Saturday, April 4, 2015

In Vino Veritas - San Pier Wine Bar Cafe (Mdina, Malta)

My husband and I happened upon the San Pier Wine Bar Café, tucked away in one of the ancient bastions of the city wall of Mdina, Malta during our honeymoon... and I'm so glad we did.

Entrance - photo courtesy of the San Pier Wine Bar Café Facebook Page - Used with permission
Joanna Stellini, the daughter in the Stellini family, who own and operate the place, greeted us cheerfully and plopped down what was a very reasonably priced drink list on our high-top cocktail table, as well as a food menu, just in case we felt peckish.  After reviewing the offerings on the list, we enlisted Joanna's help picking the perfect glasses of wine to enjoy before dinner.

Since we indicated we would like to try a local offering, she recommended a delicious Maltese red. Aptly named Medina, the young 2013 blend (Syrah, Carignan and Grenache) usually popular in the French Languedoc region and in Catalonia in Spain (where Grenache is, of course, known as Garnacha...those pesky Spanish with their special Spanish grape names!) is made by the Emmanuel Delicata Family winery. It was a beautiful blend of fruit, spice and was a nice medium-bodied wine to drink on its own. It was also a really great price.

Pardon my crappy iPhone pic, please.
After chatting with Joanna a bit, we learned the fascinating history of the two-story premises, from its time 800 years ago as a granary (storage for grain) when it was built by the knights of Malta, to its later use as a coach house, a two-year stint as a victory kitchen, until its recent opening as the San Pier Wine Bar Café.  The place is named for the chapel across the way, St. Peter in Chains, that we rebuilt in 1575.

Downstairs - we sat at the high-top on the right.
Photo courtesy of the San Pier Wine Bar Café Facebook Page - Used with permission
A wonderful surprise was that we were given a complimentary artisanal cheese and cured meat platter to share, a congratulatory gesture from the Stellini family since we had mentioned that we were on our honeymoon.  You could just tell that the owners really care about making their guests' experiences great.

After chatting some more, John (Joanna's brother) joined us before heading out to meet friends and go to Paceville (the nightlife area very close to our hotel in St. Julians) that night, and we met their parents, Joseph and Josianne. The whole family were so lovely, and it was truly a family business. The cafe offers a variety of food, from lighter fare and sharing plates to full dinner, with options for vegetarians, celiacs and vegans. Although their main draw (in my opinion) is their reasonably-priced, varied wine list, they also feature domestic and imported beers and distilled spirits. There are tables and chairs downstairs and the upstairs loft has some couches and a lounge area to rest your weary traveling body while you sip on some local wines.

Upstairs - photo courtesy of the San Pier Wine Bar Café Facebook Page - Used with permission
We regretfully bid the Stellinis adieu to go to Medina Restaurant and catch our dinner reservation on time.  However, after dinner (which was very nice), although we were stuffed, we somehow found our way back through the haunted maze of Mdina to the San Pier for a nightcap (digestifs this time). Upon our return, they surprised us with a fresh fruit cup in an edible pastry as "dessert". So sweet!

By the time we left it was nearly midnight and the city was completely deserted. Then, Joanna offered to help us get a ride home - which was completely above and beyond the call of duty.  She walked us to the area in front of the main gate and talked a cab driver who was waiting for another couple to drive us back "home" also, and after hugs and probably an annoying amount of "thank you"s from us, we were on our way back to our hotel, safe and sound and not stranded in Mdina!

San Pier Wine Bar Café is a great place to relax and regroup after a long day of sightseeing or even to grab a quick bite in the afternoon before you head back out to enjoy all that Malta has to offer.

Visit San Pier Wine Bar Café, open daily from 10:30am until late:
+356 2145 2415

[This is not a sponsored post and all of the views expressed are my own. All I want is for travelers who visit Mdina to have as great of an experience as we did!]

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