We had the pleasure of visiting Veeno, a quaint little Italian café tucked away on a back street in Manchester. The brand started 3 years ago with two Italian guys’ passion for Spuntini* and wine, and noticed that there was nowhere in Manchester offering the same thing. Veeno now has 14 stores across the UK, with a new one opening in Kingston upon Thames.
The café offers a variety of wine, prosecco, beer, small nibbles and light bites. They have various wine tasting packages perfect for meeting up with friends and trying out new delights. You can also buy their wines to take home with you.
The wine comes from their own family vineyard in Sicily so you can imagine how good it tastes! They beautifully pair the food with their wine and is a taste sensation never experienced before.
We arrived at Veeno and instantly there was a great busy buzz around the place, we walked to the counter where we were greeted by Stephen who was extremely welcoming and showed us to our table. The tables are a mixture of wine barrels with glass tops, long banqueting tables for parties, and intimate two to four seaters.
He offered us a glass of prosecco to start with, it was delicious – not too fizzy or sweet served chilled in an elegantly thin champagne flute.
He left us to settle and sip our prosecco, before coming over with our sharing platter. We opted for the £26.50 wine tasting menu which included a taster of 2 white wines, 1 rose, 2 red and 1 dessert wine, plus a huge sharing platter full of tasty cured meats, cheeses, breads, olives, tomatoes, dip AND tiramisu. Stephen explained what everything was and what it went well with.
We were given a few minutes to chat amongst ourselves whilst Stephen prepared our first wine to taste.
At this point it would have been nice to be told that we could dig in but save a little of each food to taste with the appropriate wine. Unfortunately we are too polite and we sat looking at each other wondering when we could start!
Stephen came over with our first wine and explained how to check, taste and pair the wine. It was really quite interesting and felt that we could learn a thing or two here.
Our first wine was a dry white ‘Grillo’ the classic Sicilian white wine, served with mozzarella. The creamy mozzarella was perfectly paired with this dry white wine, definitely one of my favourites.
The second white wine was the ‘Zibibbo’ which had been beautifully developed by the owners dad for his wife as a present called ‘the wine of love’. The story instantly had us interested. It was beautifully floral and fruity, with a nice little spice at the end. This wine was paired with the Pecorino, a hard Italian cheese similar in texture and taste to Parmigiano.
They only produce one rosé on their family vineyard, so we knew it was going to be special. The ‘Syrah’ grapes gave it an underlying sweetness to it whilst still being fairly dry. We tried this with the smoked Italian ham, which again was just delicious.
Now these were the wines we had been waiting for. Having been brought up on sweet cheap rose, and finally developing my taste for dry white and rose, I have recently turned to red as my new go to. I am still currently tasting my way through all of the various different types to pin point my favourite and I am yet to discover it.
Our first red wine was made from ‘Perricone’ grapes and is developed in stainless steel all the way through, rather than the traditional wooden barrel. We could taste liquorice and berries coming through as we munched on Bresaola, a cured Italian beef. Absolutely delicious, surely the next red couldn’t top this!
The second red was a ‘Reserva’* and had been left to develop in an oak barrel for 10 months and then left to age in the bottle for 3-6 months. The flavours that came through were of prunes, berries, and surprisingly, cocoa. We had been waiting all evening to try the Gorgonzola cheese, which is a Italian ‘veined’ blue cheese. It had melted slightly on the board and the saltiness and creaminess were just delicious with the Reserva.
After a super casual and tasty evening we were about to leave when Stephen mentioned we still had dessert to come!
He brought over a large wedge of Tiramisu which was made on premises from the owners Grandparents family recipe. This was served with the dessert wine, made from the same grape as the first wine we tried (Grillo), but it had such different flavours. It was sweet, and tasted like cinnamon and honey.
The food was very authentic and we loved the accompaniments of Italian olive oil and balsamic (the olive oil was just AMAZING), small olives but with a very big flavour and lots of tasty breads and traditional breadsticks. I have had focaccia in the past and found it to be too greasy or soft, this was just served perfectly – crisp on the crust and super soft in the middle – perfect for dipping into olive oil.
The venue was very busy, having worked in hospitality for a number of years we know how hard it can be when you’re super busy, we understand that sometimes the service may be slower. It was a nice casual atmosphere, but at times we did wonder why the other staff are not able to do more and conduct the wine tastings alongside Stephen.
Having said that, Stephen was just amazing and we couldn’t fault him, he was so genuine and lovely. You could see by how he interacted with other guests and that people loved coming here not only to try the wines but for the experience he created alongside it and his knowledge of wines.
I would definitely recommend this place to my family and friends, I’d ask them to expect a leisurely and casual evening with plenty of laughs, tasty nibbles and gorgeous wines. If you would like to try an evening of wine tasting, you can book here.
Spuntini* the Italian version of Spanish tapas and casual dining
Reserva* Stephen explained that in order for a wine to be a ‘Reserva’ it must be aged for an extended period of time.
Have you ever been wine tasting?