New York City’s 7 Best Wine Bars
This post is guest written by Shana Sokol, from the incomparable Shana Speaks Wine
Whether you met swiping an app, perusing online profiles, or in some good old-fashioned meet-cute way, you’re going to need a great place to impress your date. Wine bars tend to be the natural choice; usually lively but not so chaotic that you can’t hear your (potential) object of desire, they offer the flexibility of just a glass or a way to settle in for awhile if things are clicking. NYC is chock-full of options but not every place is done well; slapping 5 generic wines on a list alongside some snacks doth not a wine bar make.
A great wine joint offers ambience, an exciting selection of wines, solid bites and that certain je nais se quoi that makes it stand out from NYC’s oversaturated bar scene. Here’s a roundup of the 7 best wine bars in NYC to help you weed out the stellar from the so-so. Why 7? Well, you want to get lucky, don’t you?
Black Crescent – Lower East Side
Amongst the scrum of the LES frat boy nightlife lies this oasis of quality sips. The wine list is small but well curated and the sommelier is often bringing in new and unusual wines. Ever have wine from the Canary Islands? You’ll find a few options here. The cocktails are a standout if you want to veer away from the vino and the seafood-focused menu is shockingly good. Weekends are a bit of a party but come during the week for a mellower vibe.
Corkbuzz – Union Square and Chelsea Market
The brainchild of Laura Maniec, who is the youngest woman ever to receive the Master Sommelier certification, Corkbuzz is more than just a wine bar; this hybrid bar/restaurant/classroom/event space brings wine to a whole new level. With over 20 often-rotating wines by the glass and a staff that can drop 30 second nuggets of wine knowledge on a whim, this is a place to play with wine. Better yet, plan ahead and book seats at one of their classes, where you and your date can boost your wine knowledge in a fun and non-intimidating way.
Racines – Tribeca
The US offshoot of a Parisian wine establishment, Racines refers to itself as a “neo-bistro” and prides itself on the deep selection of French wines, many of which are organic and biodynamic. Food veers towards a traditional restaurant format of appetizers-entrees-dessert rather than the small plates that constitute most wine bar menus, making it the perfect drinks-to-dinner date spot.
Ardesia – Hell’s Kitchen
Chalkboard walls, soaring ceilings and a glass wall of wine make for a sleek wine-drinking venue. A large list with 30 rotating by-the-glass options spans the globe and ensures there’s something new and funky to try. The well-versed staff is always happy to chat about the pours and the bites are as elegant as the space (but don’t overlook their NY-style soft pretzels, which are some of the best in the city).
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar – Midtown West
Cusping on the Midtown/Theater District line, this new spot from Le Bernardin’s sommelier is one of your best bets in an area filled with expense-account restos and gaudy tourist-ridden chains (because no one likes their wine with a side of neon). Way less intimidating than its pedigree would belie, sip through the carefully selected yet accessible offerings as you marvel at the featherweight wine glasses. There’s a wide range of price points and a casual vibe that make this place feel like the fun uncle to Le Bernardin’s patriarch.
Vin Sur Vingt – NoMad and West Village
The NoMad area has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance and this French-centric wine bar is another strong addition to the constellation of bars, restaurants and hotels that have illuminated the area. While the West Village original is, as real estate brokers put it, cozy, the new offshoot offers more space to get comfortable. Whether it’s a seat at the bar or one of the banquette-flanked tables in the back, the extensive list lets you explore the renowned wine country, region by region.
Terroir – Multiple locations
Not feeling flowers and romance yet? Look no further than Terroir, serving up wine with a side of punk attitude. Back in 2008, Paul Grieco started Summer of Riesling, where the only whites served for the entire summer were, yup, Riesling. His doctrine was that there’s a Riesling style for everyone and damned if you couldn’t find one you liked. Flash forward 6 years later and 31 Days of Riesling, an offshoot of S.O.R., is now a global campaign with many wine bars featuring Riesling prominently on their menus throughout July. The wines are eclectic, the food menu is a pioneer in quality nibbles and the overall vibe is fun and energetic. The O.G. East Village location can get cramped but Tribeca and Murray Hill have a bit more breathing room. Also not to be missed is the seasonal bar atop the Highline.