Veni, Vidi, Veci, Vino?
Less than a decade ago, if visitors wanted to sip some fine wine in Shanghai, they had to head over to a high-end joint venture hotel restaurant and pay some rather exorbitant prices for a limited selection of foreign varietals. Happily for the wine connoisseur in the last few years, wine bars and shops have sprouted in Shanghai like grapes on a Napa vine, and many restaurants now pride themselves on stocking a wide variety of international brands. Foreign wineries look at Shanghai as a burgeoning market, with the result that many suppliers have entered the Chinese market in recent years. For those interested in sampling more local fare, the Chinese wine industry is still relatively young, but is quickly learning and growing from its joint ventures (successful or not) with foreign partners. Brands like Changyu (China's largest wine company), Dragon Seal, Hua Dong, Great Wall, and Dynasty are the better-known Chinese vintners, but quality still varies wildly, and foreigners often find Chinese wines to be more vapid than what they are used to back home. If you fancy a pre- or post-prandial glass (or bottle), the following wine bars and restaurants will serve you well. Prices are generally higher than what you might pay at home for a similar bottle (due partly to high import duties), but outlets often have wine-tastings and special deals, especially when introducing new wines.
Enoteca (Anfu Lu 53-57, east of Wulumuqi Lu, Xuhui; tel. 021/5404-0050; www.enoteca.com.cn; daily 10am-midnight). Pleasant, welcoming place in the French Concession serving a good selection of affordable old- and new-world wines with delicious tapas and sandwiches. A second branch has opened right next to Xintiandi (Taicang Lu 58, west of Jinan Lu, Luwan; tel. 021/5306-3400).
Just Grapes (Dagu Lu 462, Jing An; tel. 021/3311-3205; www.justgrapes.cn; daily 10:30am-10:30pm). This wine shop labels its large selection of international wines (around 400 at last count) according to the wine's general characteristics and its predominant flavors, instead of by country or region, all to help demystify the wine-buying experience. There is a connecting wine lounge and restaurant that serves only a few wines by the glass.
Napa Wine Bar and Kitchen (Jiangyin Lu 57, near Huangpi Lu, Huangpu; tel. 021/6318-0057; www.napawinebarandkitchen.com; daily 6pm-midnight). Located in a restored Tudor mansion near People's Square with a 40-seat wine bar, large dining room, and outdoor area, this classy outfit has a wine list with over 700 labels, paired with a tasty menu of wine-inspired dishes. In general, you get decent value for your money and knowledgeable and helpful advice if needed.
Coffee, Tea & Something Else
The number of Western-style cafes and coffee bars that have sprouted in Shanghai in the last few years can almost make you forget that the Chinese have traditionally been tea drinkers. You can credit (or blame) Starbucks for the java jolt, but if you are in need of a caffeine fix, consider branching out and spreading the wealth a little. The following is a list of unusual local teahouses and cafes that offer much more than your average cup of overpriced joe:
Old China Hand Reading Room (Shaoxing Lu 27, by Shanxi Nan Lu, Xuhui; tel. 021/6473-2526; daily 10am-midnight). The most charming coffeehouse in town, it has Qing Dynasty furniture, old manual typewriters, and beautiful photographs taken by owner and photographer Deke Erh. Sip your tea, coffee, or fruit juice while browsing through hundreds of old and new books and magazines.
Old Film Cafe (Duolun Lu 123, near Sichuan Bei Lu, Hongkou; tel. 021/5696-4763; daily 10am-1am). A bit out of the way up by the Duolun Lu Culture Street, but here is a rare opportunity for film lovers to see some Chinese and Russian films dating back to the 1920s. Order a cup of tea, select a flick, and settle in for some culture with your caffeine.
Wagas (Huaihai Zhong Lu 300, Hong Kong New World, B107, Luwan; tel. 021/6335-3739; daily 9:30am-9pm). Who needs Starbucks when you can have Italian illy brand coffee? Wagas serves it straight up, with lounge chairs, a mellow soundtrack, Wi-Fi, gourmet panini, and a lot of healthy menu items like smoothies. There's another branch at Nanjing Xi Lu 1168, CITIC Square, LG12A (tel. 021/5292-5228).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.