Being a wine drinker in Taipei can be tricky. I know, because I used to drink a lot of wine. And then I moved back to Taipei.
Sure, you can buy wine everywhere. And yes, you can order wine at most non-Chinese restaurants in the city — but the standard is pretty low. For instance, the one time I ate at that impossible-to-book, name-chef restaurant, it was clear the servers didn’t know the wine list. But not only that, the restaurant had run out of wine.
Kudos to the servers who work there because it takes a comical amount of ignorance to hand a diner the wine list and wait patiently for their selection when pretty much everything is out of stock. After three rounds of “that’s not available, sorry”, I was relieved to be presented with anything alcoholic simply to quench my thirst.
So when I passed by Origines, a French bistro and wine cellar in an alley off Dunhua South Road, I didn’t expect it to become my go-to wine bar in Taipei.
Origines turned out to be the kind of place where you can pop in on a Saturday night, order a great wine by the glass and find yourself surrounded by other people also enjoying their wine. The best part is the staff know their own wine list because they actually drink wine. It’s like slipping into an alternate universe.
Over the past year, I’ve been to Origines countless times. With my husband for after-dinner nightcaps. With friends visiting from New York looking for a casual wine bar to catch up. I’ve taken girl friends for spontaneous wine dates. Most memorable of all was an unexpectedly crazy Saturday night when our group of six ended up with a “lucky” 8,888NT bill.
Believe me, it’s easy (for me, especially) to have a good time at Origines.
I recently went to try their new French tapas menu and introduce a new friend to Origines. (Hi, Didi!) We started with glasses of Tutti Frutti white wine, just 180NT per glass. Then came the food…
We started with garlicky grilled vegetables (250NT), pitted olives (200NT) and savory cheese puffs (200NT). After that, these amazing fried pig trotters (300NT).
Then we switched to this dry riesling which wasn’t sweet at all. 260NT per glass.
More tasty bites. The swordfish ceviche (300NT) was perfectly tart. And we loved the fresh hummus with pinenuts and basil (250NT).
Not pictured was my favorite dish: warm potato and octopus salad (250NT). Hands-down the best octopus I’ve had in Taipei. So good I forgot to take a photo of it, but once I realized I didn’t care at all. We will meet again soon, warm octopus.
We headed down to the wine cellar for glasses of muscadet for 200NT. It’s a pretty dark space, which means it’s great for intimate conversations but terrible for taking photos. Perfect date night spot, if you ask me.
For dessert, we shared the apple tart with smoked ice cream. Soooo good, you guys.
One more thing: ignore the haters with their spammy one-star ratings on Google. I’m a longtime paying customer and I adore this place. Five stars.