The Best Natural Wine Bars In NYC

Where to find stubby glassware, disco balls, quirky small plates, and an abundance of blaufränkisch.
The Best Natural Wine Bars In NYC image

photo credit: Erik Bernstein

Just a few years ago, natural wine bars looked like a passing trend, similar to low-rise jeans and belly button rings. But now they’re everywhere, and low-rise jeans are making a comeback too. We’re all for it, but there are a few things you should know.

Natural wine bars are, above all, quirky. And we mean that in an affectionate way. In order to fully inhabit the label of “natural wine bar,” a place needs to have at least one of the following: creative small plates, a disco ball, a color scheme ripped from ‘80s cartoons, uncomfortable seating, a spoken wine list, a bathroom that's either trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Stubby glassware is also a prerequisite, although some spots are still holding out. Below, you’ll find our favorite natural wine bars in the city, with notes to help you pick the right one.


photo credit: Alex Staniloff

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$$$$Perfect For:First/Early in the Game DatesDrinking Good WineOutdoor/Patio Situation
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Are the glasses stubby? Yes.

Is it quirky? Just look at the name.

What’s it good for? A Tuesday evening with a book, or a Friday night with your roommates.

Behind this Bed-Stuy spot, you’ll find a pebble-filled backyard with leafy trees and mint green patio furniture. The outdoor space is similar to one of those tidy parks you stumble across every few blocks in Paris, and it’s perfect for when you want to sit and chat with some friends for an hour or two. There are only seven wines by the glass offered every day, starting at $13, but you can also browse bottles arranged along a wall in the café-like space. The lipstick red pool table is a plus, and service is casual and friendly.

Are the glasses stubby? Yes.

Is it quirky? “Sorry, no physical wine list.”

What’s it good for? Meeting the next person you’ll date for two weeks.

Sauced is a block party. The party begins on the patio out front, winds through the lively basement space, then spills out into the backyard where people in Doc Martens chug chenin blanc under branches and string lights. There’s no menu here, which means you have to discuss your wine preferences with a bartender who will help you find something tailored to your mood. Expect crowds, and come early if you want to grab a table and snack on charcuterie.

Are the glasses stubby? Nope.

Is it quirky? Is it ever.

What’s it good for? A meet-up with your friend’s cousin who reached out on LinkedIn.

West Village wine bar Moonflower has a psychedelic Lisa Frank thing going on. The walls and tables are covered in pastel paintings of plants and butterflies, the bathroom has a disco ball mirror, and there’s a piece of art showcasing a rainbow, a slice of watermelon, and some sort of terrier. On the wine list, you’ll mostly find European producers, with heavy representation from France, and a couple of wild card options tossed in. The 40 or so bottles range from around $50-$80, and wines by the glass start at $14.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

Are the glasses stubby? Surprisingly, no.

Is it quirky? Yeah. It’s tiny, and the menu changes frequently.

What’s it good for? Casual drinks, and casually incredible food.

If you don’t own a Four Horsemen tote bag, do you even like natural wine? Do you even know what carbonic maceration means? Did you even live in Williamsburg in the early 2000s and listen to Dirty Projectors? Four Horsemen opened in 2015, and it quickly became a destination for fans of innovative food and low-intervention gamay. These days, it’s busier than ever, and the space is still tiny, so reservations are tough. The menu changes often, but expect things like squid ink oeufs mayonnaise and skate with celery root remoulade. If you can’t get a table, pop in for a drink at the bar up front.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux



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Are the glasses stubby? No.

Is it quirky? Just a smidge.

What’s it good for? An impressive last-minute dinner.

Along with Four Horsemen, Wildair helped kick off the whole natty-wine-and-inventive-small-plates trend in NYC. It’s no longer tough to get a table here, so keep this LES place in mind for any last-minute dinners that need to feel cool and noteworthy. The seating is a bit awkward (only high-tops and barstools), but the French-ish dishes are fun and creative, and the wine list has a diverse selection that spans from Mexico to Hungary.

Are the glasses stubby? Yes.

Is it quirky? Please. So quirky.

What’s it good for? When you’re feeling frivolous.

The newest spot on this list, Greenpoint’s Lise & Vito fully commits to the “just goofin’” aesthetic of NYC natural wine bars (and a lot of new restaurants in general). The narrow room has a pink terrazzo bar and a couple of big velvet booths in the back, and it’s decorated with peacock feathers, a lava lamp, and a cat-shaped clock. Try one of the fancy jello shots embedded with edible flowers, and drink a Californian pinot gris with notes of tomato water. There are also cocktails and a few small bites available.

Are the glasses stubby? No. This is a place for swirling and sniffing.

Is it quirky? Yes. In a nerdy sort of way.

What’s it good for? Impressing anyone who uses “cellar” as a verb.

All of these bars are great for natural wine nerds, but Ruffian is the nerdiest. This East Village spot hosts classes, tastings, and events showcasing specific wineries, with guest appearances and special prix-fixe dinners. When you sit down, your server might say something like “Our wine list tonight is inspired by the voyage of The Odyssey,” and you’ll think “Ah yes, of course, why wouldn’t it be, ” before taking a sip of your orange wine from Greece. The food menu is entirely vegetarian and geared toward snacking, and the room is so narrow that you’ll elbow at least one person who’s trying to get past you to go to the bathroom.

Are the glasses stubby? Yes.

Is it quirky? The space isn’t, but the menu is.

What’s it good for? When you want to eat something that'll imprint itself on your brain.

Is Place des Fêtes a wine bar? They serve wine, have a bar, and call themselves a wine bar, so we have no choice but to use the label. But this earth-toned Clinton Hill spot is pretty much a full-on restaurant. They serve a handful of incredible seafood-focused small plates and interesting vegetable dishes, and there are always a couple of larger options (pasta, fish) on the menu as well. You come here mainly for the food—don’t skip the sardine toast—but the cocktails are great, and the wine list features a ton of mostly Spanish options. Tables can be tough to snag, but you can always put your name in for a seat at the bar.

Are the glasses stubby? No. June opened in 2015, before stubby glassware took off.

Is it quirky? Not really, and it doesn’t need to be.

What’s it good for? First dates. You’ll see so many.

June has been around for nearly a decade, but the Cobble Hill wine bar doesn’t feel dated. With its host stand, full dinner menu, and extensive catalog of bottles, this place is a little more traditional than the new arrivals on the scene—but it mostly just feels like a neighborhood hang. You can camp at the bar and have a drink or two with someone you met on Hinge, or you can sit at a table and chat with a few friends over grilled asparagus and ricotta toast. The intimate room is filled with carnivalesque globe lights, and it’s always stuffed with people chatting about siblings, careers, and romantic expectations.

Are the glasses stubby? Yes.

Is it quirky? There’s a disco ball, and the bathrooms are tiny, so kinda.

What’s it good for? Drinking a lot of a lot of different things.

Another longstanding natural wine bar, even older than June, Ten Bells is still going strong on the Lower East Side. The wine list is huge (want a jeroboam of Alsatian cremant?), the tapas are reasonably priced and more than decent, and the antique space is dark, noisy, and charmingly cramped. Swing by for Happy Hour for dollar oysters and $15 carafes of wine, and make some new friends at the communal table in the back.

Are the glasses stubby? Yes.

Is it quirky? Aside from a single LED light and a few octagonal tables, not really.

What's it good for? Low-key evenings on the Lower East Side.

Skin Contact isn’t trying too hard, and that’s why we like it. The space is dark and mellow, and there’s a patio out front where you can hang out and observe the latest fashion trends inspired by the early-2000s VMAs. If you’re looking for a good selection of wines by the glass, stop by and see what’s available. You might find some muscat from southern France with strong notes of geranium-flavored Betty Crocker frosting, or you might encounter a German chasselas made from grapes hand-picked under the light of a full moon.

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