Istina in Russian means ‘truth’. According to the Latin saying — “in vino veritas” — in wine there is truth. Hence the name of this wine bar. Housed in the semi-basement of a historical building, this spot has just the atmosphere of a wine cellar, under the vaulted ceiling and red brick archways.
The bar offers about 90 Old and New World wines, selected by the bar’s owners Albert and Zalia and stored in a wine chiller. The sommelier will be happy to take you inside to choose a bottle or help you navigate the wine list arranged by grape variety. Sweetness, tasting descriptors, alcohol content, and the region are all indicated as well. Apart from the bottles, plenty of reds, whites, rosés and sparkling wines are served by the glass (≈3-8$).
If you are a novice to the world of wine (which is not a crime btw), you can always ask the in-house sommelier or the waiters to recommend a wine, or just go for the blind tasting set (≈9$). You get four red or white samples, and only your sommelier knows what they are, so that you could select the one you genuinely like, regardless of the fancy label or an allegedly good year. This is the perfect opportunity to get yourself acquainted with Georgian and Russian wines, which you probably will not get a chance to try elsewhere.
The light menu is designed to complement the wine. Here, you’ll find several cheese platters and cold appetizers, like prosciutto and tuna tartar. Bruschettas with goat cheese (≈7$) or salmon (≈10$) are perfect with white wine, while the mini burger set (≈8$) or ciabatta with mozzarella, pesto and tomatoes (≈6$) are easily paired with reds. Late brunches with sparkling wine are served from 2 PM to 5 PM.
The ambiance here is very down to earth. They run a wine tasting club where guests can get more familiar with different kinds of wine, so there is no stiffness of a fancy wine bar here whatsoever. It doesn’t take a special occasion to stop by this laid-back spot and find some truth in your glass of wine.
Wine list highlights: Tutti Frutti Arrogant Frog Rouge, Languedoc-Roussillon, France — ≈5$ per gobletLa Cacciatora Nero d’Avola, Terre Siciliane, Italy — ≈7$ per gobletLukomorie Riesling, Taman Peninsula, Russia — ≈3$ per gobletBertani, Pinot Grigio, Veneta, Italy — ≈33$ per bottleSileni Estates, Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc, Marlboro, New Zealand — ≈35$ per bottle Address: 14 Ulitsa Ostrovskogo Hours: Sun–Thu 2 PM–12 AM, Fir–Sat 2 PM–2 AM