Grapes expectations - The making of a top Munich wine bar

The Grapes team. Photo courtesy of Grapes weinbar.
Sorrel Moseley-Williams
Published 30-May-2024

A comprehensive wine bible blended with a relaxed vibe that lets guests feel as if they were enjoying a glass of something delicious in their own living room. That was the secret to Munich’s Grapes Weinbar taking home three coveted gold stars including the Grand Prix 2024 for Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH).

In the first such regional awards, hosted at Burgtheater’s Vestibul restaurant in Vienna on 25 May, despite offering up a list that gives equal billing to Champagne as well as international sparkling wines such as Sekt and Pét-Nat, a section dedicated to Asian vintages and a highly comprehensive natural wine section, Munich-based Grapes Weinbar takes the pretension out of wine, according to operations director Bernd Großschädl.

“We want to be a space where people can drink and talk about wine in a cosy atmosphere,” he says, “and it doesn't matter if they are new to this world or already very passionate about it.

Bernd Großschädl winning the Grand Prix in Vienna, with hosts, jury and partners. Photo Anna Stöcher.

“At Grapes, we see people as friends rather than guests and try to make them feel as if they are in their living room. The extensive wine list means we have a lot of options to make them feel happy and we always look for the best solution. And if they want to go on an adventure and discover varieties they’ve never heard of, we’re happy to guide them through those new waters.”

Opening in December 2016 in a prime location in Old Town Munich, Grapes has long captured the imagination of Star Wine List’s demanding jury members. The bar first caught their collective eye in 2021, when it won the Best Austrian List in Germany that year, as well as silver medallist runner-up in Best International Austrian Wine List that same year. Since he started leading the five-strong service team in 2022, Großschädl and co have continued to put the Munich-based bar on the map – and it’s paid off.

The whole team contributes

“I see it as our responsibility to show guests something new,” he says. “I love to recommend wines that bring guests out of their comfort zones. In Munich everybody drinks Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Chardonnay and other ‘common’ grape varieties so to show something new, my go-to wines would be single-vineyard Xarel-los from Catalunya or Furmint wines.” Other ‘curiosities’ include vintages from Lebanon, Croatia, Turkey and Switzerland.

The whole team contributes to choosing Grapes’ vast selection and that is part of the success story, according to Großschädl, because everyone is passionate about wine: some members are distributors. As for service, the operations director shares three rules of thumb: “Our guests’ tastes in wine are always more important than ours. We want people to feel like they are at home, which is only possible if we treat them like friends and make them feel appreciated. We undertake the best service possible in the most casual way, starting from the guest entering the bar until the moment they leave.”

Grapes Weinbar. Photo courtesy of Grapes.

The collaborative effort has been noted, according to jury member Manu Rosier. “This wine list has grown over the years into a very exciting, well-presented, well-curated and considered list. This [Grand Prix 2024] prize is the result of hard work paying off,” he said. Grapes also picked up two further gold stars for its Best Long List of the Year Germany 2024 as well as Sparkling Wine List of the Year Germany 2024, presented by Nyetimber. Other jury members included Heidi Mäkinen MW, Véronique Rivest and Reeze Choi.

A true aficionado who found his passion for wine while at boarding school, stealthily sharing midnight sips with a roommate from a winemaking family, today Großschädl extends his knowledge by enjoying tipples at other local bars.

“My favourite wine spots in Munich are Sticks & Stones, Waltz and Blaue Libelle. In Berlin I really want to go to Freundschaft, as I still haven’t been there. But I think the place matters less, as long as you enjoy the drinks in good company,” he says.

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