The place: The Kitano, NYC’s first and only Japanese-owned
Wine Bars New YorkBest NYC Wine Bars
The scoop: This downtown apartment-turned-wine-cellar is tucked away in the heart of the LES. Hip hop and reggae playlists combined with the smell of freshly baked bread and a charming Italian bartender create a pretty dynamic sensory experience – and we haven't even gotten to the wine yet.
The scene: You may have overlooked The Ten Bells before ducking into Barrio Chino next door, but plenty of people make this their Friday night go-to, and it’s easy to see why. It sort of feels like everyone was just going to be here anyway, so they might as well build a bar.
The menu: Ten Bells specializes in all natural wines, which gives you the opportunity to drink copious amounts of alcohol while remaining “healthy.” For something gritty yet hearty, try the Bourgueil Cuvee Domaine ‘11. If you prefer a strong foundation but soft palate, we love the Bourgogne Blanc ‘11.
The scoop: When everything in New York starts feeling a little too… New York, head far enough downtown where the cobblestone streets and colonial buildings feel like you’ve been teleported straight to Boston.
The scene: A reserve wine selection of more than 500 boutique bottles exists, but don't be intimidated – the knowledgeable and unassuming staff will take care of you, every step of the way. And since you’re here, don’t ignore the eclectic whiskey menu, which includes Knappogue Castle 1951, the oldest Irish whiskey in the world. You’re sure to leave educated, a little tipsy and with a few less dollars in the bank – all very worth it.
The menu: Offering 80 wines by the glass, this exceptional wine bar allows you to prove to your friends how surprisingly lush the Dominus Estate Napanook ‘97 is without having to buy the whole bottle. Hey, if you’ve got the knowledge, flaunt it. Or pair the textured and flavorful Six Sigma Cabernet Sauvignon ‘07 with the duck confit – it melts in your mouth. This is wine-tasting at its best.
The scoop: So it turns out that NYC’s most unpretentious Italian wine bar exists in a seven-foot alleyway in Greenwich Village. Although this city thrives on small spaces, this particular 1800s passageway-meets-vampire den takes it to a new level. But upon entry, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The medieval-style gate complements the initialed padlocks hanging on shaded wall fixtures confirming that lots of love has been put into this nook.
The scene: It’s undoubtedly one of city’s simplest wine operations (they don’t even have a POS system, using swipe by phone instead). The classic leather banquette might be the only street furniture you ever get cozy on in a dim alley in New York. The low-key offerings and mood music make it a great place to duck in on a first date.
The wine: Pair the edgy Ferruccio Deiana Vermentino Donnikalia ‘12 with fresh oysters, or cozy up with the comfortably rich Raina Montefalco Sagrantino ‘09.
The scoop: Over the river and through the woods – as in, to Brooklyn – you’ll find a seasoned country cottage that’ll make you want to migrate towards the toasty fire, take off your skis and stay awhile (even in the warmer months). Worn wooden tables and hide-stretched lampshades create a cozy familiarity and warmth.
The scene: A good introduction to handpicked varietals, this is a great place for a first date, or to bring your family at the end of a long day. The crafty hemp-threaded menus may help prove them wrong about the cold hard city we know and love.
The wine: This unconventional Carroll Hill cabin hosts three wine blind-tastings on weekdays. If you’re looking to gain a basic wine knowledge for a reasonable price ($8–12 a glass), this is your place. Stay close to home with the memorable Hudson Valley Brotherhood Pinot Noir ‘12 or explore Arcadia with the Fteri Moschofilero ‘11.
The scoop: If you want to really step up your game and find rare, eclectic wines in the city, this is where you come. A humble yet knowledgeable staff will guide you through the tasting process in this modern, efficient Flatiron space. If that’s not enough education for you, you can attend one of their twenty wine classes a month. You will be hard-pressed to find a better all-around selection at a single stop.
The scene: Industrial lighting contrasts a Martha Stewart-like décor, creating a room to relax and learn in while a hip playlist thumps in the background. They offer half-price bottles of champagne from independent growers every night, 10pm to midnight. Cheers, wine collectors – you’ve found yourselves a happy hour paradise.
The wine: The team here has assembled a collection of home run after home run. Be sure to try the firm Mayacamas Merlot '08, the Ridge Vineyards, Three Valleys Zinfandel Blend ’11 – our favorite – and the Louis Michel & Fils Chardonnay ‘11. The menu changes frequently, but quality never suffers. Make sure to take advantage of their delightful menu, as well.
The scoop: A wrap-around marble bar and plush red Victorian-style couches envelop this seductively cozy East Village wine bar which specializes in unrecognizable French varietals and blends. It’s reasonably priced with great descriptions and lovely waitresses to assist you in the decision-making process – win-win.
The scene: Romantic and upbeat, Bourgeois Pig oozes charm and class; it’s the perfect escape from the busy avenues outside. For those with a late-night sweet tooth, à la vôtre. Dark chocolate fondue with Baileys and brandied cherries awaits.
The wine: If it’s a lack of pretense you’re after, try the Hugel & Fils Riesling ‘11. But if you’re in the mood to be bitten, grab a glass of Jean Pla Passion Grenache ‘08. Half-priced bottles on Mondays and Tuesdays will extend your evening – and your collection. Warning: Enough experimentation and you may end up on the chaise lounge at the end of the night staring up at the chandelier contemplating... Well, we’ll leave it at that.
(Photos courtesy of The Ten Bells, Vintry Wine & Whiskey, Black Mountain Wine House and Bourgeois Pig)