At Barrel we receive so many emails that sometimes it’s difficult to answer them all in time. However, some questions regularly come up, so we have made this "Q & A" for you!
-Nice, a wine bar. But errr ... I don't really know much about wine myself!
We often hear this from our guests. But: being a wine buff is not necessary! You really don't need to know anything about wine to enjoy it. We would like to be as accessible as possible and are happy to answer all your questions about wine!
-Nice, a wine bar. But the Lynch Bages 1996 that I ordered is just a bit too cold. Those aren't the right glasses, by the way, and why isn't there white linen on the table?
Opinions on the perfect way to serve various wines vary. We don't pretend to do everything perfectly, but if you would like us to rant for an hour about wine: bring it on!
-Nice, a wine bar. But I only like beer!
Bottoms up! Of course we have beer. The delicious Château Neubourg from Gulpener, which has been awarded several times as the best beer in the Netherlands… We also have Brand beer on draught. If you really JUST want to drink beer, Proeflokaal Mout is around the corner, a great bar which only serves beers Dutch craft breweries. Highly recommended!
-Nice, a wine bar. I also import wines myself, you know? Really really good! Would totally fit here!
If you import a wine or represent a producer that would be an indispensable addition our assortment, you may always bring us a bottle to taste. As a little discouragement, we get this remark astonishingly often from hobby importers. We are not sensitive to that one fantastic small farm with the dirty little cellar and that unwashed winemaker that you discovered on holiday, we search for quality and uniqueness. Moreover, if you only import one or two wines, that is very inconvenient for us. Discouraged?
-We would like to reserve a table, is that possible?
It is not possible to reserve a table. That is a conscious choice; we are not a restaurant but a “café” so you can walk in whenever you want. It rarely happens that we don’t have a seat for you.
Useful to know when you plan your visit: busiest moments are usually between 4pm and 7pm and between 9pm and midnight. However, we are a bar, so you never totally know :-)
At the moment, we’re considering offering a few tables for reservation on weekend nights. Probably more news soon…
-We are with five, but there is only a table for two left. Can we sit there?
We are a small bar, so it is nice if you take this up with staff first. If you block the passage for other guests or staff, for example, this is not possible and you may be able to wait for a larger table.
-And if we push the tables together?
Due to the limited space, it is not desirable for guests to lug around our furniture. In consultation we may be able to arrange something for you. Pushing around tables without consulting staff makes any form of consultation meaningless in advance.
-We are fifteen and there is no place for us. Don't you want to make money or something ?!
Due to the limited space and acoustics, large groups can have a significant influence on the noise level and thus the atmosphere in our company. We want all our guests to have a good time and are therefore reluctant to allow (unannounced) groups. We therefore reserve the right to refuse parties larger than eight people. If you manage to get through our balloting with a larger group: you can only pay per group (see justification below), so not individually.
-Can we taste a number of different wines? Do you have a “High Wine”?
Yes of course. In our wine list and on the plate you will find the possibility to order a Small Tasting of 4, 6 or 8 half glasses. You will then receive our “choice of the weekend”. You can indicate your preferences (more white, more red, sweet, etc.) per table. The Small Tasting can differ per evening - or sometimes even per table - because we have different wines open every week. Snacks can be ordered separately. You don't have to book a Small Tasting in advance (or in fact, you can't).
-Do you have specialty beers / cola / orange / fristi / chocolate milk / coffee?
No, no, no, no, no and limited. We have fruit juices from Schulp, organic grape juice made from wine grapes at Weingut Feth (Germany), a little bit of tonic and San Pellegrino. Our carefully selected beers, Château Neubourg from Gulpener in a bottle and Brand on draught, are also delicious. For coffee you should visit Black & Bloom.
We are a winebar.
-Can we have the bill? We would like to pay separately.
Paying separately is not possible for two reasons. First, it is difficult from a logistical point of view when we have to split a bill during busy hours while a queue forms in front of the ATM. Secondly, especially with larger companies, there is always someone who gets to pay a larger amount because something has been wrongly calculated splitting the account. We have experienced that this can lead to complicated discussions in the company. Therefore: you can only pay per table! If necessary, we provide a coaster, pen and calculator. Tikkie (a Dutch invention) also works great, by the way.
-Hey! We want to go to Barrel Wijnlokaal but ... you are closed while according to your opening hours you should be open ?! Why??
In principle, we have been open daily since October 2018; Our exact opening hours are on the front door and can be found via our website, Google and Facebook. However, we reserve the right to be close early, according to the following principles:
1. We have a private party or tasting. We only book parties on Sunday or at the beginning of the week, so we do not close for this on Friday or Saturday!
2. It is a quiet evening. If the weather is very nice or very bad or - for example – it’s Monday, it can sometimes calm. It may happen we close up a bit earlier.
3. In case of holidays, summer or Christmas holidays, etc., we close one or more days. We then adjust the opening hours on our website and communicate via Facebook, Instagram and Google. With the updating of opening hours on all platforms (Tripadvisor etc) we can nowadays fill up our entire holiday, so we usually do NOT do this. So: if you doubt whether we are open. Our facebook page has the answer!
4. There is force majeure.
-Hey! We want to go to Barrel Wijnlokaal but hmmm ... we are not sure if you are open. Oh well, it is only 01.50 am so we will call Martijn's mobile number to ask!
If you love a good nights’sleep it is wise not to do this, because Martijn will haunt you for a few weeks. Nowadays, we also have a fixed number: 050-850 96 49. We simply don’t pick up the phone when it is very busy ?. Martijn's lovely voice will read you a friendly yet clear message on the answering machine!
-We would like to organize a private drink / tasting. What are the possibilities?
A private party is bookable for a maximum of 60 people on Sunday and most weekdays. During opening hours our tasting room is available, for a maximum of 20 people. Contact us for possibilities and prices.
-And a tasting on location, is that also possible?
Of course! We have extensive experience in providing tastings on location. For a wedding, dinner, promotion, graduation or company party. We have some additional logistics for this (glassware, suitable cooling, etc.), so the costs are slightly different (er ... higher) than an “ordinary” tasting. We’re happy to make you an offer!
We also organize tastings in our Wine Shop at Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 23. Here we have some more options, for example wine & food tastings.
-Is Barrel Wijnlokaal or Wijnwinkel also suitable for a morning or afternoon meeting or presentation?
Sure! We have several large tables, an espresso machine, beamer and TV with HDMI and Chromecast. Carafes of water on the table, coffee (or wine !!) and you can get started. If you want, we can even arrange a lunch for you, in collaboration with Cook-Ing. In our wineshop we have a separate tastingroom available with a big table, a kitchen and presentation materials. For prices and possibilities, send an e-mail.
-We are a volleyball / skating / rowing / bridge / student association and we organize a fantastic event. Do you want to sponsor us?
Of course there are some clubs that we regularly sponsor; often we have a bond with them since Barrel started. In some weeks, however, we’re called ten to fifteen times (!!) with all kinds of sponsor requests. The standard answer is yes, if you can do something for us too! Event? Take the wine from us. Conference? We can provide a nice wine gift for the speaker (s). Anyway, you can fill it out. If we can do something for each other, we would like to hear from you. Otherwise: no, thanks.
-Why does it sometimes take a while to get our ordered cheese and cured meat?
It can be very busy at our winebar, and sometimes everyone wants snacks at the same time. Our cheeses & cured meat plates take a little time to prepare, and freshly prepared is always better. For us, this is added value, so we will not change that.
Are you getting a bit light-headed and need something to eat quickly? We have a number of (varying) extra snacks on the menu that are faster on the table: rillettes, bread with spreads, savory muffins and so on ...
-Why don't you have snacks to pair with your wines?
We have over 1,000 different wines, of which different bottles are available by the glass every week. Our range of snacks also changes almost every week. In addition, our famous dishes consist of a number of different cheeses and cured meats ... It is therefore impossible to pair “one on one”. Furthermore, we think or ourselves as a café/wine bar. We’re informal and fun. If you would like a perfect wine and food-pairing, please visit a restaurant. We would like to recommend: Stadscafé Pronk, Dinercafé Diep, Vive la Vie , Food, Brussels Lof, Nassau (Prinsenhof Hotel), De Pijp, Proevens, Voilà, Onder de Linden (Aduard), Bistro Het Gerecht (NH Hotel) and so on ... Fits perfectly with an aperitif at Barrel! And afterwards, just returen to us for a nice dessert wine or grappa ;-)).
-Where do those snacks come from?
We have a number of regular suppliers, including Affineurs Van Tricht (Antwerp) and Van der Veen Kaas (Kollum), Family Wilner (Roden), Marktslager (Groningen), Slagerij John van Broekhuizen (Dalfsen), De Wilde Slager (Groningen) , Basarz (Groningen). Our olives are supplied by Basarz, our bread comes from the unique Broodje van Eigen Deeg and the (organic) spreads, chutneys, muffins, etc. are made by Cook-Ing (Groningen).
-How many different wines do you actually have?
Pfew, it varies every week. But the number of wines is still growing. At the last count (December 2019), there were 1,041.
-Why aren't they all available by the glass?
Because that is physically impossible. Some wines are too expensive or too delicate for that and we don't trust most “storage systems” that cost thousands of euros and look fancy but usually don't work. With the exception of the Coravin system, which allowed us to expand the number of wines by the glass to about 65 (!). We’ve used it since mid-2016. Works great.
-Why so many different wines?
We like to collect! There are so many beautiful wines to be discovered! We emphasize on mainly European wines, because why would you get from far what is made very well relatively nearby? Sweet dessert wines are also a hobby, although we don’t sell them very much, unfortunately.
We adjust our digital wine list every three to four weeks. It may therefore very occasionally happen that a wine has run out or a harvest year has changed and it has escaped our attention. Just sayin '.
Our tastings and wine courses give us the opportunity to regularly taste lots of wines. This way we can keep a close eye on quality and maturing.
- So you also give wine courses?
-Wow, actually you are quite expensive!
We recently read in a Google review: "Delicious wines and snacks. Slightly pricey maybe ..."
We bumped our head against the wall for a while... Of course, you can go as crazy as you want, pricewise, but we certainly don't think of ourselves as “expensive”, and we are happy to explain why.
We put a "fixed" (although slightly varying) sum on top of the retail price of a wine. For this sum, you are welcomed in a cosy, heated and illuminated winebar with trained staff, serving you wine in crystal Riedel or Zalto glassware, accompanied by as much free water as you can drink.
Our fixed margin formula means that it is more attractive for our customers to order a special wine (for example, a wine that costs 40 euros at our wine store costs between 55 and 65 euros at the bar). This way, we stimulate our guests drinking better wine!
We also have an extensive selection of wines between 18 and 24 euros. Normally you get about 6.5 glasses from a bottle, so if you want to drink a tasty wine at an affordable price, you can get it for less than 3 euros a glass!
Our wine list also contains a considerable number of rare wines that are hard to find in shops or even at auctions. They often come from Martijn's private collection. We keep these wines in a secured storage, and they can be found on our exclusive wine list for around the current auction prices. Expensive? Well… you do get an unique bottle. Such a wine has been preserved for you for 10, 20, 30 or 73 years (our oldest drinkable wine is from the 1946 harvest). So what is expensive?
Fortunately, we also regularly hear from our guests that we are competitively priced. It is all "in the eye of the beholder".
-This bottle of wine at a restaurant in Spain / France / Italy costs only 18 euros and 35 here!
Count with us. Purchase price - transport - excise – import company - margin - labor - gas / light - VAT - rent - operating costs -> sales price. In Southern European countries, wine does not have to be transported from far away, excise rates are usually lower and labor is cheaper. So if you prefer to pay 18 euros for that bottle and like to enjoy some sun with it, feel free to drive to Spain / France / Italy. And on the way back, take a few of those nice cheap bottles with you for us. We do not contribute to your fuel.
-We ordered a bottle of wine, but it has cork / vinegar stitch / smells like rotten eggs. What to do?
A faulty wine is of course replaced or removed from your bill. However, because we also have a number of special, old and expensive wines on our wine list, discussions can easily arise (old wines usually are no longer bursting with primary fruits, for example, and few wine drinkers nowadays are used to that). We are, even in the case of old / expensive wines, competent (and sporty) enough to recognize and acknowlegde mistakes, but since there are about as many wine connoisseurs as football analysts, the final verdict on the state of a wine always lies with Martijn (registered vinoloog and WSET3 graduated). If a wine does -unfortunately- not meet your expectations but is technically correct, it will remain on your bill. No further discussions possible.
As an aside, you can assume that if we think a wine is "closed" at any point, or not very suitable to drink (some wines can be a bit unpleasant for a period of time when ripening), we will notify you. Wines that are not correct or overripe are of course removed from our wine list.
-Why is smoking prohibited on our terrace?
Because our terrace is walled, smoke keeps hanging around. We believe that wine and smoking don't go together. If you really want to smoke, then please do it outside in the Haddingestraat. And please be quiet for our neighbours!
-Can my dog come to Barrel?
Certainly, if kept on a leash. Your dog should not be a nuisance to other guests and us, and of course is not allowed behind the counter or near the snacks. We have a water bowl.
-Why do you close at midnight already?!
Because we like our lovely guests making breakfast for their kids the next morning / can function properly at work / college. If the atmosphere is really brilliant, we remain open a bit longer and have a jukebox party!
-What is that beautiful / awful church music that you play on the Saturday night after the last orders? And why?!?!
Herman Finkers' Sint Joris Mis. Also available on Spotify! Because it's a great way to "ring in Sunday" and a small tribute to a special person.
-What a fun jukebox! Does it work?
Yes of course, it would be a very expensive and useless form of lighting.
-What a fun jukebox! Will it play if I put a euro in?
No. It is made by Seeburg Corp. (Chicago) in 1962. The euro did not exist back then.
-What a fun jukebox! How many CDs can it hold?
CDs ?? 80 vinyl singles, 45 rpm. From Dutch deceased superstars like Benny Neyman and André Hazes to international deceased superstars like Prince and David Bowie.
-What a nice wine. Can we buy it?
-Store? That's soooo 1989! Where's that web store ?!
What we do has is about tasting and experiencing. Both at the winebar and shop we have beautiful wines open for tasting, we provide courses, we regularly visit winemakers, etc.
So: if possible, it’s best to visit us! However: on popular demand, especially from guests from outside Groningen, it is finally here…
-We have a BarrelBon! Can we also use it at the Wineshop?
Barrel Vouchers issued up to and including 31 December 2018 cannot be spent at the wineshop for accounting reasons. From January 2019 on we have issued new gift vouchers that can be used at both our winebar and wineshop and are also sold at both addresses! Gift vouchers issued through Formitable can only be used at the winebar.