Bangkok generally has a lot to offer food connoisseurs; however, wine connoisseurs notoriously have rather slim pickings and limited options. Although most restaurants do sell wine; the choice of wine is often very limited, and the price tag is usually very high. For the last 10 years the “Wine Connection” has been one of the largest chain store retailers for importing wines into Thailand. The Wine Connection has 10 outlets in Bangkok as well as outlets in Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Phuket, Samui, Singapore and Vietnam. Wine selection varies, depending on what outlet store you visit, but most stores have a range of wines from Europe, Australia, S. America and S. Africa. California wine enthusiast’s should be prepared to be disappointed, as wines from this region are limited to 1 or 2 bottles, or entirely non-existent at most locations. What is nice about the Wine Connection is the variety of wines that they have at reasonable prices. It is easy enough to find more than a dozen options for a nice bottle of wine priced between 300Bht-500Bht a bottle. If your are a wine novice, don’t expect ANY wine expertise from the staff, most are just there to ring up your order, so go in knowing what you want before hand or be willing to just experiment on your own and discover what you like.
In an effort to expand the brand and get more people in Bangkok interested in drinking wine, the latest venture for Wine Connection has been the opening of the “Wine Connection Deli & Bistro” on the ground floor in K- Village at Sukhumvit 26. Hours of operation are daily from 10:30 AM to Midnight. This new venue combines a wine shop, a wine bar, a deli and a restaurant.
The location and décor are impressive, with an open and inviting layout design and a nice mixture of wood, stone, and lighting features that create a laid back and comfortable vibe without being too formal. The wine shop is connected to the restaurant and deli so that even if you are only browsing the wine shop, you are likely to be beckoned in by the aromas and atmosphere of the bistro and feel compelled to step in and try the restaurant.
The wine selection at the Bistro is impressive with 154 wines, sparkling wines and champagnes to choose from. There is a very nice selection of Bordeaux‘s from France, Riesling’s from Germany, Shiraz’s from Australia and a fair amount of Chardonnay’s, Sauvignon Blanca’s, Pinot-Noir’s and Pinot-Grigio’s on offer. Prices range from 500Bht - 2,000Bht per bottle. There is a 500Bht per bottle minimum at the restaurant, so even if you can buy the same bottle of wine for 350Bht in the wine store, it will cost you 500Bht to drink in the bistro. One of the truly unique aspects of the bistro is that you can get wine by the glass. They offer 2 reds (premium and house) and 2 whites (premium and house) for sale by the glass. The premium red served was an excellent Shiraz from “Down Under” brand (580Bht per bottle/140Bht per glass) and featured a characteristic hint of black pepper and complex notes of black cherry and plum on the palate. The house white was “Goiya” brand (540Bht per bottle/100Bht per glass) which is a Chardonnay/ Sauvignon Blanc mix from S. Africa. While it was not as nice as the premium red, at 100Bht per glass it was a pleasant enough wine that was crisp, fruity, not too dry and had background hints of citrus.
It seems that while quite a bit of thought has gone into the wine bar selection of the bistro, the food selection has been a bit more of an after thought. The prices are very reasonable with average entrées under 250Bht, but you seem to get what you pay for. There is a fair selection of soups, salads, starters, pasta’s and pizzas. There are even several stews, fish entrees and grilled meat entrees, but there is little focus on creating exciting and high quality dishes that complement the vast wine menu. Another problem that re-asserts itself is the lack of wine knowledge of the staff. It inherently is a problem if the staff is unfamiliar with the products they sell and can offer no insight, knowledge or make recommendations. While the food is acceptable, it is nothing special, there is a lack of “creativity and attention to quality” in the food served. For instance, the bread served was stale, the cuts of meat used are less than choice, and pasta and pizza crusts were frozen and not made fresh. The exceptions were the salads and deli meats and cheeses which where rather nice, and complemented the wines quite well. Starter’s that were ordered during the visit included the Grilled Vegetable salad (160Bht) and Cheese Platter (290Bht) both of which were excellent. Entrees included the 200gm Australian Beef Sirloin Steak (290Bht) served with potato fries, ratatouille, baked tomato, eggplant & zucchini and the Salmon Ravioli (180Bht) made with spinach and ricotta. While the ravioli was flavorful and swimming in nice cream sauce, and the steak was tender and well seasoned, the cut of the meat was poor and full of gristle and in-edible in places. The plating was un-interesting; with everything the same colour on the plate (the chef must not realize that we eat first with our eyes). The vegetables on the plate did not complement the meat at all and left you wondering why the chef even had them on the plate. For dessert the Chocolate Brownie (80Bht) was ordered. It was quite a large portion and was very nice…it was dense, flakey on top, not too sweet, it was everything you would expect in a good brownie, but there was no thought to plating as it was un-ceremoniously served cold on a plate. It would have been so much better if it had been heated up and served with some ice cream and chocolate sauce and perhaps a cherry and some mint for colour.
Overall the Wine Connection Deli & Bistro are worth visiting. There is no better deal in town on good quality imported wines, and no where else that you can sit and enjoy such reasonably priced ,good quality wines by the glass, in a comfortable and relaxing , air-conditioned setting. While the restaurant itself is not going to get any awards for their food or service, it does fill a real need in Bangkok for those who are curious about wine and for those who are real wine enthusiasts. More K-Village Wine Connection Deli & Bistro @ K-Village Reviews