Long before South Africa started producing really good craft beers and world-class craft gins, there was wine. Really good wine. If anything South Africa now produces more truly excellent wines than ever before. And yet still despite Joburgers consuming more wine than almost the entire population of the Western Cape region where it is produced, this city has precious few fully-fledged wine bars dedicated to its enjoyment.
Often viewed as an accompaniment to dinner or something which just comes in one of three colours and preferably served by the quarter-litre, until recently Joburg’s bar scene hadn’t quite managed to corner the oenophile’s market. Slowly but surely however this trend is changing and the arrival of Cape Town’s Publik in the city might just be that tipping point moment we've been waiting for.
Occupying a discrete slice of Rosebank’s trendy Park Corner, this enticing little wine bar bears a striking resemblance to its Cape Town sister (albeit minus the Table Mountain views of course). A no-fuss straight-up wine bar with a calming, almost Scandinavian sense of minimalist style, Publik specialises in boutique wines that you are highly unlikely to find in the local shop, plus the option of cheese and charcuterie to make it go down even more nicely.
Facing out onto the street (the petite streetside bench is a coveted spot) the atmosphere is intimate, casual and distinctly urban. Orders are taken at the bar, where you’ll most likely be enjoying your wine too as there are only a handful of other chairs to park yourself on.
Publik’s warm and unpretentious atmosphere stems largely from the team behind the bar. Not out to embarrass or befuddle guests with high brow talk of terroirs and tasting notes, they are wine drinkers who genuinely know what they are talking about and have a knack for sensing what you might enjoy. And if you do like to talk wine on the other hand, you’ll quickly feel right at home. There’s even the option of guided wine tastings (five wines for R200), a major plus for those always on the hunt for the next great bottle.
There are usually a very limited number of wines available by the glass, so if you are here with friends we recommend buying a bottle. The menu changes regularly and if somehow you ended up in a wine bar but want to drink G&T or craft beer you still have options.
Just make sure to arrive early if you are dropping by on weekend evenings, it gets busy quickly.