No, it’s No-mono-mo.

I love drinking wine and the only thing better than fine wine is free wine. Free wine is hard to find. So is Nomonomo.

Founder Toshi used to be a sales guy for IBM but he’s retired now and runs Nomonomo the difficult to locate and difficult to pronounce wine bar next to Thong Lo BTS. It’s hard to find because it’s upstairs, under Rooftop Bar, which is easy to find. You can see it from the BTS platform and every night I go past and think “It looks like those folks are having a good time.” But now rainy season has hit and I reckon alfresco cocktails are out and sensible people stay inside and sample wine. Here’s the sign:

If you walk from the BTS you see the door but not the sign, put a sticker on the door or something, Toshi!

When I think of a wine bar, I think back to the late 1980s, when yuppies in big-shouldered suit jackets would sip expensive Californian plonk under the green and purple neon glow. Nomonomo has no neon or spiked-mullet haircuts and I bet you can’t even do coke off the bar. Here’s the deal:

No, not free but quite fair.

It’s a bold move. Pay Bt990+VAT on arrival (or book ahead for Bt750) and you can have as much as you like of the 15 bottles open for the next hour and a half. There’s no bar, no food (you can order in or BYO) and no nonsense. It’s hard-core wine appreciation for the hard-core alcoholic wine lover.

With Japanese hospitality and efficiency Toshi opened a bottle of Nua bubbly and set the 90-minute countdown running.

Nua was the bubbly du jour a few years ago but we haven’t seen it for a while and, frankly, there’s better prosecco these days if you shop about. Sorry to make you open the bottle, Toshi, I hope somebody drank the rest of it. Let’s get to business.

Motepulciano d'abruzzo DOC

This Italian red celebrates in the name Motepulciano d’abruzzo DOC and will set you back Bt1,000 if you’re not careful. It’s not bad but it’s cannon central Italian red and I confess we did not come back to it later. However, he has a red-haired stepchild:

Sangiovese

It is true that, as I approach my dotage, I’ve developed a soft-spot for light Italian reds and a Sangiovese fits the bill nicely. Good, rich nose, medium light and an excellent example of your sunny Italian red. Yum yum.

Valle Del Rey Luz Chilena

Now we streak south of the border into the land of Chilean cab-savs. We opened Valle Del Rey Luz Chilena. It needed to breathe a little but revealed itself as a velvety, dark C/S. A good example of what I normally pigeonhole as a boring wine but I believe this is an expensive and good example.

 Beurempart Gran Reserve Pays d'oc

Now we are getting somewhere – France. The Beurempart Gran Reserve Pays d’oc is a cabernet/merlot blend which Sachi finds sweet but I find a touch ascorbic. Not a bad one though. I am developing an admiration of French wines that are not from the big four regions.

Parallele 45 cotes-du-rhone

I would guess that we are all aware of the 45th parallel, that demilitarized zone between mortal enemies France and Italy? No? Well no matter, this playful blend tastes like a hillside in the sun. We came back to this one more than once.

Righto, we’re probably all feeling the effects now. Mrs Sachi won’t touch the white unless it’s carbonated but I have been partial to its restorative qualities.

The Clearwater Cove sauvignon blanc is really what you’d expect from an NZ S/B but the pink Val de Loire pinot was very good. I was taking sips from these so I could keep up with Mrs Sachi’s drive into the continental reds.

But not the continent you think! We have had nothing but disappointment with malbecs. The ones in Thailand are expensive and rough, the one we had in Australia at Christmas was very average and Mrs Sachi even went all the way to Argentina to smuggle some back in her suitcase that turned out to be rubbish. The lesson is that there’s no such thing as a good, cheap malbec. I don’t know how much this one was but it’s dark, dark red, earthy, fruity and dry. No turpentine, no horrific nose or any of the typical disappointments. No price tag either.

Appassimento Rosso Veneto

Now this Appassimento is another Italian but a little bit special – it’s made of ‘dry grapes’. I guess that means sultanas? Like what prisoners do in jail? Either way it was not as sweet as I expected, very subtle nose and put me in the mind of fruit cordials, or Australia’s Ribena. Not your average Italian red. Probably costs a fortune but that’s why we are here and not at the Old British a few doors down.

Eugenio Collavini pino gringo

The Eugenio Collavini pino gringo is another excursion away from the reds. The Reds are all lined up in regimental formation, ready and eager for tasting while the Whites lounge around in their ice baths complaining and gossiping.

The astute will note the sausage-dog on the label, which either adds class or kitsch, not sure yet. But this Italian white really stole the show for me. Surprisingly fine and refreshing. There are other wines with dogs on the label but they are not this wine.

The Hills pinot noir, Yarra Velley

Back into the red. The Hills pinot emanates from my native land and four or five years ago my dad took (then) Miss Sachi and I on a winery tour through the Yarra Valley. Perhaps it was about the time this wine was being bottled, maybe a little before because that trip convinced me that Australia couldn’t make decent pinot noir. This one has a lovely light colour and displays fine Australian fruit. Probably a bit pricier than most Aussie plonk but if you like pinot you’re paying a premium anyway.

Mas de Berceo

And here we are at the finish line. No, we didn’t sample 15 bottles due to Mrs Sachi’s outrageous white wine bias, but the sand was running out of our 90-miunte hourglass. The Mas de Berceo from Spain is a fine place to finish. It’s very dark but has a subtle nose and is very light. Unlike other Spanish wines, that are all sunshine and berries, this one has an almost stony middle and a sour, but pleasant end. Navarra straddles the Pyrenees so maybe that accounts for its flintiness but Mrs Sachi informs me that Berco is on the coast and enjoys an Atlantic climate.

So that’s a lot of interesting and expensive wine packed into 90 minutes. If you like fancy hooch or want to impress a date then I’d recommend booking ahead before Toshi comes to his senses. If you’re cashed up, arrive at 5:30pm on the dot with Bt1,600 in hand for unlimited flow to get truly tanked. I don’t have that kind of money but I did manage to fill my glass to the brim with the sausage-dog pinot gringo at the last minute and I am gladder for it.

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