Wine is much more than an accompaniment to a great meal at these 10 wine-focused bars and restaurants—it's the star of the show. All across the country, the wine bar-scene is hitting its stride, offering guests access to unfamiliar and rare bottles, creative “wine flights,” and phenomenal food pairings. From upscale drinking establishments to neighborhood shops with “tasting bars,” wine enthusiasts now have more options than ever for a great sampling and snacking environment. These are some of our favorite places to unwind with a glass of the delicious elixir.
By Emily Wasserman
WHERE: New York City
The Platonic ideal of a wine bar? That would be Buvette, an all-day hangout that in New York's West Village that feels so perfectly Parisian it recently opened a second branch in Paris. With its inviting bartenders and convivial atmosphere (dainty platters of focaccia and bowls of nuts are provided gratis), there's no wine bar in the world where we'd rather spend an evening (or indulgent afternoon). Chef Jody Williams serves up French comfort food like coq au vin, mussels provençale and tartines, and offers an extensive wine list with Italian bottles and wines by the glass. As you take a bite and a sip, you'll want to linger all evening long.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide
The Pacific Northwest isn’t short on good vintages and Bottlehouse offers some of the finest. The wine bar features a “gallery” of wines from the Pacific Northwest region, and doubles as a tasting bar and shop. Guests can sample wines by the taste, glass or bottle, via custom flights (the aperitif flight is a must-do), or in inventive wine- and beer-based cocktails like the “Aurora” (rosemary-infused white port, cocchi americano, lavender bitters, lemon, and brandied cherry). Delectable snacks include house-made rillettes, pickled eggs, and artisan cheeses and meats paired to your wine selections by a resident cheesemonger.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Seattle Guide
Kazimierz World Wine Bar
WHERE: Scottsdale, AZ
Stepping into Kazimierz World Wine Bar feels like walking into a speakeasy; guests enter the bar through a backdoor, and candlelit interiors, stone walls, and live jazz music add to the mysterious ambiance. Visitors can choose from over 2,000 wines, and the bar also offers craft cocktails and global small plates. Popular dishes include Indonesian chicken kabobs and “Mendoza” flatbread with beef tenderloin and caramelized shallot.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Scottsdale Guide
Located in Chicago’s hip Logan Square neighborhood, Telegraph Wine Bar features a tightly curated selection of rare and fascinating European wines selected by sommelier Jeremy Quinn. The highlight for casual sippers is more than 20 by-the-glass options. The bar also offers a brilliant (and bargain) 3-course dinner for $35 ($50 with pairings) focused on seasonally inspired cuisine.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide
WHERE: New York City
Otherwise known as the “Elitist Wine Bar for Everyone,” Terroir boasts five locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Originally created as an addition to chef Marco Canora and co-owner Paul Grieco’s Hearth restaurant, the bar serves a variety of tantalizing tapas (try the fried sage leaves with lamb sausage) and compelling wines. The 78-page wine menu (er, manifesto) features everything from boxed wines and local ciders to Italian reds that clock in at $500-plus a bottle. If you like Riesling, you’re in luck: Greico, devotee of the varietal who travels the world evangelizing for the grape, features more than 100.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide
SE Wine Collective
WHERE: Portland, OR
Portland is known for its independent spirit and SE Wine Collective is no exception. Collective members produce artisan wines at an on-site, urban winery, and offer tastes, glasses, tap pours, and bottles at their tasting room. The seating area is made up of old barrels, and glass roll-up doors give visitors an inside-look at the winemaking process. Guests can pair their wine with small bites like brown-butter popcorn, wild salmon crostini, and local cheeses and charcuterie.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Portland Guide
Covell Wine Bar
WHERE: Los Angeles
We're willing to bet that Covell may be the only wine bar with a motorcyle handing on the wall, and an owner who describes himself as a “Bud-drinking boy from Oklahoma.” That no-pretension vibe is what you'll find at Dustin Lancaster's ode to the vine, along with more than 100 wine selections, friendly servers (who allow generous sampling exploration) and a killer mac-n-cheese.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Los Angeles Guide
Bin 26 Enoteca
Guests will have no trouble finding a bottle at Boston’s Bin 26 Enoteca. The restaurant and wine bar offers an international wine list with more than 60 wines by the glass and 200 wines by the bottle. In addition to its extensive wine list, the bar also features a seasonal menu with regional ingredients. Guests can sample everything from red beet spaghetti with shrimp and tomato confit, to black and blue filet of beef “tagliata” with arugula and Pecorino cheese.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Boston Guide
WHERE: Washington, DC
Also known as D.C.’s first wine bar, Veritas offers more than 70 wines by the glass served using a temperature-controlled tap system. The hands-on staff selects favorite wines of the week to be featured at a steep discount, and also creates tasting menus around their favorite vintages. Guests can complement the deep wine selection with a broad variety of cheeses, charcuterie, and artisan chocolate truffles.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Washington, DC Guide
Inspired by his travels in Spain's Basque country, Chef Jose Garces opened Tinto in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square with inspired traditional and modern tapas from the region. Menu favorites include albondigas meatballs, chorizo chips with lobster cream, and lamb brochette served in shot glasses of soup. The well-edited wine list features sherries, and Spanish whites and reds, as well as sangria and regional ciders.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Philadelphia Guide
WHERE: Las Vegas
Look no further than the Las Vegas strip for one of the country’s best wine bars. Named after a high-ranking category of Italian wine, D.O.C.G. offers a casual drinking environment and a wide variety of wine. New York chef Scott Conant crafts the bar’s menu, which includes traditional Italian dishes like pizza, pasta, steaks, and chops. Exposed brick and reclaimed wood interiors add to the rustic ambiance, and sommeliers offer expert wine recommendations.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Las Vegas Guide
Veritas Wine Room
Owners of Veritas Wine Room Brooks and Bradley Anderson earned their Level 1 Certificate from The Court of Master Sommeliers, and offer a frequently updated wine list with more than 350 labels and 20 wines by the glass. In addition to wine, the bar features Texas cheeses and meats, chocolates, imported food items, and craft beers. Guests can enjoy a glass next to the bar’s stoned-in interior fireplace, or relax on the outdoor patio.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Dallas Guide
Terroir Natural Wine Merchant
WHERE: San Francisco
San Francisco is known as a wine hub, and Terroir Natural Wine Merchant offers some of the city’s best vintages. Located in a small storefront in the popular SoMa district, the bar and wine shop features an international selection of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines, and a rotating menu of cheese and charcuterie. The shop also hosts wine club events and visits with expert winemakers.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's San Francisco Guide
WHERE: Austin, TX
The Austin wine bar and market, Vino Vino, features a curated list of international wines, and allows guests to select their own bottle at an in-house wine wall. Wines ranges from sparkling rose to Argentine reds, and are served by the bottle or by the glass. Visitors can complement their wine with one of the bar’s celebrated small plates, including lamb tartare with paprika vinaigrette and flatbread with sage and prosciutto.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Austin Guide
D’Vine Wine Bar and Shop
Nestled in a quiet suburb of Atlanta, D’Vine Wine Bar and Shop offers a laid-back atmosphere and a convivial drinking experience. Owner Bob Leavey’s “Wall of Wine” features more than 600 bottles, and guests can also enjoy a glass, half-bottle or flight at the shop’s intimate bar. Small plates and antipasti complement the wide selection of wine, including artisanal cheese, charcuterie, and fresh-baked ciabatta bread.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Atlanta Guide