Wine 4 minutes 07 June 2023

Restaurants Carry Türkiye's Heritage Grapes to The Future

Anatolian land has blessed us with grapes. Discussion about the local food or cuisine automatically brings the topic of local wines. What grows together, goes together.

Istanbul Wine

In the homeland of wine, as the ancient Anatolian grapes have recently resurrected, regional grapes, namely endemic types have also started to find their place in glasses; introducing a new quality each day, developing, and finding its character.

From local grape varieties like Narince to Ak Üzüm, from Çavuş to Kolorko, from Sıdalan to Öküzgözü, from Central Anatolia or the Marmara Region to Eastern and South-eastern Anatolia… Çalkara, Kösetevek, Hasandede, Foça Karası, Barburi, Horoz Karası, Keten Gömlek, Rkatsiteli, Kanlı Kara and many others… Thanks to the unique climate and geography, Türkiye's endemic grape types incorporating the character of the land, reach our tables directly from the hands of the producers. Ancient wines of ancient lands. Türkiye's heritage grapes.

Restaurant’s wine menus are one of the most significant places to introduce wines produced from local grapes to both domestic and international consumers. In the long run, a crucial way the local grapes can enter the world literature is through the restaurant wine menus themselves. As the customers include these wines in their daily lives, producers find a place in the market; a fact which allows the continuation of the production process. And the restaurants that are prominent in the international arena open a path for wines made from unique endemic grapes to have a place in the international gastronomy stage. As the number of producers making wine from local grapes increases in Türkiye, the diversity of grapes continues to increase and the wine menus expand.

Carrying local grape and small-scale wine producers to the international wine arena through their wine menus, Mikla, Neolokal and TURK Fatih Tutak promote the incorporation of Türkiye's heritage wines in the world wines platform.

Image // Neolokal


The increase in Turkish boutique wine producers since 2012, and in the bottled local grapes, as well as top producers’ choice of single vineyards and single grapes is also visible at Mikla's wine menu. Natural wine, orange wine and naturally fermented wines as well as pet-nats have also come to the fore. While unheard grapes have been turned into wine, boutique winemaking has made strong openings all over Türkiye. In time, Gönenli has replaced the imported middle segment wine blends with the best blends of global wine grapes cultivated in Türkiye. Currently, the menu’s imported wine list has only upper segment brands.

Since its foundation in 2005, Mikla has been a pioneer in guiding and leading the restaurants in Türkiye with its wine menu. Mikla's Management Consultant and Wine Coordinator, Sabiha Apaydın Gönenli has been making a difference with Mikla's wine menu from the first day on. Following the changes they made in 2012 with the transition to the New Anatolian Cuisine, Mikla sets an example as a restaurant where Turkish wines find the widest place, constantly opening space for local producers.

Thanks also to the great support of Chef and owner Mehmet Gürs, offering a wide wine menu from the first day, and creating an environment where even premium wines are offered by the glass are what make the most defining features of Mikla's award-winning wine menu.

Sabiha Apaydın Gönenli has been seeking wines produced from local grapes since 2012. Currently, Mikla wine menu includes over 400 items, having nearly 290 local wines, of which around 110 are made from local grapes.

Being in Mikla's exemplary and visionary wine list encourages the small local producers. The sublime pairing of lamb with Öküzgözü and Boğazkere, the octopus plate with a light red Kara Sakız make great introductions to local grapes.

Image //Mikla


When Founding Partner/Chef Maksut Aşkar and Founding Partner Erim Leblebicioğlu founded Neolokal 8 years ago, they preferred to have a wine menu consisting solely of local wines. Maksut Aşkar's enthusiasm in creating the menu matched with his choice of the local wines. The Neolokal motto "We believe that those who do not know and protect their traditions cannot have a future" demonstrates itself also in their glasses and plates.

Their menu includes wine from every region of Türkiye. The pairing menus have the plates paired solely with wines made from local grapes. Pairing menus are a great starting point for those who are not familiar with local grapes and are very effective in introducing the endemic grapes as well. And in their newly designed second pairing menu, they have also added the global grapes cultivated in Türkiye. With the introduction of the new wines in their dynamic menu, not only new pairings are created, but the visibility of the local grapes increases day by day. Since the first day, Erim Leblebicioğlu has been responsible for the wine list having over 200 local wines, half of which are made from local grape varieties.

Together with the unique characteristics of the endemic grapes, the fact that the most common wine-producing grape varieties are cultivated in different regions yields the reflection of the terroir differences in wine and allows to make horizontal tastings in some. Thanks in part to the customers who desire to make pairings with natural wines, the ability to offer natural wines, creating such a demand, and then encouraging the producer are among the most crucial parts of this journey.

Just as the recipes are authentic for us, the ingredients growing together in the same land complement each other, carrying the same character to the plate and the glass. İçli köfte dumplings paired with Çalkarası and Kalecik Karası, olive oil braised jerusalem artichoke and chestnut with Ak Üzüm and many more to discover.

Image // Neolokal

TURK Fatih Tutak

The presence of local producers in the menus of the restaurants that own a place in the world gastronomy stage not only motivates them, but also paves the way for them to have a place in both Turkish and world gastronomy, and supports the Anatolian wines in taking firm steps forward.

Food cultivated on a same geography yields a superb experience when consumed with the wine of the same region, creating the best of meaning. Just like preserving the traditions in our food, it is essential to preserve traditions in wine. Encouraging the producers, this also paves the way for the processing of Türkiye's endemic grapes that are forgotten, not cultivated or not used for wine.

Currently having approximately 270 items on their menu, with nearly 50 locally produced wines and nearly 50 wines made from local grapes; TURK continues to expand its wine menu gradually.

Özkan Sercan Vatansever says that lately, there is an increasing demand for natural wines, and they recommend domestic pet-nats to guests who prefer sparkling wine starting their meal. For example, he pairs the artichoke plate with Albarino, both from the Aegean region, and he says that the earthy taste of mushrooms and Öküzgözü are deliciously matched, while the dessert plates pair well with Bornova Misket, and the butter and honey plate create delicious harmonies with the naturally sparkling brut white wine made from Kalecik Karası.

The sommelier of TURK, Özkan Sercan Vatansever says that half of their wine menu consists of Turkish producers themselves. And TURK's wine menu that matches the micro seasonal tasting menu changing daily some of the items, offers wines from a selection of mostly global grapes cultivated by local producers.

Image // TURK Fatih Tutak

Our Istanbul selection comprises over 50 restaurants. Take the opportunity to peruse the MICHELIN Guide app and find out more.

Illustration image // Mikla


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