The world’s best wine shops: Wein Handlung Kreis, (Stuttgart, Germany)

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Bernd Kreis, Best Sommelier in Europe in 1992, is the owner of this fine establishment located in the centre of Stuttgart and considered to be one of the best wine shops in the world.

The story of this sommelier, who will tell you that his "life is wine", began in the Wielandshöhe restaurant (1 Michelin star), where he worked until 2001.   In 1994, while still employed at the restaurant, serving and advising customers, he set up his own company, to which he dedicated his free time and holidays, opening his first small shop in a suburb of the German city.

His business grew steadily, so he decided to leave the restaurant, where he had spent so much of his working life, and devote himself entirely to the business of buying and selling wines.  He opened a second shop, in the centre of Stuttgart, larger and better located than the first.

In 2012, they moved again to the final (for now?) shop in Dorotheenstrasse 2, next to the Markthalle (market) in "Schillerplatz", one of Stuttgart’s most beautiful squares.  This square is home to a flea market three times a week, a wine festival in the summer and Stuttgart’s famous Christmas Market in the winter.  In short, the shop is located in the beating heart of the city and, as a consequence, enjoys a fairly constant footfall.

According to Bernd, when he was working on the store’s identity, he "wanted to do away with wine clichés and hypocrisy, in order to create a romanticism where there wasn’t any".  To achieve this, he decided not to use any of the materials usually associated with wine, such as stone, terracotta, wood, steel, and so on, which forced the architect to come up with an alternative way of presenting the wines, and which, in turn, has given the store its great personality and originality.  The shelving, referred to as "fourpointeight", was created exclusively for the store, and can now be purchased "in situ".

When they designed the store, they decided to include a small wine bar-like area, which has become a unique space where young customers can discover the world of wine and explore the “liquid element’. They offer a very good selection of craft wines and, in order to further enhance the wine tasting experience, they have created an ambiance with different styles of music, including jazz, rock, salsa, blues and punk.

As it is a rather small space (around 80 M2), the wine tasters are rather close to each other, and this often creates conversations and an exchange of opinions, which adds a social dimension to the wine drinking experience.

To maintain the high quality of the range of wines on offer, and particularly the craft wines, most of which are organic or biodynamic, Bernd spends much of his time on the road in search of those little gems that end up in his original store in the centre of Stuttgart.

Interesting anecdote

Bernd has a small vineyard near Stuttgart, where he produces a few bottles for his own consumption and which can also be tasted in the store.  One day, the famous jazz pianist and singer, Diana Krall, came into the store and she and her entourage tried Bernd's wine.  Impressed by the quality of the product, the guitarist, Anthony Wilson, decided to buy some bottles for the band to enjoy with its meals and, before their Stuttgart gig, they drunk some of the wine.  Such was the success of the wine, that Diana Krall herself even mentioned it during her concert.

 Quick Q&A

  • - How many different wines do you stock? We have about 1,200 wines from Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
  • - How many bottles do you usually stock? As we import all our wines ourselves, we have a huge stock.  In the Dorotheenstrasse store we have the capacity to store approximately 10,000 bottles, but the actual stock is smaller - approximately 6,000 bottles. We receive deliveries from our main store twice a week.  I calculate the average total stock is around 100,000 bottles. At the busiest times of the year the stock is significantly higher.
  • - How many bottles do you sell in a year? I've never counted!
  • - What’s the oldest wine in the shop right now? A 1905 Madeira
  • - What’s the cheapest wine in the shop currently? The cheapest bottle, a red wine and a white wine from Setúbal, retails at 4.90 Euros.
  • - And the most expensive? An Eiswein from Egon Müller
  • - What’s the cheapest wine you've ever sold in the store’s history? The Setúbal wines I’ve just mentioned
  • - And the most expensive ever? A Trockenbeerenauslese from Egon Müller
  • - What countries do the wines come? Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.

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