When one thinks of vintners, it’s often rolling hills dotted with vines and farms that comes to mind. While you won’t find either in New York City, you will find a diverse array of wine bar offerings — including a number of wineries and a soon-to-be urban rooftop vineyard — making the Big Apple a great place for any wine aficionado. To help you explore NYC through your glass, here is a guide to the best wine bars in NYC.
Brooklyn Oenology – Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Oenology is a winery that combines local artwork with New York-made wine using Long Island and Finger Lakes-sourced grapes. In fact, the works in the rotating exhibits are used as stickers on the wine bottles, so once you’re finished with your merlot of chardonnay you can keep it as your own small piece of art. Additionally, New York beer, spirits (even absinthe!), cheeses, pickles, crackers and more are offered to patrons. Make sure to check out their event calendar, as happenings like $1 oysters (Fridays from 7pm on), sushi pairing dinners, educational classes and more, or just head to the winery from 5pm to 7pm any day of the week for their 2-for-1 special. We recommend trying their two signature wines, the “Social Club White” with flavors of crisp apple and pear and the “Social Club Red” with decadent notes of fig and chocolate.
Red Hook Winery – Located in Brooklyn’s industrial/trendy Red Hook neighborhood, Red Hook Winery offers tastings of whites, reds, roses and sweet late harvests paired with beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty. Created by a Brooklynite along with two Napa Valley winemakers, the venue sources grapes from 15+ New York vineyards. Savor wines like a “Jamesport Vineyard Merlot” (Long Island grapes), “Macari Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon” (Long Island grapes), and a “Seneca Lake ‘Erebus’ Reserve” (Finger Lakes grapes) — which does a great job of proving not all rieslings are sweet — before heading outside to enjoy the waterfront. Tours and tastings take place on weekends from 1pm (tastings start at $5 for three wines, while for a tour and tasting combination with five wines it’s $15).
Note: While not yet open, winery worker Devin Shomaker is in the process of opening the world’s first commercially viable rooftop vineyard — Rooftop Reds – with 240 vines atop the Brooklyn Navy Yard and production taking place at Red Hook Winery. As the name suggests, the focus will be on major Bordeaux varietals including merlot, petit verdot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.
Sweet Revenge – This cozy West Village restaurant and bar focuses on pairing wine and beer with brunch, lunch, dinner and, possibly the most fun menu, cupcakes. In fact, Sweet Revenge got its start by showing people it wasn’t weird to enjoy a decadent mound of cake topped with cream cheese frosting and a glass of vino. While some were skeptical at first, the idea eventually caught on as patrons realized the venue’s idea wasn’t odd, but genius. Cupcakes are baked fresh in-house, with a list of signatures always on the menu as well as a rotating selection of specialty offerings. One must-try is the namesake “Sweet Revenge” cupcake, a peanut butter cake stuffed with ganache and topped with peanut butter fudge frosting, served with an Argentinian “Juan Benegas Malbec” or a German “Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss.” Happy hour offers discounted pairings Monday through Friday from 4-8pm ($10 for select wine and cupcake combos and $15 sangria carafes!). Tip: Keep an eye on their calendar, as they often host events and classes for visitors to further their wine knowledge.
Terroir – With a name like Terroir Wine Bar, you know this venue is a good choice. The term “terroir” refers to a vineyard’s soil, climate, landscape and viticultural practices, and how these come together to affect the wine’s character. In essence, when you taste a wine’s terroir, you’re tasting the land it comes from. Terroir Wine Bar embodies this idea. In fact, it’s in their “Terroir Credo,” which makes statements like wine must taste yummy, must represent place and must resonate with fruit. Moreover, the venue serves possibly NYC’s largest selection of high-quality wines — over 50 by the glass! — from popular and lesser-known still wines to sparkling to fortified wines like Sherry and Madeira — delicious when paired with their Olive Oil Cake. Other noteworthy bites include charcuterie boards, smoked salmon deviled eggs, fried pea risotto balls, and veal and ricotta meatballs until late. Note: Terroir has multiple locations around NYC, including the East Village, Murray Hill, the High Line and Tribeca.
Corkbuzz – If you’re a wine connoisseur or just love being in the company of vino experts, Corkbuzz is the place for you. Located in both Chelsea Market and Union Square, they offers set flight menus that allow you to try a range of wines, as well a Blind Tasting Happy Hour on select dates from 5-6pm where you can test your palate. Some wine recommendations from their expansive wines-by-the-glass menu include the “Mont Marçal Cava Reserva Brut” from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Spain, the “Petra Unger Gottschelle Reserve Grüner Veltliner” from Kremstal, Austria, and the “A&A Devillard Le Renard Pinot Noir” from Burgundy, France. This is also a great venue for those wanting to expand their wine knowledge, with an array of classes offered like “Kosher Wine,” “Tour of France” and “In-Depth Sherry,” to name a few. Private wine dinners and special events enhance the venue’s offerings. Tip: Visit during their weekend brunch, where bottles of Champagne are 50% off and delicious entrees like Pork Belly Eggs Benedict, Duck Confit Salad and a hearty Bone Marrow Brisket Burger are on the menu.
This is a guest post by Jessica Festa, a native New Yorker, writer and certified sommelier. Jessica is Author and Editor of websites Jessie On a Journey and Epicure & Culture, and a contributor to many publications including Huffington Post, Sherman’s Travel, Gadling, and AOL Travel.
What’s your favorite NYC spot to indulge in fine wine? Tell us in the comments below.