Located in the neighborhood of 15th and South in Philadelphia, JET Wine bar is not the first place you’d think of when looking for a drink. Had I not stumbled on to this place a year ago, when I talked owner Jill Weber into letting me throw a Eurocircle party, I never would have thought to come in for a drink. Two great wine tastings later, and JET is definitely one of my favorite, casual bars where I can just pop in without a reservation.
Small and unpretentious, the bar window opens to counter top table facing the street. The stool just in front of this window is the best seat in the house, and after the tastings, Eurocircle members crowd around it, to finish the evening splitting a bottle of wine and enjoy some small plates.
Archeologist by profession, Jill developed an obsession for wine while stationed on digs in the countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Inspired by diverse and unique grapes of the region, she returned to Philly to pursue her second passion, wine. Her mission was to make these unique wines accessible to Philadelphians, and I’d say she has achieved it. Her wine list is full of uncommon blends, from vineyards you need a UN security escort to visit.
Recently, we hosted another Eurocircle event, this time focused solely on the wines of the Balkans. As a native of Serbia, I grew up loving my Vranac, and spent years trying to convince anyone who’d listen to give the grape a chance. I watched with pride as Vranec Pro Corde won 5 gold medals at the AWC competition in Vienna, and a gold at the prestigious “Les Citadelles du Vin” 2012. Apparently that wasn’t enough to impress, as it’s still nearly impossible to find a bottle locally, so occasionally I splurge on shipping and order a case from New York.
This time, determined to prove everyone wrong (an of course to show off), I invited Eurocircle to a Balkan Wine tasting with Jill. She sourced four types from regions of Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia, promoted by the Balkan Wine Project, a company committed to introducing the grapes in the United States. There was the fragrant Tanjanika, the crisp Zilavka, and the award winning Morava. The group was enjoying Jill’s demonstration, and everyone marveled at the quality of the wines. Finally, she opened a bottle of Vranec, and the vote was unanimous- this was everyone’s favorite. At this point, giddy and flushed from so much great wine, we teetered upstairs, to share a late dinner.
Wile the wines are the focus of this little neighborhood gem, the food is just big enough to hit the spot. Everything on the menu is fresh and shareable, with daily specials that are always delicious.
If you are in the neighborhood, stop by at JET Wine Bar, 1525 South Street in Philadelphia. And if you are looking for some new and unique wines, contact the Balkan Wine Project to see what’s available in your area. For photos from Eurocircle’s Wine Tasting at JET, scroll down to the bottom of this page.