N’Ombra de Vin
The Milanese district of Brera would have been a very different place had Cristiano Cora been born with an ordinary palate. Luckily for Milan, Cora can tell a French from an Italian grape at 20 paces. This allowed him to turn his passionate attentions, and lashings of wine expertise, to taking over his father’s wine shop, N’Ombra de Vin, when the time came. And when it did, he didn’t just revolutionise the place, he democratised it. Previously the haunt of the Milanese upper crust, today the clientele are younger, hipper, and appreciate the virtues of a good DJ set. The serious oenophiles can still be found, too, not least because the wine cellar here remains several thousand bottles strong.
Indeed, today it’s a multi-functional space; at one and the same time a wine bar and shop, gourmet bistro, and late-night live music venue. You can pull up a chair and settle in for hours, sipping extraordinary vintages in amidst the solid stone columns and gazing out at the walls of bottles that surround you. There’s a reason that N’Ombra de Vin is so atmospheric, after all it’s housed within the structure of a 15th-century monastic refectory. And its cellars have played host to Napoleon’s troops and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Picking the perfect bottle would be a gargantuan task from a cellar this size, even if you really knew your wine. But thankfully the talented sommelier is on hand to guide you. They can also help you pair it with the food menu. From plates piled high with rosy pink rounds of salumi misti and small, juicy towers of salmon tartare, to octopus salad and cheeseburgers, there’s a delicious amount of choice. You’re as likely to find suited types enjoying a bistro lunch at N’Ombra de Vin, as groups of friends indulging in an aperitif, digestif, or just nodding along to the beat of the live music.