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Thanks to a cozy and intimate atmosphere, sommelier Fation Tila’s eloquence and simplicity, and more than 350 labels of wines and spirits complemented by the most elegant cuisine, Vena is quickly becoming one of the most popular spots not only in the capital but the entire country.
“In vino veritas” goes the famous ancient Latin proverb, implying that only in wine and through wine, one finds the truth. If you, like us, happen to be seeking this kind of truth, then, by all means, head over to Vena! This is how sommelier Fation Tila’s new wine bar-restaurant is called, “vena” being the word for “wine” in the Albanian Gheg dialect. The venue has become a hot spot for all wine lovers in town as well as those who enjoy socializing in a pleasant atmosphere until the late hours of the night.
A selection of more than 350 international and local labels fill the shelves of the wine bar, starting from popular Albanian, Italian, French and Spanish wines to quite exotic New Zealand and Argentine ones, among others. Here, wine can be simply purchased or, for those true wine aficionados, Vena organizes plenty of wine tasting events.
Fation Tila, the owner of this extraordinary space and Albania native, lived in Italy for more than 15 years where he learned the art of becoming a sommelier. He returned to Albania in order to open a place which, according to him, was strikingly absent in the country’s capital. “I simply loved the idea of creating a space where people would gather and have a wine professional by their side, advising them on the wines,” Tila confesses.
In addition to becoming a professional sommelier, while in Italy, Tila also studied social sciences, which made him more attuned to human psychology and society. It is precisely this training that facilitates the effective transfer of his highly professional knowledge to the very least wine savvy of his clients. “Taking into consideration the complex nature of wine, it is essential that contact with wine happen as naturally and simply as possible,” Tila suggests. It is thanks to his communication skills, and his foolproof suggestions, that clients love coming to his wine bar.
One immediately senses the Italian influence in this space, where the creator’s personality is also nicely intertwined with that of the wine bar itself. Photos of Fation and his father decorate the walls of the interior while the wooden tables, constructed by Fation’s own father, add an authentic, original flair to the place. Fation’s mother’s traditional recipes, such as milk pie or homemade meatballs, are also seamlessly worked in among many other contemporary international menu items.
Vena’s menu is impeccably tailored to the bar’s wine selections. As such, you can be sure that every dish here is nicely paired with a variety of wines from Tila’s shelves. The restaurant offers a wonderful selection of cheeses as well as Italian or Spanish prosciuttos and hams. No less impressive are the light finger foods and tapas as well as the more typical meat and seafood-based dishes.
At Vena, there are also plenty of options for those who are not especially fond of wine: artisanal freshly-brewed beers, a variety of whisky and cognac labels, and excellent cocktails!
Thanks to its two entrances, the interior boasts a nice amount of light. In addition, the wine bar’s ample space is smartly divided into smaller areas which create privacy as well as an atmosphere that feels like home. Tila reserves the ground floor for more intimate gatherings and regular screening of film classics!
Tila’s dedication to his craft has inspired him to create a place that welcomes anyone who can appreciate the elegant beverage, regardless of financial means. Thus, several times a month, Vena hosts wine tastings starting from as low as 1000/2000 ALL, inclusive of the buffet, up to 7000 ALL, for those who would like to get a taste of fairly rare and more expensive varieties.
Every Monday, anyone can join the table of wine enthusiasts where the only rule of the game is to bring a bottle of wine along so that the group can get to taste a rich variety of wines. The cost of participation is only 400 ALL. These Monday evenings are always a blast as the random mélange of guests share their thoughts under the effects of the historical truth serum!
Yet, wine holds not only the secrets of those who drink it but its own, as well. Sommeliers represent the privileged group that knows how to uncover these secrets, using the senses of sight, smell, and taste to their fullest extent. Fation does all this quite naturally as he shows us the correct way of tasting wine with a bottle of Valpolicella. He selects this wine in order to pay tribute to the city of Verona, the place where he used to reside and where the famous hills of Valpolicella’s canteens are located. “If we analyze the etymology of the name, val comes from valle (Italian for “valley”), poli means “many,” and cella is the Latin word for “cellar.” Thus, the name Valpolicella stands for the valley of many cellars or canteens. “The area has been renowned for its wines for two thousand years now,” Tila tells us.
Fation introduces us to the history of Valpolicella and, afterward, of the canteen selected for our tasting. The process of getting to know a wine is truly an artform! We stand in disbelief as we taste and confirm Tila’s correct analysis of the wine which he performs using only sight and smell. The wine has a strong toasted flavor, slightly smoky, with a subtle touch of minerals, exactly as he described it based on its smell and the fact that the wine descended very slowly down the glass.
In addition to his participation in numerous seminars and workshops with the best international sommeliers, Tila was named Best Sommelier of Albania in 2015 and has represented the country in various events and competitions worldwide.
“Wine is incomparable to any other beverage. Its production depends on soil, climate, nature, luck. It depends on tradition, as well. Wine is also very much connected to a society’s particular level of civilization,” Fation tells us.
“People should relish wine and enjoy it as something magical, but a kind of magic that is available daily,” he adds as we continue to enjoy the Valpolicella. Although we are far from being wine stewards, thanks to Tila’s thorough explanation and Vena’s warm and pleasant atmosphere, we enjoy the wine like never before. It seems we have found ourselves in the perfect place to truly understand and fall in love with it.