It’s a good time to be a wine lover in Singapore. Whether you’re an ardent fan of established Old World estates, or an adventurous imbiber of luscious lo-fi labels, you’ll easily be able to find your tribe in today’s inclusive climate.
Treading the middle ground of both extremes well is Bar Uva (‘uva’ means ‘grape’ in Spanish), a wine and grill venue that allows both experienced and fledgeling appreciators to have a comfortable place to call port should they feel the need to slake their thirst for good vino.
A new venture, it is actually set up by the same folks behind local stalwarts Nutmeg & Clove and Tess Bar & Kitchen, which are both popular haunts best known for their cocktails.
They’ve enlisted the help of industry veteran Chris Kwek to come onboard as their Wine Program Consultant. He fills the wine list with a selection that spans Old and New Worlds (including viticultures from China and Lebanon), styles ranging from still to sparkling to natural, yet remains largely French-leaning.
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The list is substantial, and seeks to give guests the luxury of enjoying the style they want and not be forced into a specific category. Says Kwek: “There have been too many rules and wrong perceptions of wines and we want to change that!”
“Wines should be enjoyed and not be complicated. We also believe that there should be space for all types of wines under one roof and consumers should not be made to choose where to go on days they feel like having both natural wines and traditional wines,” he adds.
Channeling that ethos, the wine menu begins with a varietal chart, placing specific grapes on a scale from light to full bodied for easy reference. It’s a simple way for beginners to get a grasp of what they’re in the mood for. And for aficionados, an instant glimpse of what Bar Uva’s cellar might hold.
Throughout, the menu offers poignant tips at specific junctures. Reds that are recommended to be decanted are noted with an asterisk, with a small note explaining what decanting does to improve the drinking experience. These explainers are useful for making the wine list accessible to all levels.
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House wines by the glass (S$12-16), especially during Happy Hour (from opening till 6.30pm daily), offer enough value and variety for a casual session. But we’d definitely peruse the full wine list for a choice pick.
Get the Domaine Du Chardonnay Petit Chablis (S$80) for a bright and citrusy start. Or try the rustic De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault (S$85) from Chile for a great sipper worth pondering over. The latter is an inoffensive natural wine that will likely please traditional oenophiles too.
A surprisingly good pairing came in the form of the Domaine Des Grand Rocs Brouilly Vieilles Vignes (S$72) with the Foie Gras Mousse (S$18). The late harvest Gamay, grown on old vines, is juicy and whiffs boldly of black and red fruits, in nice contrast to the foie gras’ richness. Its healthy acidity also cuts nicely through the creaminess of the mousse.
[Read more: Pairing our pick of wines from the Penfolds Collection 2021 with Asian food]
Speaking of food, the succinct grill menu is designed to offer enough for a full dinner, but also features bites done with finesse. Small plates of Tiger Prawns (S$24) with ‘nduja and capsicum make for a good savoury nibble, while the Squid Ink Spaghetti (S$41) topped with generous chunks of King Crab is large enough for two to share.
To pair those dishes with the right vino, just ask Kwek himself, or any of the staff who are trained to offer a suggestion or two. Eventually, he intends to form a wine menu comprising more than 150 labels, with most of them imported directly themselves.
In many ways, Bar Uva provides a much-needed anti-snob jab at both sides of the wine spectrum. Neither the minimal intervention producers nor the established winemakers should be seen as better than the other. It’s simply about enjoying the wine you love.
Bar Uva is located at 24 Purvis Street, Singapore 188601.
About the Author
Dannon Har is the Managing Editor of Spill. Discovering his innate gift for drinking only at a ripe age, he spares no time trying to find more delicious drops to imbibe during his time on Earth. When he’s not minding every detail at Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations and sharing them with folks that visit his home bar.