There’s something extraordinary about the experience that can be had at a wine bar. Traditional bars don’t typically house a wide array of bottles, and wine at most restaurants is often relegated to playing a supporting role to food. Even an oenophile’s private collection, as varied as it may be, isn’t accompanied by a knowledgeable expert who can pour a glass of unfamiliar wine and also discuss the subtle aromas, acidity and finishes.
From flavorful culinary experiences to romantic evenings, a wine bar for all occasions can be found in Manhattan. Some pour their glasses with Michelin sophistication; others hope to reintroduce sherry and port as de rigueur varietals. Here, top concierges dish on wine bars that share a friendly atmosphere beckoning guests to sit down, ask questions and learn from their taste buds.
Taking its name from the clay vessels used to age vino thousands of years ago in Greece and Rome, Anfora fittingly offers a list of wines made in the ancient way. The bar also serves an array of liquor and beer in addition to sandwiches, salads, cheeses and charcuterie to complement whatever’s in your glass. (34 Eighth Ave.; 212-518-2722; anforanyc.com) —Jeanie Voltsinis, chef concierge at Viceroy New York
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels has hundreds of bottles of wine on its list and an assortment of small plates with French cuisine. “It’s an unbelievable wine bar with biodynamic wines and small and large producers that are quite popular. The sommelier always has something off the beaten track, and every night they have a secret wine. … If you guess it, you get the whole bottle.” (249 Centre St.; 212-343-3660; www.compagnienyc.com) —Jeanie Voltsinis, chef concierge at Viceroy New York
With four locations around the city, Terroir’s witty approach to pairing food and drink takes the stuffiness out of the wine bar experience. The TriBeCa bar’s menu offers time-tested classics as well as sips that represent a new age of enjoying wine, and also highlights pieces of information about wine that prove to be as entertaining as they are informative. With beer, cider and an assortment of light bites, Terroir is a wine bar with a clever, youthful sense of humor. (24 Harrison St.; 212-625-9463; wineisterroir.com) —Gunter Kleemann, chef concierge at The New York Palace
Corkbuzz has locations in Union Square and Chelsea Market, and is the perfect stop for those looking to learn a little more about the vinous experience. Master sommelier Laura Maniec offers daily happy hours with blind tastings. “They do a lot of wine tastings and educational seminars and classes. … It’s one of my favorite places. They are incredibly knowledgeable and you come away with an education about what you’re drinking.” (Union Square: 13 E. 13th St.; 646-873-6071) (Chelsea Market: 75 Ninth Ave.; 646-237-4847; corkbuzz.com) —Jared Gullekson, chef concierge at The London NYC
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Opened in September 2014 and named after a star sommelier, the Aldo Sohm Wine Bar is an offshoot of the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Bernardin. The bar hosts guests for lunch or dinner with temptations like grilled foie gras lollipops, truffle pasta and homemade tuna tartines. “It’s a beautiful space and it’s a great pre- or post-theater place. The wine list is spectacular, … and the small-plate food is amazing.” (151 W. 51st St.; 212-554-1143; aldosohmwinebar.com) —Jared Gullekson, chef concierge at The London NYC
Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar
“Blue Ribbon Downing Street Baris an intimate space that offers small plates to enhance your drinking experience.” The bar stocks a curated list of old-time cocktails and wines that span the globe, from Japanese sake to Greek whites. Wine can be ordered by the taste, glass, bottle and half-bottle, making it the perfect place to find your new go-to selection. (34 Downing St.; 212-691-0404; blueribbonrestaurants.com) —Josephine Danielson, chef concierge at Four Seasons Hotel New York
“I adore Casellula on West 52nd Street. The vast selection of cheeses and wines are matched with a friendly, knowledgeable staff. They are tried and true but always worth revisiting.” Using wine to complement the complex flavors in an array of cheeses from around the world, Casellula takes a casual approach to its thoughtful couplings. With approximately 130 different wines in addition to beer, mead and specialty sodas, everyone will find a pairing that piques his or her interest. (401 W. 52nd St.; 212-247-8137; casellula.com) —Frederick Bigler, chef concierge at The Peninsula New York
“I recommend Uva. It’s a great wine bar. They have great Italian food as well. It’s casual, very local and stays open late. It’s a hidden jewel here on the Upper East Side.” In addition to the selection of wine, Uva offers diners a range of tapas and entrees, including meatball specials on Monday nights to enjoy on the backyard patio or in the wine cellar. (1486 Second Ave.; 212-472-4552; uvanyc.com) —Waldo Hernandez, chef concierge at The Carlyle
“Terra offers a … popular small-plates menu and an extensive list of Italian wines by the glass. With a great selection of sharable small plates like their lamb chops, pastas and charcuterie under $12, along with a casual communal dining table and long bar, Terra is fast becoming a buzzy neighborhood favorite. Insider tip: [The] subterranean dining room is often used for private parties and can be rented.” (222 W. Broadway; 212-625-0900) —Carmen da Silva, concierge at Tribeca Grand Hotel
—Written by Lauren Matich