Landing the perfect wine bar—especially amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City—can prove a challenge. A chilled glass of white while soaking in the sun is what New Yorkers crave in the summer humidity, and yet nothing beats gathering together with some friends and cozying up in the snug corner of an under-the-radar wine bar when temperatures drop.
When searching for a place to sip our favorite varietals—or ones we’ve never tried—we want a space intimate enough to spill our latest secrets, but one which doesn’t forgo atmosphere. Or, a great place for date night when a full-on dinner isn’t in the cards. From casual East Village haunts to art deco charm in Brooklyn, the local travel experts at The Plum Guide have curated a list favorites, along with some under-the-radar gems you’ll want to return to again and again. Here, the best wine bars in New York City.
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
Is there anything more romantic than the idea of sipping on wine in the corner of a dimly lit bar in Paris? A red lipstick mark on the side of the glass; a vintage Chanel jacket hanging over the back of your velvet chair…a girl can dream.
And when there just isn’t time to hop on a plane and dart to the cobblestone streets of The City of Light for a drink, there’s La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in downtown Manhattan. This bar provides the most enchanting of French atmospheres in NYC, with untreated wooden factory tables, inventive bites like Cast Iron Leeks (drowning in brown butter), and a wine list that would feel right at home in the Loire Valley. It’s a favorite of those who know good wine—after all, this spot is serving from a selection of over 600 bottles.
Located in the historic East Village, bars don’t come cozier than Ruffian. With over 250 carefully-curated wines by the bottle and an ever-changing selection of by-the-glass options, this bar (dating back to 1861) had a rich and colorful past, before artist and designer Elena Hull Cournot transformed the space into a go-to for those looking for a mixture of ambiance and top-notch vino. A visit to Ruffian will quickly prove that a space can be light and congenial as well as personable and cozy. Eagled-eyed art lovers will notice influences from artists like Pina Bausch, Os Gemeos, and Georgia O’Keeffe, while everyone will be able to appreciate the well-thumbed wine list.
Have & Meyer
Imagine a chic, rustic penthouse apartment with exposed brick and a laid back feel; now, add 90+ bottle wine list and you’ve got Have & Meyer. At this Williamsburg go-to, there are antiques and trinkets dotted everywhere, adding to the air of enchantment. Perhaps the most bewitching part about this bar is that it’s wholly unpretentious. Don’t know how to pronounce a type of wine? Not a problem. Not sure exactly what it is you like because you’ve been hooked on your favorite cocktail for ages? They’ve got you. In short, this Brooklyn bar is welcoming and warm—both in feel and in attitude.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Offering over 40 wines by the glass and 200+ by-the-bottle options—as well as a monthly flight program—this wine bar is for the more dynamic drinkers among us, and those with a real passion for wine tasting. Though the double-height ceiling makes this space feel vast, as evening sets in, the bar begins to feel like the living room of a friend’s (albeit pretty palatial) apartment. If you’re new to town, or just looking for another favorite haunt, Aldo Sohm embodies the energy of New York and packages it up neatly with good food, great wine and particularly comfy couches. Another perk to this spot? It’s located in the middle of Manhattan, making it convenient for after-work drinks, date night, or a girls night out.
Black Mountain Wine House
Curl up by the fire at this farmhouse-chic bar in Brooklyn—it’s the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re at a ski chalet while staying local. When the weather is good, those in-the-know head to the rustic sun deck for a pick-me-up, but it’s during the chillier months that Black Mountain Wine House really comes into its own. Guests come to enjoy the dance and crackle of the working fireplace, the anonymity offered by the low buzz of chatter, and to revel in small-production vintage wines by the glass.
Awarded a Wine Spectator’s 2019 Award of Excellence, this Manhattan haunt focuses on old world and natural wines, with a rustic, down-to-Earth atmosphere. Expect charcuterie boards and cheese platters piled high with perfectly-paired nibbles and warm, friendly service. Head to Anfora for after work bites or a wine-and-cheese night that will double as a dinner out; trust us, this hotspot may be all about the wine, but the bites here are dinner worthy.
Gottino Enoteca e Salumeria
This pocket-sized establishment, or ‘enoteca,’ is perhaps the worst-kept secret in town—but you’ll never feel like you’re stuck in a long queue at this no-reservations gem. Built around a long white marble bar that spans almost the entirety of the space, Gottino is the type of place to retire to with a friend when you have several hours worth of office gossip to unload. Choose from their ever-changing list of options by the glass or bottle, and be sure to sample their share plates. While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, (particularly their cheeses and charcuterie) we suggest ordering their radicchio and brussel sprout salads along with the baccala mantecato, a whipped salt cod served with deliciously toasted bread.
With three locations across the city (in Chelsea, Midtown, and Union Square), Pierre Loti is the perfect antidote to the overcrowded city scene. The bars pay tribute to the world traveler, novelist and romantic by offering wines and dishes from across the Mediterranean and around the world. The wine menu contains over 30 varieties by the glass and 200 by the bottle, while the food menu includes delights such as pan-seared cauliflower and zucchini walnut pancakes.
Low-key, quirky, and upbeat, Terroir may appear to not take itself very seriously—but it’s a different story when it comes to its wine and food. This relaxed, brick-lined wine bar features community tables and manages to cultivate a cozy vibe through the proximity of its guests and low ceilings. A large by-the-glass menu is complemented by Italian tapas and staff who love it here as much as the customers do. This Tribeca staple also hosts wine tastings for groups, if you ever fancy topping up your vino knowledge.
This unassuming watering hole in an old tenement home can only fit around 30 people at any one time, adding to the intimate feel of the space. Here, wooden floors and furniture meet exposed brick walls, candles flicker on every table, and the vibe is relaxed and open. The Immigrant is the perfect backdrop to a date, a pre-dinner drink, or catching up with friends long into the early hours.
The Campbell Bar
If you fancy leaving the concrete pavements of New York behind for a while and entering a world of gothic romance, complete with looming fireplace and stained-glass windows, then you’ll definitely get on with The Campbell Bar. Located in Grand Central Terminal at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue, just off 43rd Street, this bar is an iconic New York institution, restored to its original grandeur. Today, a thoughtful wine menu sits perfectly alongside a classy cocktail list. Evenings here are sure to turn into night as you lose track of time, wiling away the hours amid the rich furnishings and towering palm trees.
With so many things on our check-list of what makes a good wine bar, we thought it was asking just a little too much to expert natural vino everywhere we go. However, if somewhere offers it, then that’s a bonus in our books. June, a natural wine bar and restaurant in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill, boasts much more than a delicious drinks selection. Expect a long marble bar framed by a dramatic vaulted ceiling and art deco charm oozing from every corner.
The vibe is friendly, so perfect for a pre-date drink to settle the nerves, and it gets livelier as the night goes on, though we’ve yet to visit on a night where it feels overly-packed. If you’re looking for an evening away from the crowds, where you can just kick back and relax, then June is an option full of romance – the kind that won’t make you cringe.
Lois is the passion project of two friends who wanted to bring great wine and great food to New Yorkers who understand that accessibility and quality are not mutually exclusive. Yes wines are served from the tap, rather than by the bottle, but this thoughtful little bar is anything but a gimmick. The reasoning behind this seemingly 100% hipster decision, is actually to keep prices low, reduce waste, and make sure the wine is really fresh. The atmosphere is friendly, the crowd are the kind that will shuffle around to let you in, and the small plates on the menu include the delicious avocado arepa (corn masa, spicy aioli and pickled onions).
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