Wine bars have become more popular than ever. And with good reason: they’re an excellent place to learn about wine and try new things. A great wine bar should be a place to relax, let your guard down and ask questions. It should also strive to introduce consumers to new and different wines in an unpretentious and accessible way. And above all, it should be a place where you actually enjoy hanging out, since wine is of course fun.
Because wine bars have become so increasingly popular, thousands have opened across the country. With this much choice, how do you choose? Using our criteria above as the guide, we have selected what we feel is the best wine bar in each of the major cities below. These wine bars are all awesome in their own way and we feel also match with the VinePair attitude and perspective when it comes to drinking and enjoying wine.
Obviously there are many great wine bars in many of the cities below that embody what we believe in, but if forced to choose just one, these are our selections:
Atlanta – Krog Bar
If you want to get into Spanish wine, this is your go-to. Krog Bar has been the standard-bearer for wine bars in Atlanta for over ten years and when you visit it’s easy to see why: it has an accessible, knowledgeable staff and a great selection in a laid back environment.
Austin – Aviary Lounge
Part wine bar, part furniture store, the vibe here is incredibly chill. And where else can you not only fall in love with a wine, but also the glass you’re drinking out of, and leave with the glass?!
Baltimore – 13.5%
This place has a loyal following in Baltimore, thanks to an accessible wine list with a variety of pour sizes, so you can have a small taste of many things or enjoy a bottle of one.
Boston – Spoke
They highlight small producers here and are great at shining a light on wines you wouldn’t normally encounter, helping you to expand your palette.
Charlotte – Corkbuzz
This New York transplant not only helped revolutionize NYC wine culture, it’s doing the same in Charlotte. Many members of the staff here are certified somms but that doesn’t mean this place is intimidating; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Their knowledge and approach makes you feel at ease and eager to explore.
Chicago – Bar Pastoral
Wine and cheese pair incredibly well together, with each bringing out different flavor expressions in the other. Bar Pastoral’s staff is well versed in that interplay. If you’re a cheese lover, this will be an amazing experience.
Cincinnati – Liberty Bar and Bottle
This place truly shows off the extent to which wine and craft beer culture is merging. The staff here focuses on European beers and wines, and their appreciation for these old-world offerings shows in their great selection.
Cleveland – Le Cave Du Vin
This place is a wine shop and bar rolled into one, allowing you to purchase a bottle of the wine you were enjoying by the glass and take it home.
Dallas – Veritas Wine Room
With a massive selection of over 400 wines, and 30 offered by the glass, you’re guaranteed to find a wine that suits your palette.
Denver – The Truffle Table
It’s not easy being a wine bar in a beer town, but The Truffle Table pulls it off excellently, helping to introduce suds fans to great vino. Thanks to their efforts, perhaps Denver will be a wine town in a few years’ time.
Detroit – Motor City Wine Bar
This place just makes wine drinking cool. Enough said.
District of Columbia – Cork
At Cork they champion small producers who are often practicing organic and biodynamic farming. This not only allows you to experience really interesting bottles, but also helps the establishment keep costs down by not stocking bottles by big name producers.
Houston – 13 Celsius
Houston is a great town for wine lovers and this place takes wine seriously. But that seriousness doesn’t mean they’re at all pretentious. You’ll encounter an incredible staff that’s skilled at helping you figure out what you like.
Indianapolis – Tastings
We love wine bars where you can taste before committing to a glass, since often describing what you like can be difficult. At tastings you can do just that.
LA – Bar Covell
There is no wine list here at all. That’s right, you have no idea what’s on offer. Instead, you talk to the staff and they select a wine based on your conversation. It’s an incredible concept that makes this not only the best wine bar in LA but one of the best in America.
Las Vegas – Hostile Grape
Located in The M Resort, this is probably the showiest wine bar on our list. But hey, it’s Vegas, after all!
Memphis – Flight Wine Bar
As you would expect from the name, Flight offers interesting tasting flights of wines, a great way to experience several different styles and determine which you prefer.
Miami – Lagniappe House
This place reminds us of our favorite hangouts. It’s just a cool place to go, chill and drink really good wine.
Minneapolis – Terzo
Terzo is an all Italian wine bar that has over 1,000 bottles with 50 offered by the glass. Their knowledge of the Italian wine world is vast and a visit is a great way to become obsessed with one of the world’s most famous wine producing countries.
Nashville – JJ’s Wine Bar
This is another wine bar that feels as homey as your living room, and just as unpretentious. Plus the wine stations they use allow you to try a bunch of different wines in one visit, which is essential when you’re trying to learn more.
New Orleans – Bacchanal
Is this the best wine bar in the country? Yep. Live music, an incredible backyard, and a staff that knows their stuff. All wine bars should be like Bacchanal.
New York – La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
This Paris transplant has quickly made a name for itself in New York. One of the coolest things they offer is a mystery glass. On any night you can order this glass and if you correctly guess the wine inside, you walk home with the bottle. It’s a fantastic way to get people to interact with the staff and talk about the wine. If you’re in New York and are seeking wine knowledge, this is the place to go.
Philadelphia – Tria
This place paved the way for wine bars in Philly, and it is still the standard bearer. In a town that also loves its craft beer, Tria honors both in a very accessible way.
Phoenix – The Whining Pig
Offering a laid back atmosphere, a great wine selection and craft beer for those that lean more towards the suds, The Whining Pig is exactly what you look for in a fun wine bar.
Portland – Noble Rot
Noble Rot has been around for years and continues to pour some of the most exciting wine in Portland, which is tough considering how much good wine from Oregon is available. Also, you can’t beat their view.
San Antonio – Copa Wine Bar
There is no pretense here, just great wine and people excited to talk about it.
San Diego – Vin De Syrah
Vin De Syrah is a place that truly turns wine into a party beverage. Celebrating all things vino, the bar is chill and laid back in the evenings, but as the night goes on the music starts pumping and that wine inspires people to dance.
San Francisco – The Hidden Vine
Located down a small alley in the financial district, this place has it all: over 800 bottles of wine and Bocce, our favorite pastime to enjoy while sipping vino.
Seattle – Le Caviste
At Le Caviste they very much want you to ask about the wine, which is why the only list is written on a chalkboard. And that’s a great thing, because the staff is friendly and passionate about what they’re pouring, which helps you discover a wine you may have never had.
BY: Adam Teeter