Bologna’s gastronomic heritage goes well beyond Spaghetti alla Bolognese (which, by the way is not even a real Bolognese dish), you should know it by now. You should also know that great food is significantly enhanced when married to great wine. So I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 Enotecas where you can source or drink wine in Bologna. They all have different characters and purposes, some serve food, some don’t, but all share the same genuine passion for wine.
Enoteca Faccioli (Via Altabella 15/B)
Enoteca Faccioli has been in the same hands for three generations since 1924, then sold the business to the current owners in 2012, who turned it into a real Mecca for Natural Wine lovers. The interiors haven’t changed, so the Enoteca still looks like it did in the early 20th Century. The soul, on the contrary, is very much transformed. Only natural wine among the 450 labels on the list, of mainly Italian and French provenance in equal shares. There’s also something to eat; charcuterie, cheese platters and the likes. Of course, food too is sourced from producers that share a similar responsible ethos. It’s cozy, just one room, with a few small, round wooden tables. Ideal to fuel-up before walking up the Asinelli Tower or even for a never-ending chat after a long day sightseeing.
Natural wine is still very niche in Italy so it’s unlikely you’ll find a better selection within miles. When in the area you should definitely make the most of Faccioli’s passionate and knowledgeable owners. One last thing, the location is top. Just next to two of Bologna’s most beautiful towers, Azzoguidi and Prendiparte. You can’t beat that!
Vini e Liquori Scaramagli (Strada Maggiore 33)
The shop is over 100 years old, centrally located under the Porticoes in Strada Maggiore, just a few hundred meters from the Asinelli Tower. Not surprisingly, Scaramagli gets a large number of customers from abroad. The atmosphere though, is 100% Bolognese; gloomy interior, kind of quirky, - in a good way - that will make you feel you are in a film by Federico Fellini... Don’t be fooled, there’s a real sommelier to guide you in your choice, with wines from all over Italy and even a few from abroad. Excellent is the selection of grappe, whiskies as well as sweet and fortified wines.
Enoteca Italiana (Via Marsala 2)
Modern yet cosy, tidy. Enoteca Italiana has been one of the most successful of its kind since it opened in 1972. Today, it offers an excellent and well-kept selection of Italian wines, plus bits from elsewhere in Europe. A remarkable total of 2000 labels; among them most of the better-known Italian bottles.
It’s the ideal place for aperitivo, thanks to its tempting charcuterie & cheese counter. Basically, get some cheese, some ham and a glass of wine. Then take a bottle with you when you leave. There’s also some drug-store food on sale, such as chocolates, preserves, pates, marmalades, olive oils, all of top quality. A room for private functions is available upon request.
Enoteca Il Caffé Bazar (Via Guerrazzi 8)
The name comes from the fact that, when it first opened in 1973, the place was simply a café. It soon turned into a drug store, adding sweets, wines and spirits to its shelves. That’s what it is today, still owned by the same family. They benefit from a trusted clientele of repeat customers, mainly locals, generated over nearly 50 years of activity. Being a little off the beaten track, prices are good, so head there if you are looking for good value. This doesn’t mean you should expect to spend under a tenner. In fact, you’ll be amazed by their selection of ‘classic method’ sparkling wines, with lots of Champagne (including Vintage Champagne), Franciacorta and other Italian Metodo Classico. If you feel a bit down, get some bubbles to lift you up, and don’t forget to buy some sweets too!
Cantina Bentivoglio (Via Mascarella 4/b)
The cherry on the cake. Cantina Bentivoglio is an enoteca, one of the most respected jazz clubs in the country, and a proper restaurant, with a menu offering traditional Bolognese dishes. It is unbelievable how they manage to excel in everything they do.
By visiting the Cantina, housed inside the 16th-Century Palazzo Bentivoglio (hence the name), one cannot miss the energetic vibe coming from the surrounding University district. It’s been focussing on great wine since 1987. Interestingly, the wine list is sorted by price, which gives guests with little disposable income a much easier mean to select their bottle. Whatever the budget be though, Yiannis (the sommelier) is experienced and knowledgeable, and always there to advice. Labels are about 90% Italian, with the remaining 10% from France, Portugal, Slovenia, Germany and the New World.
The two cellars deserve a proper tour. In the first they store all red wines ready for service. It’s a gorgeous underground room that can be used for private tastings too. A second cellar, five metres underground, is humidity- and temperature-controlled, and it’s therefore dedicated to long-term ageing. I’ve spotted some interesting magnums down there…