Tanini Agapi Mou may be one of the most ambitious wine bars in Athens’s growing wine scene. But nothing about it feels pretentious.
Plants hang from the ceiling and windows, growing wildly and draping the store in green. The furniture is simple, with tables crafted by independent producers out of highly-sustainable birchwood. The music that fills the room is a mix that spans genres, but is a pleasant background sound to the clinking of glasses. The employees don’t wear uniforms, and when they talk about the menu, their enthusiasm is real.
This is because Tanini Agapi Mou, which means “Tannins My Love” in Greek, is really about just that – a deep love of wine, one that eschews any fancy sommelier tendencies. George Kitis, part of the team at Tanini, explains that the store is really just an amalgamation of everything they love the most: good music, plants that envelop the tables and interesting wines.
George says that they get as many bottles as possible directly from the winemakers: “Out of 100, 65 come directly from the winemaker…we don’t want to be a middleman in the process.” And this means that they end up forging particularly strong connections with winemakers. Their wine list stars some rare varieties, including Chlori and Mavropatrino. In fact, the next iteration of the cellar will stock 10 very rare grapes, George says.
The wine menu at Tanini could be considered intimidating at first glance, but the system is simple. It’s a giant slab of plastic, handed to you with a ruler for easier reading, because the menu is really a tome of information spread out across 15 columns. Each wine is numbered, 1 to 100, which is followed by the name of the bottle and the name of the winery, then the region from which it comes. Next, there’s a set of five columns in different colors that indicate if your chosen wine is organic, skin-contact, biodynamic, sulfite-free, aged in amphoras and vegan. And finally, it breaks everything down by price.
This is where Tanini stands out: They currently offer 93 out of their 100 listed bottles by the glass, which gives visitors the chance to pick from almost a hundred different Greek bottles. It’s exciting for seasoned wine drinkers, who might want to sample something expensive before purchasing a bottle, but it’s also a great opportunity for newcomers to the world of Greek wines. They can try the classic grapes – Assyrtiko, Xinomavro and more – and quickly branch out from there.
From day one, the bar’s founder, Stergios Tekeridis, also known as Super Taninos, was committed to developing a system to sell each bottle by the glass. The solution? The Coravin system, which keeps the cork intact by extracting wine through a small hole, made with a needle. The needle is attached to a pressurized tank, so when its withdrawn, the cork expands, but the extracted wine is replaced with gas, which protects the wine from oxygen. According to George, it was a labor of love for Stergios: “He tried for months,” he explains, finally resulting in a homemade system that has essentially made the bar what it is today.
The history of the bar itself parallels the current rise of Greek wines globally. “It started as an empty bar,” jokes George, “but now it’s a main wine hub.” The bar opened on December 21, 2018, and at that time, it was just a small upstairs space with “a big glass box for the cava,” as George describes it. Now, the top remains a bar, but there is outdoor seating nestled among banana plants and basking in the glow of humming neon signs, and the cava (wine cellar) sits in the basement, which doubles as a performance space with a piano (performances always start with a pianist – the roster expands depending on who the musician decides to bring with them on a given night). The cava features a wall studded with 1,176 holes to hold reserve bottles, backlit with a changing light display that ripples with new colors under the bottles. The pink sign at the front of the bar has been its hallmark from day one – it appears in all the photos, and makes the small space recognizable anywhere.
The bar has always focused on Greek labels, but, as George says, “it used to be more commercial, with some natural and organic bottles.” But as Stergios changed the menu every few months, he started to add more natural wines, removing international grapes in favor of the local varietals. “Obviously we don’t reject commercial producers,” says George, “but it’s a different school.”
Because of the global popularity of natural wines, the bar is often full of tourists, but as natural wines become more popular in Greece – and as Greek wines continue their climb globally – the clientele has become more broad. And so has Tanini’s capacity and offerings. Live events and themed wine tastings have taken off, and Tanini’s team has been getting involved in some exciting new projects. On November 6, Tanini Agapi Mou organized a natural wine event called Fysika Fysika up north in Thessaloniki. It featured 38 winemakers from around the country and focused on natural wines, further raising the profile within Greece. The cellar is also starting to age a few great bottles that have a very small production. For instance, George explains, if they have the last bottles from a certain producer’s 2019 yield, they will store a few to age them in their cellar, and continuously add to this batch of special vintages.
And finally, the biggest news of all: The Tanini team is working to produce their own wine for the bar. A 2021 harvest was slated to hit the market in 2023. The wine bar collaborated with a Greek winemaker to develop a 100 percent orange Assyrtiko aged in amphora, with only 300 bottles produced.
It feels like just the beginning for a bar with big ambition, but it all traces back to the team’s mentality, the root of why people keep coming to Tanini. “What we suggest is a more minimal, friendly, anti-snob way to taste wines. We’re not here to show you how good we are – if you like wine, come here; if you don’t, we’re here to help,” says George. “We just love wine! We drink it constantly, and we’re happy to express that to people.”
This article was originally published on November 17, 2022.
- February 28, 2024 Game On
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a new recurring feature, "Game On", […] Posted in Marseille
- July 25, 2023 Liquid Assets
It was August 31, 1957, and Yiannis Dritsas, a representative of Nestlé Greece, was at […] Posted in Athens
- July 20, 2023 The Architects of Time: Instant Classic
In the last few years, a handful of new restaurants, cafes and bars have popped up in […] Posted in Athens
Published on December 05, 2023