Enotecas - exactly how do these work?

Sep 28th, 2005, 06:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 196
Enotecas - exactly how do these work?

DH and I will be traveling inTuscany/Umbria (around Montepulciano with trips to Orvieto and Assisi, then around San Gimignano, and finally Florence) in November and are hoping to do some wine tasting. I read a post on here from Rex suggesting that, rather than hopping from winery to winery, sit down and enjoy an enoteca instead. I have several questions about enotecas, having never been to one. So could someone please give me a brief course in Enotecas: 101?

1. How do you locate them if you're just wandering the streets? Will "enoteca" be on their sign?

2. When, generally, are they open (Do they participate in the afternoon siesta? Are they closed on Sundays, in general? Open later at night - after dinner?)

3. In general, how do they work? Could someone walk me through the process? (Are we sitting at a table? What do you order and how? How much educating is done - we know VERY LITTLE about wine? And are we in trouble if we don't speak Italian?)

4. Will some offer tastings of other things - olive oil? honey? cheese? balsamic?

5. Is there pressure to purchase? We're not big wine drinkers so likely won't come home with bottles and bottles of wine. Maybe two or three.

6. Is this a good place to go to have a leisurely drink before dinner? Or would a bar be better?

Thank you all for your assistance!
jrchapma is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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An enoteca is basically a wine store that will usually carry olive oil as well. In answer to your questions...
1. yes
2. Generally an enoteca will be open or closed at the same time as other shops
3. They all work differently. Some may have a charge for tasting, others may not. If the store is not crowded you can generally talk to the staff or owner and tell them what wines you enjoy and they will likely recommend wines to you and ask if you want to taste them as well as also tasting olive oils.
4. yes
5. Obviously they would like you to buy but I have not experienced high pressure sales.
6. An enoteca is not a bar. You aren't going to go there for a before dinner drink.
buongiorno is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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Well,I guess I have a lot to learn.I would describe an enoteca as a wine bar,perfect for a drink before dinner.
massagediva is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 07:55 AM
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Enoteca is a wine shop, even if nowadays in Italy the enoteche (plural) sell all sorts of other products: oil, home made jams, chocolate, pasta, home made biscotti. In the area where I used to live (Genzano, in the Castelli Romani area) there were a couple of places that used the name enoteca associated to ristorante (ristorante/enoteca), meaning that the place was a restaurant/trattoria/wine bar/wine shop at the same time, so the term sometimes is used for a "multi-task" place, like this in Genzano: http://www.lasurbina.it/Untitledframeset-2.htm
BATUFFOLINA is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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great question jrchapma...

Are you given 1 oz like you would be at a winery tasting in the US? Or are you given a glass? Multiple of the same varietal (grape type)? Or taste across the board? Does it depend on the enoteca?

I have been to quite a few wineries in the NY and would not treat the majority like a bar to have a drink in.
travelphile is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 08:49 AM
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For Massagediva, by definition, an enoteca can also be a wine bar but for the most part the ones I've seen are solely wine stores.
buongiorno is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 01:56 PM
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While in Orvieto in April, we tried to do some tasting. The winery that Rick Steve's talks about is not within walking distance. The woman at the IT told us about several places in town to "taste".

The first place we went was definately a restaurant and they offered tasting by the glass. We would have been plowed! I would have loved to spend a few hours with the owner though because he was VERY knowledgeable. We stayed and each order a different glass of wine to try. They had an awesome terrace with great views.

We did find a few shops in town that offered what we call tasting in the US. Basically a shot-glass worth of wine. That's where we purchased wine.
motor_city_girl is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 04:31 PM
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I "push" the notion of going to an enoteca as the preferred place to taste and buy wine, and I mean a wine store, though several good memories are of places that had a small (to... in one case, rather good sized) "bar". I have seen three different examples of food service... none, a few minimal finger snacks, some real appetizer-type items available for order.

A common theme (though maybe not each one I have visited) was the availability of about 4-8 bottles of wine opened for the day, and available for tasting. I have seen tastes as little as a 15 mL plastic cup (free) to a half-filled nice wine glass (charge a $1 or 2).

But the best part of the experience was interaction with the proprietor (typically, in 50-50, his fractured English, my fractured Italian), seeking out bottles... more like "this", less like "that". And that led to selecting one bottle (at a time), opening it to taste (and yes, that meant buying it), doing some comparative tasting (to the other choices aready open), and then moving on (similar directin, or different direction). I typicaly left with about 6 unopened bottles (3 each of 2 labels, or some variation on that), plus the opened, sampled bottles.

Wonderful memories, wonderful purchases. Rome, Venice, Verona, Salzburg.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Sep 29th, 2005, 06:29 AM
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Thank you all for replying!

motor - do you remember the name or location of the places you visited in Orvieto? That town is on our list for a day trip.

So if we want to have a seat, waste a couple of hours enjoying a few glasses of wine, or if we want to have a quick drink before dinner, what type of establishment(s) do we need to visit? Sorry for my confusion, but I don't want to make a mistake and offend any proprietors.
jrchapma is offline  
Sep 29th, 2005, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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The place where we sat with the terrace is in the far corner of the square with the Duomo. If you are facing the front of the Duomo, it is in the far left corner towards the rear of the Duomo. Sorry, I can't remember the name.

The stores where we tasted were all on the main drag through the center of town. I also highly recommend lunch at I Sette Consoli in town!
motor_city_girl is offline  

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