With ocean breezes, Art Deco design, and a cutting-edge collection of restaurants, South Beach is poised to deliver when it comes to hip wine-sipping spots. During a recent jaunt to this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood that hugs the Atlantic Ocean, and where the streets are lined with jaw-dropping Art Deco buildings resembling layered pastel wedding cakes, I dropped into a mix of new and old favorites for a glass of wine. Here are half a dozen highly recommended spots for kicking back with a glass of wine in style.
660 at The Angler's
Within the lobby lounge of this 46-room boutique hotel along Washington Avenue is 660 at The Angler's, designed by the same person who worked on the late Gianni Versace's Ocean Drive mansion a few blocks away. One can also dine on the front terrace, which is covered with foliage, or at a chic black-and-white outdoor space near the pool. Wines can be paired with contemporary Latin dishes—for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch, a mix of tapas and entrees—prepared by Chef Carlos Torres. For example, short-rib empanadas or snapper plancha (snapper with sweet plantains in a tarragon sauce with bacon) can be paired with 17 wines by the glass including selections from Chile, California, Spain, Argentina, and New Zealand. There are also five sparkling wines by the bottle, from the budget-friendly Cristalino Cava (Spain) to Moet et Chandon Imperial Rose (France). Eight additional bottles from lesser-known labels, such as Guarachi Family Wines Chardonnay (Sonoma County), are on the wine list, perfect for groups sharing tapas.
What Juvia—perched on the penthouse level along Lincoln Road, and celebrating its first year this month—does best is the view. Snag a table on the outer edge of the outdoor seating area and you'll be treated to a panoramic view of Miami Beach. On a weekday for lunch I splurged on one of three bento-box options and matched the tuna poke (and a cupcake!) with a glass of Albarino. Under the direction of executive chef Sunny Oh, the menu puts a modern spin on Asian fare, like foie gras sautéed with grapes, pineapple mango chutney, and hazelnuts; and milk-fed pork confit with shitakes and sour cabbage. Match the complex cuisine with one of 17 wines by the glass (from a cult favorite like The Prisoner, a red-wine Napa Valley blend; or a 2000 Dom Perignon) or pick a bottle from the hefty four-page wine list. This list includes the perfect pairing with Asian food: Champagnes from France (21 choices). Before you leave, take a peek at the vertical garden.
For a dip into the depth of Italian wine varietals, stop into the brand-new Dulce Italian (open since January), which is Gale South Beach and Regent Hotel's restaurant and bar. The hotel opened in December. Grab a table on the terrace, which is on Collins Avenue across the street from the Delano, which offers great people-watching. Naturally, the list of mostly Italian wines—from Puglia Primitivo to Amarone from Veneto—are designed to pair with the Italian food (pizzas prepared in a wood-burning oven and steaks) at Dulce Italian. All but three wines are available by the glass, too, which is a rare pleasure.
RED, The Steakhouse
If you're an unabashed food snob then RED, The Steakhouse's South Beach location—others are in Boca Rotan, Fla.; and Cleveland (the suburb of Beachwood)—is your place. Decadent, limited-time offerings, like the recently offered 5-ounce wagyu raised in Magasaki, Japan for $99—make this a favorite restaurant among celebrities. I started at the bar with a glass of 2010 Sanford Winery Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County, California) and liked it so much I ordered a second to sip with King salmon on a bed of lobster ravioli. With a 21-page wine list you may very well want to start with a glass at the bar as I did—otherwise, how will you ever decide? While many of the wines cost under $100 a bottle there are some gems well worth their steeper price tag, such as 1967 Bertani Amarone ($600) and various vintages of fantastic French wines like Chateau Lafite-Rothschild (1990) and Chateau Latour (1995), for $3,370 and $1,804.
Vesper American Brasserie
When The Shelborne South Beach underwent a top-to-bottom $20 million renovation in 2011 and 2012, this 200-room Art Deco property on the oceanfront side of Collins Avenue also added Vesper, a day-to-night eatery near the pool. Nine wines are poured by the glass and they aren't your standard picks: instead, it's Moet et Chandon Champagne (France) and Brancott Estate Pinot Noir (New Zealand) among the offerings. The food menu is a delicious detour from most poolside foods, think warm homemade doughnuts with dipping sauces, Cabernet Gorgonzola sliders, or mac & cheese spiked with jalapeno.
At The Setai Grill, in the The Setai Miami Beach, the focus is on more than just wine. All meats are hand selected and cut by Pat LaFrieda & Son Meat Purveyors in New Jersey, there's caviar sourced from areas around the world, and for when that's not enough, you'll even find salads topped with truffles and foie gras rougie terrine. If you're pressed for time, consider The Setai Lounge where small bites (charcuterie, artisan cheeses, oysters, and desserts) can be paired with the wine list. An entire page of bubbles features everything from moderately priced Brut and Taittinger labels to the $9,500 1999 Louis Roederer Jerobuam double magnum.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo Credits: 660 at the Anglerâ€™s: The Anglers Resort; Juvia: Juvia|Miami Beach ;Dolce Italian: Menin Hotels, Inc.; RED, The Steakhouse: Red, the Steakhouse; Vesper American Brasserie: Menin Hotels, Inc.; Setai: The Setai.