,000 bottles in the house
All Italian wines, the selection a result of 15 years