Wine Republic Restaurant
Location: Yerevan, Armenia
Authors: Vasily Prytkov, Maria Svetova
Restaurateurs in Yerevan are fanatic about the wine culture in Armenia. Recently, many new restaurants focused on wine and everything about it have opened in the same district of Yerevan. If you decide to enjoy the views of Yerevan and Ararat from the top of the Cascade, then head down to the bottom, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cozy and hospitable Yerevan wine restaurants (and we cannot help but mention the overall exceptional service).
Our experts were particularly impressed by Wine Republic — and not just because wine is square in the spotlight here. But it’s not the «what,» it’s the «how» that matters: at Wine Republic, they use a modern approach that treats wine with an elegant respect. So if you want to try the best wine in Armenia, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for here.
Wine Republic opened in May 2015, and from its very inception was envisioned as a wine restaurant. «Before opening, we analyzed the market,» says restaurateur Arsen Oganesyan. «Wine was on the up and up back then, and the wine restaurants popping up were incredibly popular. It brought over the vodka crowd, and people changed their preferences pretty fast. The majority of them were wine bars with lighter fare, a place where people might go after eating at a restaurant. So we noticed an opening for a more food-centered wine restaurant.»
At first, people saw Wine Republic as just another wine bar, where you could drink wine and eat some cheese or other snacks. But soon people started getting a taste of their dishes, and gradually everything changed: despite a wine bottle on every table, 70-80% of sales are in the kitchen, supported by an international team of chefs.
Initially, Wine Republic had a single hall and terrace. These close quarters created a dynamic atmosphere — noise, proximity to other guests, small tables… the restaurant was an immediate success. It was always full, and the owners knew they would need to expand.
Wine Republic has lots of loyal clients who come here once or even twice a week. The menu isn’t large, and guests are always asking for new dishes. Even several additions once every 3-4 months couldn’t satisfy them. But it’s difficult to expand the menu significantly: more ingredients need to be kept fresh, and the owners wanted to stick to a single-page menu to support the cozy, unassuming and dynamic atmosphere.
This is how the owners came up with the idea of a «two-in-one» restaurant: they separated the kitchen into Asian and European cuisine, and opened another hall. The restaurant didn’t lose a smidge of its coziness, and now it could offer new dishes. The halls differ in design, but guests can order Asian or European cuisine in either of them.
At first, the emphasis was on traditional French cuisine — even the meat and steaks were cooked in the French style. The menu is European-inspired: mussels, shrimp, duck, plus starters paired with wine. «For example, we buy foie gras and make pate from it ourselves. We have roasted foie gras, plus homemade pate. Then we developed a menu with Asian cuisine,» recalls Arsen Oganesyan. Now the restaurant has a chef and a brand chef in charge of the European menu, plus invited experts that craft the Asian portion.
The brand chef of the restaurant is Pierre Hugo from France. He lives and works in France, but visits Yerevan once every three months to revamp the menu. On Armenian side, Shavarsh Ayvazyan supervises the whole operation.
For the Asian part of the menu, the restaurant invited over natives to collaborate on the project — a Thai chef, plus experts in Indonesian, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. Wine Republic is thus proud to offer Thai, Indian, and Chinese dishes. There is also a specialist from Vietnam who monitors how the Vietnamese dishes are prepared.
As for vegetarians, both the European and Asian menu have wonderful meat-free options. In the Asian menu, guests can also find gluten-free dishes.
Quite unsurprisingly, the restaurant does not have a wine list per se. It offers around 600 types of wine, so no list would ever be able to hold them all, especially since the restaurant regularly adds to its range. This is also part of the atmosphere: if you want wine, you won’t have to stare at a book — instead, you’ll be shown and told about what’s offered.
Another amazing aspect of this restaurant is its climate-controlled wine cellar. It is also a proponent of the Wine By Glass method, which helps keep opened wine fresh for a long period of time. They are certainly not stingy about professionalism here!
The price of wine is almost the same as in a more upscale supermarket, which is worth noting, as the profit margin isn’t as big as in Russia. But we should also note that this is the typical business model for many wine bars in Yerevan.
The restaurant is owned by four partners, and they make their schedule so at least one of them is present at all times. Artyom Khachatchyan is in charge of the wine selection. He is a professional sommelier, and considered one of the top experts in Armenia. In addition to his expansive theoretic base, he is also an expert in the wine business, so he always finds the right wine for the restaurant. When he isn’t there, the other staff assist guests.
However, keep in mind that Wine Republic is a democratic casual restaurant rather than a traditional wine bar. It is a small restaurant where the staff does not boast the best sommeliers in the world. Sometimes they may need to consult someone before recommending something.
The Wine Republic team has a new fish restaurant project in progress, and are also thinking of expanding to Tbilisi. «There is wine in all of our projects, that’s just our style,» the owners say.
2 Tamanyana St., Yerevan
+374 55 001100
Working hours: 12:00 pm–12:00 am