Fine Living Top 10: U.S. Wine Bars

Fine Living Top 10: U.S. Wine Bars
Fine Living Top 10 : U.S. Wine Bars

Wine bars in the U.S.

This list of top 10 U.S. wine bars will take you on a coast-to-coast tour; it won’t take you long to see that wine bars are the place to go.

Number 10
The wine bar is a popular trend in the food service industry. Picture a tiny venue, tucked away on a side street, with an atmosphere unlike any club or pub anywhere else in town. Cozy, funky and relaxed, wine bars juggle plush furniture with exposed brick and rich wood accents to create a sophisticated and informal after-work experience. An energetic wait staff in starched linens combines impeccable service with a fine understanding of the world’s best wines. It’s the perfect place for after-work drinks or a smooth evening out, and it’s why wine bars are cropping up across the country.

Divine Bar
New York City, NY

If there was a prototype for a modern Manhattan wine bar, Divine Bar might just be it. With two locations, on the east and west sides of the island, Divine Bar prides itself on its funky, eclectic, downtown-chic style.

Divine’s east-end location bills itself as retro-modern. It marries Alice in Wonderland with brick walls, vintage posters, cobalt-blue lighting, polished steel, fireplaces, and plush velvet couches. Though it might sound like a mess of contrasts, the truth is that it works.

Not to be outdone, Divine’s west-end location doesn’t shy away from the same collision of styles. Here, red lighting contrasts with orange walls and zebra barstools to produce a second space that is just as unique as the first.

But is there substance to back up Divine Bar’s style? You bet. Taste from an extensive list of wines by the glass, by the bottle or by the flight. Or if you prefer, sample any of the 50 international beers or the house’s signature martinis, such as the Mr. Pink and the Platinum Cosmo. If you’re hungry, Divine’s tapas are stupendous as well. Try Cajun Spiced Lobster served with Conch Hush Puppies or the Mediterranean Olive Medley served with Garlic-Chive Hummus, Lemon-Feta Spread and Toasted Pita Triangles.

Number 9
Morrell Wine Bar
New York City, NY

Morrell represents the Old World in the face of the new wine bar trend. Here is a classic, serious tasting center that is located in Rockefeller Center and overlooks the famous midtown skating rink. It’s the perfect place to relax after a day of holiday shopping on the streets of Manhattan.

An offshoot of the Morrell & Co. Wine Emporium, which has been in business for nearly 60 years, the Morrell Wine Bar offers more than 2,000 bottles and 150 by-the-glass options. Some of Morrell’s finest wines are offered at $6,000 per bottle or $75 per glass. A good wine bar is nothing without expert sommeliers, and at Morrell, they know their way around a bottle or two.

You’ll find some rich food items on the menu at Morrell, each of which has been composed to match different bottles. The Foie Gras Club Sandwich with Port-Wine Jam is a Morrell classic, but don’t let that draw your attention away from the Smoked Hudson Valley Duck Breast with Petite Syrah Glaze.

Neither Philadelphia nor Dallas are considered wine centers, but they have wine bars to be envied…

Fine Living Top 10: U.S. Wine Bars
The Mercy Wine Bar in Dallas, Texas

Number 8
Philadelphia, PA

Rouge is a quintessentially French-inspired piece: seductive and cozy in the winter and open for terrace dining in the summer.

Rouge combines a lush ambience with French fare and wines; look for vintages that enhance the delicate nuances of classic and contemporary French cuisine, such as roast chicken with white truffle mashed potatoes, traditional steak frites and gingered tuna tartare.

What makes Rouge great is that it attracts crowds from all around Philadelphia, from the lunch and dinner crowds to the young-pro set.

Number 7
City Cellar
West Palm Beach, FL

City Cellar is a trendy Mediterranean restaurant with a charming outdoor terrace overlooking the City Place courtyard fountains. But it is the restaurant’s interior decor that truly sets it apart. The wood and polished-steel finishes are balanced to give the impression that diners are actually sitting inside a wine cellar. The lavish dining room offers an excellent view of City Cellar’s floor-to-ceiling refrigerated wine rack and cellar behind the main bar.

Decor aside, the wine list doesn’t disappoint. There are vintages in all price ranges and a matching menu that highlights sea bass, top sirloin and farfalle with chicken.

Number 6
Mercy Wine Bar
Dallas, TX

In the heart of Texas is a wine-tasting center that advertises “tranquility by the glass.”

This is Mercy Wine Bar: a warm, sophisticated and cozy environment where guests can either dine at tables or lounge on couches and comfy chairs. Mercy is all about the entire wine experience and its list is strong, to say the least. Many champagne selections jostle alongside the 100 or so bottles that are available for tasting by the glass. And if your taste strays from the grape to the grain, enjoy one of the roughly 20 beers Mercy has to offer.

Mercy's servers are able to assist in pairing a wine with any one of the signature dishes. The focus here is on smaller portions of food that complement the fine wines on display. One of Mercy’s signature dishes is the cheese plate, which is served with dried fruit, pears, apples, grapes, pistachios, olives, and crackers.

On to some wine bars in warmer climates…

Fine Living Top 10: U.S. Wine Bars
Wine bars throughout the U.S.

Number 5
Kazimierz World Wine Bar
Scottsdale, AZ

Make sure that you visit the Scottsdale’s Kazimierz World Wine Bar if you only visit one wine bar in the American Southwest. The recipient of several awards from the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine, Kazimierz offers more than 2,900 different wines, including many rare and vintage bottles. Choose from Portuguese reds, rare Lebanese blends, dessert wines from Arizona, and the wines of tiny producers and boutique wineries.

“It’s a great big globe full of terrific vino,” say the owners of Kazimierz, and that’s why they go out of their way to provide many varietals from lesser-known producers, as well as famous vintages.

Kazimierz’s atmosphere is comfortably plush, with sofas and chairs in vineyard colors, and candlight-softened stone walls. The music is usually a mix of jazz, Latin and world beat. Enjoy Kaz’s eclectic menu, featuring Apples of the Day with gorgonzola, arugula, walnuts, and roast red onions. Other great choices include the Chicken Liver Pistachio Pate, and the Indian Summer Bruschetta with slow-cooked yellow squash, red peppers and olives. For a real treat, head next door to sister restaurant Sea Saw, a hybrid Japanese-tapas bar. At Sea Saw, you will enjoy all sorts of Japanese fusion delicacies, served with chilled sake.

Number 4
Grape Street Cafe
Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas’ Grape Street Cafe opened in 1997, and it has become so popular that it’s common to see the waiting line snake out the door. Don’t let this deter you: Once inside, this Mediterranean spot is sure to delight.

A wine cellar motif highlights the interior decor. Think brick walls, an open ceiling, stacks of wine boxes, a concrete floor, grapevine-shaped iron lattice that flows through the bar, and custom-made imported tables and chairs.

Of course, Grape Street’s primary focus is on the wine. You may select from between 75 and 90 wines to sample by the glass or purchase by the bottle from the regular and reserve wine lists. Pair any of these spectacular bottles with starters like baked brie in a pastry pouch, and main dishes of grilled salmon or lamb chops.

Number 3

Madeleine’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro
Pasadena, CA

A secret U.S. military facility where Albert Einstein walked the halls is hardly a building you’d expect to see renovated into a wine bistro and restaurant, but Pasadena's historic Cheesewright Building is exactly where Madeleine’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro is located.

Inside, dark red, mustard and gold leaf accents set off a warm and dramatic main dining area, complete with high-beamed ceiling and a massive stone fireplace. Veteran Pasadena chef Claud Beltran prepares Madeleine’s cuisine, which includes Sea of Cortez scallops with stewed leeks and a luxurious saffron sauce, crab and Japanese cucumber salad with miso-truffle vinaigrette, and a venison tenderloin that comes with pearl barley and black grape-Cabernet sauce. Pair any one of these magical dishes with a bottle from Madeleine’s selection of 50 wines.

If you’d like to experience more than 300 champagnes, turn the page…

Fine Living Top 10: U.S. Wine Bars
The A.O.C. wine bar in Los Angeles

Number 2
Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles’ A.O.C. is the new ultra-cool place for wine on the West Coast. A sleek, modern decor is paired with an extensive wine list and Mediterranean-influenced mini entrees to make for an unforgettable experience.

A.O.C. offers more than 50 wines by the bottle, carafe, flight, and glass, and the servers will even pour a half-glass for anyone interested in experimenting. Of course, A.O.C.’s food is not to be missed; it features shared plates of salad, meat, fish, and veggies. The Roaring Forties blue plate is a winner with a robust red wine, while other main courses include lamb skewers with a feta salsa verde, and hearty salt cod and potato coated with a creamy bechamel.

Number 1
The Bubble Lounge
San Francisco, CA

The Bubble Lounge is one of the hottest night spots in San Francisco. Located on the historic block of Montgomery Street close to North Beach, the Financial District and Union Square, The Bubble Lounge opened in the spring of 1998 and was the first West Coast wine bar to offer an extensive selection of bubbly from around the world.

As its name suggests, the focus here is on champagnes and sparkling wines, with the aim of debunking the myth that these are only special occasion drinks. A list of more than 300 varieties has been compiled with expertise and control to offer the best range of choice to customers. Even the decor inside The Bubble Lounge is champagne-inspired: The walls are decorated with champagne collectibles and artwork, while the plush, overstuffed chairs and rich mahogany and marble tables are just as decadent as a fine vintage.

Hip to sip

If you didn’t already know, wine bars are hot. Sipping and chatting are becoming big business and wine bars are popping up all around the country. There are so many excellent wine bars across the U.S. that it’s impossible to list them all, but you’re sure to find one that suits your tastes.

Fine Living Top 10: U.S. Wine Bars


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