A Lesson in Fine Wine

MTVinnaya Istoria has an encyclopedic tome of worldwide wines.
Vinnaya Istoria must boast the city's most advanced wine list. This is not simply a large, comprehensive collection, although it does feature 900 wines from 15 different countries. The menu is a virtual encyclopedia. The full-color book is a real work of art, with maps of every wine region listed, all broken down into different color-coded areas. Each wine has a matching color code that can then be used to identify exactly what part of any given region a wine is from. Naturally, a full background is also given for all the regions. Given that the restaurant is an upmarket affair, the wines start from a surprisingly reasonable 600 rubles a bottle, with numerous varieties available at the 750-rubles mark. By the glass, prices start at 180 rubles.

In comparison to the wine list, the food menu is rather more run-of-the-mill. Dishes include a salad of ruccola, tiger prawns, Parmesan and porto sauce (490 rubles), and quail with porcini (490 rubles). Chicken Caesar and olivye with smoked duck both sell for 370 rubles, while the most inexpensive starter is avocado with tomato, shallot onions and capers at 310 rubles. Soups start at 180 rubles for a chicken with hand-made noodles.

Seafood mains start at 670 rubles for either Nile perch with mashed potato and beet sauce, sea bass with pepper garnish or dorado with vegetables and a crab sauce. Meat mains start at 590 rubles for pork fillet fried with vegetables.

There is an excellent selection of cheeses that can be ordered separately at 70 rubles for 25 grams.

The restaurant's interior is certainly designed with wine in mind -- it is nearly entirely red. Copies of Gustav Klimt artworks break up the red expanses and large windows keep the space airy and light.

Vinnaya Istoria: 17 Tikhvinskaya Ul., Bldg. 1, (499) 972-0650, (499) 973-4441, (499) 978-9885, noon-11 p.m.,

M. Savyolovskaya.