Love it or hate it, Leggs Wine Bar is one of Dublin’s most popular nocturnal haunts. The drill is all too familiar. You have enjoyed a great night out but it’s not enough. You glide past security and stumble down those cold, concrete stairs. Abandon your jacket in on the left and you enter battle. No sooner do the wonderful aromas of fast food and carpet hit you, a lovely bell-shaped glass of p*ss is thrust into your hand. It begs the question: HOW have you ended up in Leggs again?
Leggs Wine Bar. The final destination of Dublin’s partying masses every weekend. We wake up the following afternoon and promise ourselves never to darken that door again, only to end up there a short time later. How often have you seen this on Monday morning and groaned?
And how we curse the reason for our woeful hangovers the next day: the wine. Vinegar, p*ss, plonk, we’ve heard it all. Some of us have tried the red, known to be served in classy Champagne flutes. We’ve dabbled in Rosé, even ventured into the Sparkling/Champagne section. But we’re only fooling ourselves; the next day is a write-off.
So is Leggs wine that bad? Or could it be that a rake of pints, shots, naggins, jagerbombs or whatever-your-having, is not the ideal preparation for drinking any wine, whether its Gevrey-Chambertin or Goon. I decided to investigate; a quick reconnaissance mission to Leeson Street on a busy Friday night would suffice. Here are my findings.
The house wine selection is probably what most of us opt straight for, and stump up 36 euros for the pleasure. You may be surprised to discover that the red is actually quite good. I came across it a few years ago while working in a wine store, and it was popular at €11/12 per bottle. The Chateau La Roca is a Syrah/Grenache blend from the south of France. It’s a house wine (at €24) at the nearby Schoolhouse Hotel restaurant who describe it as “A really cracking wine, offering superb value. A Schoolhouse favourite”. High praise indeed for a Leggs wine. If I was really picky it would benefit from a succulent joint of roast beef or lamb to offset the slight dryness of the wine. Sadly in Leggs a glass of Ballygowan, a snip at 9 (yes, NINE) euro, will have to do.
I don’t know much about the house white, a Sauvignon Blanc, other than it can be bought from Irish suppliers for as little as €7.08 a bottle (Ex-VAT), which represents a tidy profit for the owners. It is described as “an elegant, fresh and zingy sauvignon blanc with perfect balance”. If only the same could be said about its drinker afterwards!
As for the house rosé, the menu vaguely states “Rose D’Anjou”. No indication of brand, house, vintage – nothing. In general these are sweetish rosés from the Anjou region in France, and as I have no idea what I’m getting myself in for, I would tend to steer clear. However some people swear by it, which is the only evidence I can offer as to its quality.
Nobilo White Cloud. Those three words should send a shudder down the spine of most regular Leggs customers. I wonder if whoever priced this wine at €39 can sleep at night because it is on sale in Sainsburys for £2.80. If you don’t fancy travelling over to the UK for an atrocious NZ Sauvignon Blanc you can pick it up in your local Tesco for €10.85.
There’s also a Semillon/Chardonnay blend from the Australian winemaker McGuigan on the menu, priced at €39. Having consulted the McGuigan website, no such wine appears to exist. It could just be a straight Chardonnay. If you’d like to try before you buy in Leggs, head down to Tesco and after parting with a meagre €6.99, you’ll walk out the proud owner of 1 bottle of McGuigan Chardonnay.
As the price goes up so does the quality of the wine. Above the €40 mark you’ve got wines from well-regarded producers such as Domaine Faiveley and E. Guigal, which perhaps makes it worthwhile to spend an extra few euro for quality. But then again, at the time of the morning, does it matter?
Over to the reds, one option is the De Gras Merlot from Chile. The menu describes it as “full rich and soft with good balance and aftertaste”. If that doesn’t sell itself the menu also notes “A good selection no matter what food”, just in case you were torn between those chicken nuggets or pizza. Equally, the Domaine Faiveley Macon Rouge is “nice with lamb chops, kidneys and grilled food”. Good to know, while in Leggs.
The Concannon Petite Sirah, at €52, may be out of your price range. But the menu tempts you with the interesting fact that “Petite Sirah is unique to California”. Well it’s not, the grape originated in the French Rhône region in the 1870s where it is known today as Durif or Petite Syrah (NOT to be confused with Syrah/Shiraz). It’s the type of fact that should go down a storm with the opposite sex.
The Porter Mill Station Cabernet Sauvignon is a reasonable bet at €36. And again above €40 there are a couple of nice Riojas, a powerful Côtes du Rhône and decent Burgundy to choose from.
The sparkling wine is totally overpriced, you shouldn’t be paying any more than 12 euro for a mediocre bottle in the shops yet they range from €55 to €65 here. Serious rip-off territory. You have a Cava, Prosecco and Sparking Rosé so the choice is balanced but very pricey. The flashier customer is catered for with a reasonable Champagne selection in Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Moet and Bollinger. The most expensive item you can waste your money on in Leggs is Dom Perignon (at a flashy €275 a pop).
The wines offered by Leggs, while crazily expensive, are by no means mediocre (with a few exceptions). If you drank a wine costing €12-15 with a meal or just casually with friends, you probably wouldn’t blame your hangover on the wine itself, more the quantity consumed. As the old adage goes; ‘Beer after wine and you’ll feel fine; wine after beer and you’ll feel queer.’ I think this logic holds true here – because of the dehydrating nature of alcohol, the more alcohol you drink, the thirstier you get, which tends to make you glug wine like it was water when you get your hands on it. Many of us are in such a state when arriving in Leggs. So until Dublin comes up with an alternative viable late-night venue, we’ll be reading that overpriced, moronic wine menu for a while to come.