Palette Vino in Beijing: Cozy confines, good wines, superb prices

John Gai of Palette Vino

By Jim Boyce

As I am a fan of the Palette Wines portfolio and of enjoying a few bottles with friends in cozy hutong surroundings, the combination of the two is bound to be a winner. Since writing last October about the Dongsishitiao branch of Palette Vino, in Beijing, I have returned four times to enjoy the reasonably priced wines and relaxed atmosphere.

Palette Vino scores on several fronts. The prices are slightly above retail and thus about as low as you can find in the city, with wines on the by-the-glass menu from RMB30 and many of the several hundred bottles on offer for less than RMB200. The decor is tasteful and the atmosphere is relaxed, with the seating options including a lounge up front, a bar in back, and a courtyard separating the two (the rooftop is not yet open, but has great potential). And while I did not eat there last night, my previous experiences, and those of several readers, have been generally good. Owner John Gai describes the food as “bistro style“, with a menu that covers everything from char-grilled lamb, steak, and swordfish to a selection of salads and desserts.

Last night, our party of three sampled some of the dozen or so items on the by-the-glass menu, including an Italian Nero d’Avola (RMB40). We then tucked away two bottles, including a South African Pinotage rose (RMB150; a bit nondescript) and an Australian Shiraz (RMB150; good quality given the price), from among the several hundred on offer.

Good wine selection, good atmosphere, good times…

And for those seeking a quick drink after Palette Vino closes, the chuar shop next door offers tasty lamb kebabs and cheap Yanjing.

Note: For more about John Gai, see this interview.

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