As everyone know’s, Belgium’s most beloved beverage is beer. It’s an undisputed fact considering our small nation has countless breweries across the country and many beers have their own specialized glass. But this could change sooner than we think. Two brothers, Jens and Jonas De Maere, are the cofounders of Belgian Wines, an online shop and Antwerp-based wine bar that specializes in exclusively Belgian wine.
Their love of wine started in the family with their father. As children their family would travel around wineries to taste the different offerings. They became indoctrinated with an understanding and appreciation of wine before any formal training. Jens went on to study economics before having the idea to start selling the wines he would buy as he toured wineries on his vacations and whenever he got the chance. The two brothers first opened their online site to showcase their love for local products and to show the world something new in the wine industry. After a few years of just the online shop, they opened the Belgian Wine bar in Antwerp. The bar added a physical element to their business where people could come try the wines before committing to buying full bottles.
The bar itself is very clean and minimal with exposed concrete walls for a touch of grit and character. Light, wooden benches and tables line one wall, while the opposite is covered by shelves of carefully displayed bottles. Transparent glass covers the shelves and have the bottle prices written in front. Another floor-to-ceiling shelf in the back acts as a partial divider between the dining area and the server’s area, a larger group table, and access to the kitchen. During the day, Belgian Wines is flooded with natural light, making it an ideal spot for a mid afternoon glass of sparkling wine and couples pieces of charcuterie, cheese and bread (all of which are also Belgian made). As the sun goes down, the wood and iron interior make it a cozy, intimate setting. Belgian Wines offers a handful of wines that are available by the glass and a more extensive selection by the bottle. A range of prices make it easy to find a bottle that will fit not only your budget, but your tastes as well. All of the wines Jens and Jonas offer are hand-selected by Jonas, who is an avid oenophile. They want to make sure you taste the best wine Belgium has to offer.
So how are wines in Belgium? Good. Really good, in fact. Due to the increase of global warming, the climate in Belgium is becoming more and more hospitable to the grapes by providing just the right amount of sunlight and warmth to create crisp, clean wines. Belgium’s climate is actually making it a region perfect for sparkling wines. There isn’t yet enough sunlight to make the grapes produce an excessive amount of sugar, which is great for sparkling because it keeps the wines from being too heavy and overly alcoholic. They remain bright and a little acidic. While it is still hard to say if Belgian produced wines can rival other countries like France and Italy in terms of recognition, Jens thinks it will be for the sparkling wine over anything else. But they need a catchier name first.