THURSDAY evening at Mondo Vino and the atmosphere is bubblier than a newly opened bottle of Champagne. The terrace is teeming with people sipping wine and tucking into light Italian bites, and ditto inside, where the leather couches are full and the tables are surrounded by expats and tourists engaged in hearty conversation. It’s lively, it’s exciting, it’s fun – community spirit at its best.
“Our aim from the beginning was to create a place where people can come and spend long, lazy afternoons or evenings with their friends,” says Mondo Vino owner Peter Kirketerp, a Danish national who has lived in Thailand for over 20 years. “We knew that to do this we didn’t just have to have the right atmosphere – a cozy setting with comfortable furniture – but we also had to offer great wines at affordable prices. After all, people feel most comfortable when they don’t worry about what they’re spending. We also knew we had to be generous – treat people who come here like they’re coming to our home, rather than to our shop.”
Peter and his wife, Sirikorn, Mondo Vino’s managing director, are certainly generous. The first time we dropped by Mondo Vino we saw them open several of their most expensive wines for a potential customer, who was planning a party at his home, to sample for free. Most owners wouldn’t do this, fearing that they may be just pouring money down the drain, but Peter and Sirikorn’s generosity paid off – before leaving, the man put in a huge order.
“If we hadn’t opened the wines for him to sample, he may have just walked out of the door without buying anything,” says Peter. “And even if he did just leave after trying them, at least my wife and I would have had a great excuse to finish them ourselves!”
Peter and Sirikorn don’t just reserve their generosity for potential big spenders though – visit Mondo Vino any day of the week and, alongside the already good value on wine (wines start at just B100 per glass; and bottles at only B350), you’ll find plenty of tempting deals on offer.
Relaxing Thursday is perhaps the biggest draw. Held every Thursday from 6pm-7.30pm, it offers free-flow red and white wines plus a buffet of pastas, pizzas and other Italian fare, for just B650 per person. (Starting this month, the same concept will be held on Saturdays from 6.30pm-8pm).
“With our deals we’re flexible too,” says Peter. “If we realize that people are having a good time and aren’t quite ready to go home, then we’ll simply keep the drinks flowing and extend the deal for half an hour or so.”
This is certainly the case on the Thursday night we visit. So joyous is the mood, Peter extends the drinking time by 30 minutes and even cracks open a few bottles of Grappa.
As he wanders around handing out full glasses and sharing jokes with the appreciative crowd, Sirikorn claps her hands with delight. “There’s a real feeling of community here that we’re keen to promote,” she says. “It’s not all about making money, it’s about building trust and rewarding loyalty; we do that by making friends, not just customers.”
Prior to working full time at Mondo Vino, Sirikorn was the GM of the award-winning Putahracsa Resort. So it’s no surprise to see she’s introduced a few hospitality elements similar to a five star resort – things like free finger snacks served at every table; friendly service from knowledgeable staff; luxurious comfy couches to sink into; and a real focus on quality.
“For us quality is key,” says Sirikorn. “We could offer the best deals in the world but people wouldn’t come back if we didn’t deliver a good product. So we work with many different importers and will only stock what we consider to be great wines. We also have some exclusive selections of well-known labels, such as Follador Prosecco from Italy. Basically, if you want great international wines at good prices, you come to us.”
Alongside the wines, Mondo Vino also stocks Belgian beers, Italian coffee and pasta, and imported cheeses and cold cuts. The latter are available to eat at the shop from just B350 per platter.
Other food available at Mondo Vino comes from the kitchens of the nearby La Grappa restaurant, often hailed as being one of the best places in town for Italian eats. The chefs there shuttle over a decent selection of hot homemade pizzas, sandwiches, and pasta dishes, which go down a treat alongside a bottle of wine.
“The food menu is something that we’re developing,” says Sirikorn. “But the homemade pizzas and pastas available at the moment are proving to be really popular, so you can rest assured that they’ll remain on the menu.”
With pizzas starting at just B180 for a margherita, and all pasta dishes at B350, the food, like the wine, is also great value for money. Like us, you’re bound to leave Mondo Vino with wide smiles and a wish that all wine bars in Thailand were as fun and generous as this.
22/65 Naeb Kachat Road (near Putahracsa Resort), Hua Hin. Open daily 9am-9pm.
Tel: 032 531 493 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.mondovino.co.th