If you don’t know your Chardonnays from your Zinfandels then you could do far worse than walk into a wine bar like this one in Harrogate, with an open mind and a keen palate.
A new addition to the spa town’s thriving food and drink scene, Veeno is one of only a handful of bars locally that is dedicated to wine.
Set inside a ground floor unit in the new stone-fronted Westgate House complex just up from the train station, this narrow fronted nook comes with a modern interior look of swish, moody-coloured fittings beneath ceiling-mounted spot lights.
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The atmosphere is lively on this weekend visit with the clientele of a more slightly more advanced age than other nearby drinking establishments.
It is a small space, packed with tables and many a customer enjoying sips of Italian vintages and nibbling on Italian spuntini - appetisers - of cold meat, breads and cheeses.
The dishes are available solo or in multiples and can be used to form a sharing platter. The menu promises complimentary nibbles with any drink between 5-8pm daily.
The staff are friendly despite the scene behind the bar being something of a blur and in its early weeks of opening the waiters seem eager to engage and impress.
According to the menu all of the wines - as with the food - come from Italy, and the wines from a family vineyard in Sicily. A map of Italy shown on the menu highlights where Veeno’s different wines come from.
It is easy to be over fazed in wine bars where extensive lists of drinks can be pretty intimidating and hard to fathom but it is kept simple here with seven whites and eight reds listed, one rose and small lists of prosecco, cocktails and wine cocktails.
Four rarely seen beers from Italy also make the menu.
Usefully there are accompanying notes which make recommendations for pairing the right wines with the right appertisers but in this case we ordered a white wine tasting experience, at £10 each, which featured ‘The Wine of Love’, a Zibibbo with elderflower and floral notes and a hint of fruits, the Grillo, a dry number with a wide bouquet, and the aromatic Chardonnay.
Given the reasonable price, the measures were plentiful and we were presented with all three glasses at once on paper sheets which contained information about each wine.
It was a sociable experience in a venue that hinted at the kind of lively conversational atmosphere of a wine bar in Milan or even Madrid.
More extensive wine tasting experiences are available - at £19.90 or £26.90 - both of which include five glasses of wine paired with spuntini, followed by a sweet wine and homemade Italian tiramisu.