Where do you go,
In our city so fine?
Searching for bouquet and vine?
What will you do,
When the time comes to dine,
To quench your thirst for wine?

Wine is an art — intoxicating and deep. Its velvety texture entices us into a mysterious red ocean. It invites us and envelopes us. With abandon, we dive in voluntarily and luxuriate in this miracle down to the last drop.

I may be exaggerating but likely am not alone in fantasizing about a bath in wine or champagne. It turns out that NYC does make dreams come true. While most would visit the wine trails of Alexander Valley or St. Helena, New York City is the perfect substitute for a wine lover. Given an abundance of bars, it is no wonder that NYC is home to some of the best wine bars in the country. With so much competition, where do you go? How can you avoid the over-priced tourist traps and instead find unique, neighborhood gems?

No worries. I did the hard work for you. You owe me. Cheers! Salut! Na Zdrowie!

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by THE LIT. BAR Bookstore & Chill (@thelitbar)

1.     Bronx, The Lit. Bar

Since her teen years, Noelle Santos had a dream to marry her two loves: wine and books. The present-day result is a casual wine bar/library/bookstore that hosts readings, book signings/club and events. The concept is unique in the Bronx and caters to the artistic/literary crowd. Décor is minimal and a cross between a library and a cozy/quirky, European living room (even the wall of the bar is made of books). Lit. Bar is a casual place to work, read and grab a glass of vino. However, just like in a library, you may feel the need to keep quiet.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Harlem Wine Room (@harlemwineroom)

2.     Harlem, Harlem Wine Room (personal favorites: Prez Cruz Reserva Cab $13, Casa de Valle Vinho Verde $12)

In keeping with Harlem’s tradition of night life, Felix Paredes (owner of Harlem Wine Bar) turned a former cigar lounge (Papa Juan’s) into the new Harlem Cigar Lounge. Featured in the Cigar Journal and What’s Eating Harlem, the lounge is a focal point for many cigar aficionados and hosts the World Cigar Smoking Championship. Felix Paredes plans on applying the same passion and commitment to his newest acquisition: Harlem Wine Bar. Offering tapas, cheese plates and refreshing ceviche, Harlem Wine Bar is the perfect stop on your way to the music club in historic Harlem.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ardesia (@ardesiawinebar)

3.     Upper West Side, Ardesia (personal favorite: Bandol Rouge, Domaine le Galantin $16)

Hand-crafted cheeses and a wine subscription inspired the Zoom tastings during Covid (previously on-site tastings). This casual and contemporary wine bar is now open and boasts an impressive array of cheeses and tapas. Do not dare to leave without trying the fresh-baked cookies (worth every minute of the twenty-minute wait). The atmosphere is reminiscent of a gourmet shop, with high ceilings and a jovial atmosphere. Perfect for groups.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Wine Bar (@sofiawinebar)

4.     Upper East Side, Sofia Wine Bar (personal favorite: Barolo or Super Tuscan)

Sofia’s is an intimate, Italian wine bar with homemade pizza and pasta creations. You will feel right at home with the cozy, brick walls and an old-world atmosphere. If you are looking for romance, look no further. Sofia is perfect for a romantic and cozy date night. Surprisingly budget friendly.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vin Sur Vingt Wine Bars (@vsv_winebars)

5.     Midtown, Vin Sur Vingt Wine Bar (the Greenwich and mid-town east locations are temporarily closed, personal favorite: Pauillac… pick any one $75-550)

This is a personal favorite (especially mid-town east), with impeccable service and presentation. The atmosphere is contemporary and regal. With contemporary, minimalistic décor and dim, warm lighting the atmosphere is perfect for an elegant date, solitary breather, or a business meeting. Every visit is a treat. Given the grand wine selection it is one of the few places that I enjoy ordering flights (every sample is a delight). It is like being a kid in a candy store.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by CORKBUZZ by @LauraManiec (@corkbuzzwine)

6.     Greenwich/Union Square, Corkbuzz (personal favorite: Matthiasson Village No. 2)

Offering wine tasting/food pairing classes in four locations, Corkbuzz offers the vintages that are hard to come by. Depending on mood, the CB burger or the lamb chops are a must.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ruffian (@ruffian_nyc)

7.     Ukranian Village, Ruffian (personal favorite: Stilianou $64)

This place is a sweet find! Carefully pairing wine and freshest of food with gourmet offerings, the Ruffian presents the tastes of every season.  With a veggie-focused menu the result is a mélange of colors, pleasing to the eye and the taste buds. Must-try list includes Naked Calypso (mango, coconut, jasmine panna cotta), Rock n’ Hard Place (octopus confit creation) and Beets by Dyssy (colorful spring rolls with smoked golden beets).

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Somm Time Wine Bar (@somm_time)

8.     Lower East Side, Somm Time Wine Bar (personal favorite: Presqu’ile $16, Cabecas do Reguengo $16) and Bibi Wine Bar (personal favorites: Supernatural $15, 1881 Napa $64)

I could not make up my mind. These are both great. Much like the parents of twins that cannot pick favorites, either could I. Well… maybe Bibi, but do not tell anybody. Both wine bars have a great happy hour and a loyal neighborhood following. The Somm is the perfect, intimate venue to quietly sip the more unusual and unique choices/blends. Its décor is reminiscent of a wine cellar. Bibi has an amazingly balanced selection (which faithfully represents most wine countries/regions) and is truly the hidden gem that keeps you coming back for more. The airy, large space with wooden floors reminds one of a traditional, French wine bar. Bibi is the perfect spot on a cool, summer evening when all the windows open.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Compagnie (@compagnienyc)

9.     Soho/Little Italy La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturales (personal favorite: Uivo $17)

French wines paired with a healthy Mediterranean menu forecast a recipe for success. With over 1,000 bottles to choose from and a cozy, rustic interior, La Compagnie is sure to please the harshest of critics. With an amusing choice of “mystery wine” (glass $15) guests are encouraged to guess the wine and win the bottle.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Black Mountain Wine House (@blkmtnbk)

10.  Brooklyn, Black Mountain Wine House (personal favorites: Rose Bubbles $15, Lugar dar Condesa $11, Occam’s Razor $11)

A unique, farmhouse vibe makes Black Mountain a great place for a comfortable third date or even a family outing. The menu offers something for everyone: meatballs, charcuterie and cheese plate, fondue, salads, foie gras, and other small bites such as crostini. The wine list may get you through the door, but the fireplace, cozy surroundings, and friendly staff will make you stay longer than anticipated.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by DiWine Bar (@diwinebar)

11.  Astoria, DiWine (personal favorites: Alvaro Cereseda $11, Marchigue $11)

Brunch, happy hour Monday and live music on Thursdays is how DiWine keeps the locals happy. Share-able-sized meals complement the old-world wine list. Elegant, ambient lighting, outside garden, and brick/wood décor make it a cool place to chill and sip.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vinum Wine Bar NYC (@vinum_nyc)

12.  Staten Island, Vinum (personal favorites: Cantaloro $14, Tormaresca Neprica $15)

Decorated in the style of an Italian Osteria (with a simple, country-house setting), Vinum serves Italian tapas and wine. The meatball bar is a must (try the lamb and veal) as well as the scrumptious braised tripe, wild game board, Jamon Ibérico and duck. If you are in a mood for a cheese plate, may I suggest: Moliterno, Roquefort and Manchego.

Maria Raczka
+ posts

Maria Raczka is a published writer/reporter/editor, grant proposal writer, and public speaker. Her work has taken her across the globe, writing and winning funds for arts/non-profits.