Set in a secluded attic space above the main old town shopping street, you will only find Veinipööning (‘wine attic’) if you know it’s there. There is no sign outside and you will have to walk upstairs past a glitzy casino and an Estonian tourist restaurant before reaching this mecca of quiet vinophiles and romantic corners.
August Alop, the amiable Estonian owner, is a veteran of the business – he started his first wine bar at the top of the famous Viru hotel, then moved to this more discreet location in the late 1990s. Aiming for a cosy, informal atmosphere, Veinipööning achieves a laid-back, living-room quality with an esoteric, clubbish feel, growing its clientele through word of mouth and actively avoiding the tourist trade that passes under its very nose.
Consequently half of the bar’s customers are locals, the other half long-term ex-pats who know the city well. The attic can be open as late as 4am, bustling with wine-adoring couples, private receptions and customers popping in to buy a crate from the wine merchant business.