Back to the roots with natural wine at JAJA Berlin

By Sarah Luisa Santos . May 6, 2016

jaja berlin

First of May was a small glimpse into what summer will offer us (kids take your sunblock with you, I totally underestimated German sun last Sunday!), and for those who enjoy a sunny afternoon with an Apéritif in hands, newly open JAJA Berlin is a good choice.

Founded by French-German crowd Julia and Etienne, the bar is all about good friends, good cheese and of course, good wine!

We talked a bit with the duo, to know more not only about JAJA Berlin but also what should we expect for the next Neukölln Shopping Nacht happening this Saturday.

How the idea of the JAJA started? Who are the founders? Why Neukölln?

Julia: We fell in love with Berlin back in 2010, when we visited the city for the first time, to develop the idea that we wanted to run a Berlin-­like bar in Paris. At that time, we ended up creating Udo, our Paris based bar where we proposed Curry Wurst, beer and lots of eclectic Dj sets.
We have never been to Berlin before. I was born in the north of Germany, and lived in Cologne, then moved to Paris. Etienne is an Auvergnat, passed his time between Marseille and Paris. As we had a stroll around Berlin, we felt really excited about Neukölln, which reminded us of our favorite Kiez/ Quartier in Paris, Belleville. We spun immediately ideas about opening a bar – of course – with wine and fromage (laughs). Actually the sausage and beer thing was just a joke between us, but then it ended up working pretty well, plus financed the cultural projects we had in mind. For example, we edited vinyl from improvised concerts at the bar and throwed twice a year a party to federate some of our favorite artists in a club nearby. Etienne had also a little gallery before and continued to invest in some art projects. So, we had already rented a flat with the hope to start our Berlin Project simultaneously to our Paris bar, but then things got very busy and we had to come to terms that we wouldn’t be able to do everything at the same time.
In 2014 we had the chance to get associated with Emeric Glayse to open a restaurant/ wine bar/ gallery/ bookshop called Düo just nearby the Udo bar, with Maori Murota, a Japanese chef. That brought us even closer to natural wine and we started to get in touch with winemakers of the wines that we just drank before, but couldn’t offer at our beer bar.
We also had a lot of help from Aaron Akira, who gave us some Sommelier advice and loads of stories via his blog about not drinking poison in Paris. But, running Düo and Udo without having any real formation in the gastronomy business made us very tired and we decided to break from the two beloved places to finally settle in Berlin. After 6 months of searching for a place we got lucky to meet Imad and Cécile and we signed for the space formerly known as Nouss Nouss in the Weichselstraße 7.

jaja berlin

What’s the concept of the JAJA bar?

Etienne: It’s the desire to propose natural wine and in the other hand to desecrate the wine, to disconnect it from its elitist image. Wine is made to drink it, to share it and certainly is the best beverage in the world to get high on, rebuild the world and it’s an excellent aphrodisiac too, if consumed moderately. In France we drink wine very differently than in Germany, it’s just part of our daily routine. One more reason to drink it natural, without additives, nothing taken out and little to non sulfite added, which helps to prevent the headache or stomach problems. We would like to share our experience with that kind of wine, without the industrial hocus-pocus – back to it’s roots, as a vital, living drink, that could surprise a lot, depending on its mood.

Julia: Exactly. Otherwise, there is not much of a concept, just loving wine, well, natural wine, and some natural food to go with it, and the pleasure to receive all kinds of people and to offer them the goods for a fair price in a laid back atmosphere.
It’s all well farmed stuff, from real people, not from the big businesses, people who love their labor, and respect the environment, animals and other people they make business with. Since wine, and especially natural wine, seems to be a very polemic subject, we just hope to reach our costumers and lead them to have their own stories and opinions, to share the pleasure of discovering tasty new things. As we are new to the neighborhood and the city, we will see step by step how to set up the right atmosphere, but we guarantee that some cultural interventions are about to come!

How do you select your menu?

Julia: On the menu you will find yummy items we love to consume ourselves, almost everything natural and bio or with biodynamic quality. The wine menu is based on wines we have drunk on private occasions. Concerning the French selection, some of them we import ourselves. Further European wines we discovered from small Berlin based importers. For the food selection, we have met some enthusiastic food lovers from whom we get it delivered from or we just go with the bike to get the goods. According to availability and seasonality, the product choices can vary. We offer just some easy plates to go with wine.

Anything special for Neukölln Shopping Nacht?

Wine, cheese and music, for sure!

JAJA Berlin
Weichselstraße 7, 12043 Berlin


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