The 12 Best Wine Bars In Houston

Where to drink a great glass of wine, or four.
The 12 Best Wine Bars In Houston image

photo credit: wall shelves full of wine bottles for sale at Light Years Wine Shop & Bar

The two most ideal places to drink wine are on your couch while wearing fuzzy socks or at a windswept vineyard with the winemaker’s border collie named Riesling sitting faithfully by your side. But when you’re sick with cabin fever or suddenly realize naming a dog after a grape seems too on-the-nose, drink wine at one of these cool, nerdy, or possibly haunted wine bars instead.


photo credit: Mikah Danae

Wine Bar


$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good WineSmall PlatesOutdoor/Patio Situation
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If you want to eat charcuterie and drink fabulous wine on a charming, busy street, hit up Montrose Cheese & Wine. Not only does it have a patio, but you get front-row seats to the main drag of Westheimer’s traffic pile-ups and cast of wanderers. Smear some spicy nduja salami on toast, sip a glass of rosé, and listen to some twee French pop pumping through the speakers all while gazing into the laundromat across the street.

Nearly everyone at the candle-lit bar at 13 Celsius is on a date. Because, in addition to having a stellar list and more by-the-glass options than other spots, 13 has a romantic energy. The place looks like it opened in 1935 and never changed. Paint is peeling off the walls, the ceiling is covered in patina, and baked brie and duck rillette go extremely well with a glass of zweigelt or chenin blanc—especially if you had to fight Houston traffic beforehand.

One of the most picturesque wine bars in Houston sits on the second floor of Local Foods in Rice Village surrounded by a blacktop parking lot. To get to the tiny space, you either have to take a horror-movie-looking elevator or ascend a cute flight of stairs. Once you’re in, it’ll feel like a 1970s conversation pit with more houseplants than seem reasonable. Their wine focus is less about highlighting specific producers or labels than it is about making sure you have a good time. Which is probably why most of the wine gets mixed into cocktails, like a blood orange spritz.

If you want to drink wine somewhere nobody knows your name, go to La Carafe. As the oldest bar in downtown Houston, it’s rumored to be haunted. (For the record, the only apparition we've seen here is a friendly yet disinterested bartender.) The wine list may be short and run-of-the-mill. But what La Carafe lacks in options, it makes up for in spookiness. The jukebox may or may not work, there are plenty of brooding dark corners with candles burning atop pillars of drippy wax, and the old paintings show expressionless, possibly deceased people. Bring a first date before wandering around Downtown.

Ask for a drink list at Light Years, and the bartenders will give you a funny look. As Montrose’s only fully natural wine bar, of course, there’s no physical list. And while a lot of people scattered around the bungalow bar might flex their knowledge of natural winemakers, it’s more than okay if you don’t. Just shout over whatever atonal world pop music is blaring through the speakers and let the bartender know what you like and don’t. They’ll pour you different, slightly funky wines to choose from before you squeeze into one of the tiny tables inside or stretch out on the patio.

Padre’s Wine Shop is all about business in the front and a party in the back. The relaxed Heights spot transforms from a stocked wine shop into a loungey wine bar with a spacious gravel patio. Along with offering wine by the glass or bottle, Padre’s sells food like raw oysters, fried bologna sandwiches, osetra caviar, and a wagyu burger. Most weekends, the place packs with bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and anyone who needs somewhere to decompress after brunch.

At Camerata, you drink wine with a side of education. The place looks like an industrial shrine erected in cinder block and leather instead of carved from stone, and the list clocks in at over 13 pages. Fortunately, bartenders know every single wine on it, including minute factoids about each bottle. And while there are some charcuterie options available and a few sandwiches from Paulie’s next door, getting nerdy with the staff is what Camerata is all about.

In a past life, this East Downtown building was a dingy punk squat and venue covered in graffiti where our staff may or may not have drank red wine underage. Now, it’s a posh, self-serve wine bar and bistro that plays Kaytranada remixes, which is either great for drinking in a big group or avoiding the conversation altogether. When you arrive, someone will open a tab and give you a key card. Pop the card into one of the slots on the wine wall, grab a glass, and select a one-, three-, or six-ounce pour of wine from whatever bottle you want. There are description cards, too. So you technically never have to speak to anyone if that's your speed.

The Library is a non-intrusive backdrop for people who want to hold hands and giggle over port wines, or maybe for work friends who like to split margherita flatbreads while spilling the latest office drama. The wine list at this Spring Branch spot is long enough to come with annotations, so unless you’re in dire need of reading material, stick to the more succinct by-the-glass menu. There's also a small outdoor seating area where you can bring your glasses and your pals.

Keep Mutiny in mind the next time you’re hanging out in The Heights and want to enjoy a glass of 2020 tempranillo and dunk a chargrilled shrimp into tomato vinaigrette with Texan hospitality. This restaurant-slash-tasting room has a farmhouse feel and plenty of room for your entire friend group to spend the evening with seasonal paella on the patio. For a more intimate experience, pull up to the bar for a French wine flight and their Ranch Board with wood-grilled sirloin topped with candied rosemary (ask for a side of berry-lemon marmalade).

Plonk! may not be as stylish as other spots on this list (it's in the back of a strip center), but the wine is great and the American bistro-style food might be even better. Instead of the expected wine menu headlines of red, white, or sparkling, Plonk! breaks down by-the-glass options starting with approachable stuff and moving into more esoteric options. Choosing something lower on the list might make you feel cool, like saying “film” instead of “movie.” But all the choices are equally drinkable. And snacks like crispy grilled shishitos and charcuterie, pizzas, and juicy burgers with guanciale go well with a glass of wine at the bar.

Pur Noire Urban Winery occupies a small corner downtown and holds the title of the only Black-owned winery in Houston. You can purchase wine by the bottle, but to get the best experience, reserve a spot for one of their wine tastings. For wine newbies, there’s a $40 “grand tasting” of six wines made by Pur Noire. There’s also charcuterie for sale but it has to be ordered 24 hours in advance, so plan ahead for a big date night.

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