The Best Wine Bars In NYC guide image


The Best Wine Bars In NYC

Wine bars don’t have to be pretentious, scary places. Here are our favorite ones in the city.

When you think of wine bars, maybe you think of places with red brick walls that advertise their free hummus appetizer on Groupon, right below the laser hair removal. Or maybe you think of the place where you went on a date with someone who lectured you about grape varietals. Fortunately, wine bars don’t have to be sad, pretentious, scary places. There’s a whole crop of spots with great wine, friendly service, and food options worth getting excited about. Whether you’re meeting a date for drinks, hanging out at the bar solo, or looking for a place to grab a glass of wine before dinner, here are some of our favorite wine bars in the city.


Claud review image



90 E 10th St, New York
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Claud is a wine bar in the East Village, and eating here feels like attending a party at the all-beige apartment of a bunch of hot chefs. Try to snag the table that butts up against the open kitchen: it’s the one with the best lighting, and the best view of the action. The wine list is extensive and diverse, and you can find some good options by the glass for under $20. Even though wine is a big focus here (you can even join the Claud Wine Club for $120 a month), the food is the real main attraction. We especially love the razor clams, chicken liver agnolotti, and chocolate cake.

Le Dive is in the middle of Dimes Square, the perennially-packed Lower East Side micro-neighborhood where fashion trends go to live fast and die young. So it should come as no surprise that this natural wine bar is kind of annoying. But that buzzy, annoying energy is part of why you come here (and visit Dimes Square in general). The space itself is fairly small, with a handful of stools and a single row of tables, but the seating-filled plaza out front has plenty of room for anyone who wants to sniff natural wine.

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photo credit: Kate Previte

Gem Wine review image

Gem Wine

Most places either feel like bars (where you can also maybe eat) or restaurants (where you can also maybe drink). Gem Wine, which is around the corner from its sister restaurant Gem, is that rare, perfect middle ground. You can order from a frequently changing menu of small plates, as well as more substantial options like lamb tartare tossed in a creamy oyster emulsion. There's no wine list, which means you'll have to discuss what you're looking for with your server. If you want to try some different things, there are a handful of wines by the glass for $15 each, and you can expect at least one type of red, white, sparkling, orange, and rosé.

At this wine bar from the Oxalis team, the wines by the glass are predominantly from Spain and Chile, and the limited food menu revolves around meats, cheeses, and exceptional little bites of chilled seafood. Stop by, give a few small plates your full attention, then drink some funky wine from fashionably stubby glasses as you and a friend touch base on your five year plan. There’s a big bar near the open kitchen for when you can’t snag a reservation. You can assume that will be often.

A good deal of natural wine-drinking happens on Bushwick rooftops, usually involving some combination of climbing a fire escape and a janky Bluetooth speaker. At Cherry On Top, things are a little more professional, although hanging out at this spot does feel a bit like being at a friend’s place. The funky list of wines includes plenty of glasses under $15 and bottles under $50, and there’s also a small food menu. You can drink your orange wine on a large rooftop or in an indoor area downstairs that we’d describe as extremely cute.

No matter how much you know about wine, you’ll have a good time at Ruffian. This 19-seat East Village wine bar has over 250 natural wines, mostly from small producers in Southern and Eastern Europe, and the knowledgeable staff is always happy to go into detail while pouring tastes of obscure orange wines from Greece or oxidized options from the Jura. You could also have a great time just sitting on their patio with a date, eating some excellent Mediterranean food, and drinking rosé from the “Beach Sipping” section of the menu. It's also worth checking out their other wine bar, Kindred.

Rhodora in Fort Greene focuses on wine made using small-scale, natural processes as part of the wine bar’s larger sustainable mission to produce zero waste. If you want to try natural wine from places like Germany, Austria, or a cave in Southeastern France, Rhodora has one of the best lists in Brooklyn. The brick-walled dining room has tons of huge street-facing windows, and there’s also a very pleasant outdoor seating area, and a bunch of conservas, snacking vegetables, and cheese on the menu.

The folks at Wildair run both a wine shop and wine bar downstairs in The Market Line. Despite the fact that the open-air space looks out onto an Ample Hills stall, Peoples feels a lot cooler than somewhere that’s in the basement of a food hall. This place is especially great if you want to try something you’ve possibly never heard of. Whether you’re looking for a bottle of orange stuff from Austria or just a solid, under-$20 chilled red, they’re always selling and pouring new bottles you likely won’t find at most other bars.

Another bar specializing in natural wines is June, a truly excellent neighborhood spot in Cobble Hill. The interior is small but cozy, and there’s a big backyard with lots of seating. This isn’t the kind of place you meet your friend of a friend who wants to network, or your clingy ex-roommate you’ve been putting off. This is the kind of place you come with people you really like (or for a first date), on a night when you don’t need to rush. It’s comfortable, it’s charming, and it’s reasonably priced enough that you won’t be horrified by your three-hour bill.

This is a French wine bar, but not the quiet/quaint kind. The layout is open, the atmosphere is lively, and it’s good for groups. Come with some friends and get your night started here. Or maybe just hang out at the bar and eat a meat and cheese plate by yourself. The next time you’re hanging out around Lincoln Center or Columbus Circle and you need a not-boring place to get a drink, keep Vanguard in mind.

The Ten Bells is a great Lower East Side standby, and the space has a ton of exposed brick, nice lighting, and is bigger than it looks. The big wine list is made up primarily of natural wines from France, with about 30 options available by the glass, and most importantly, they have a wine and oyster Happy Hour every day until 7pm. There’s a long menu of mostly Spanish small plates, but eating a full-blown meal here is unnecessary. Stick to the oysters and the wine, and you’ll be very pleased. They also have a second location in Bushwick.

Whether you come to Four Horsemen for their massive natural wine list, or because of the excellent small plates, or because it’s partially owned by a member of LCD Soundsystem, you’re going to have a good time here. The space may be small, but the bar and tables are both excellent spots for a date or small group hang. Be sure to ask your server for recommendations. The people here know what they’re talking about.

Aldo Sohm is admittedly a bit expensive—it is, after all, Le Bernardin’s wine bar. But the staff is really knowledgeable, and if you’re looking for an upscale place to meet for drinks (and some great small plates) in Midtown, this one is worth checking out. Wine nerds will love this place, right down to the Zalto stemware that retails for around $78 per glass. You’ll feel a little like you’re drinking in the lobby of a corporate office building, but it’s also oddly relaxed. You can get solid food here, too, including a charcuterie tower.

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