Find out which New York wine bars you should be visiting on your next trip to NYC, thanks to Ray Isle, Decanter.com stateside expert and current executive wine editor of Food & Wine.
Best for: 50% off Champagne after 10pm – every night
Master Sommelier Laura Maniec’s Union Square destination (there are branches in New York’s Chelsea Market and in Charlotte, NC) is part wine bar and part wine education center. Regular classes on the world’s major wines and regions augment the ambitious food (everything from simple snacks to full-on dinner entrees like lobster cavatelli with basil, lemon and chili) and extensive wine list. The focus is on artisanal producers from Europe and the New World, but the highlight is Maniec’s long-running “Champagne Campaign,” in which all bottles of Champagne—and there are many—are fifty percent off after 10pm, every night.
Corkbuzz.com; 13 E. 13th Street, New York, NY; 646-873-6071
The Four Horsemen
Best for: Youthful vibe and natural wines
The initial draw for many visitors to this Williamsburg natural-wine hotspot is likely the co-ownership (and occasional presence) of LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy. But what keeps people coming back is the menu of well-crafted dishes like black bass crudo in carrot dashi or a fresh snap pea salad with chilies, mint and ricotta salata from chef Nick Curtola, and, of course, the wine. In keeping with Williamsburg’s youthful vibe, the prices are low and the wines are lean towards the natural; hipster-approved producers like Pacalet, Cornelissen and Clos du Tue-Boeuf share space with old-school esoterica like Emidio Pepe’s lovely, funky Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Fourhorsemenbk.com; 295 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY; 718-599-4900
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Best for: If Wallpaper magazine did wine bars…
Austrian expat Aldo Sohm, the longtime wine director for Manhattan’s acclaimed temple to fish, Le Bernardin, opened this sleek spot in 2014 (in partnership with Bernardin’s Eric Ripert and Maguy LeCoze). The wine bar is situated across a covered alley from Sohm’s full-time gig, off 51st street in midtown, and the feel is very seventies modern, anchored by a big sectional banquet section (very soft; expect to sink in); orb-like hanging lights, shelves full of knick-knacks and paintings by Keith Haring, among others, complete the feel. The place is casual, but pricey Zalto glasses and an extensive, thoughtful list that rises quickly from a clutch of bottles around the $45-60 zone (Valle dell’Acate’s bright Frappato from Sicily, for instance) to more rarified offerings (’89 Ducru Beaucaillou for $620) suggest that midtown casual doesn’t exactly mean downtown cheap.
Aldosohmwinebar.com; 151 West 51st Street, NY, NY; 212-554-1143
Best for: Broad list, ambitious bar snacks and lots of Riesling
Terroir’s original East Village location sadly closed earlier this year, but owner Paul Grieco’s lively, storm-the-wine-barricades sensibility carries on at its Tribeca outpost (and, seasonally, on NYC’s elevated High Line park). The trend towards irreverent, commentary-filled, attitudinal wine lists pretty much wouldn’t exist were it not for Grieco’s example, and while the progeny aren’t always as clever as they try to be, Grieco’s list is: opinionated, surprising, and as much fun to read as it is to order from. Ambitious bar snacks like deviled eggs with lump crab, lamb sausage in sage leaves and pork belly sliders are ideal accompaniments to everything from—well, the range is, to say the least, broad. Flor-aged Pedro Ximenez from Andalucia rubs shoulders with Condrieu from Georges Vernay; flip one page, you get aged Turley Zinfandels, flip another, there’s an ’02 Grivot, Clos de Vougeot. And there is lots (and lots; it’s Grieco’s primary passion) of Riesling.
Wineisterroir.com; 24 Harrison Street, NY, NY; 212-625-9463.
Casellula Cheese & Wine Café
Best for: Cheese and wine lovers
At this longstanding midtown-west bar, it’s hard to determine whether the wine or the cheese takes top billing. Which is as it should be, given owner (and former fromager at The Modern) Brian Keyser’s passion for both. The place is tiny (it seats 39 people) and the cheeses—about 40, from all over the world, on a daily-changing list—are impeccable. The wine a finely chosen and largely not terribly expensive list of about 80 bottles, also from around the world, offers highlights like Niepoort’s complex Redoma Branco from Portugal for $55 and the 2011 Marchesi di Gresy, Barbaresco Martinenga for $110. The appeal here isn’t splurging on blue-chip collectibles; it’s indulging in an exploration of great cheeses and wines all chosen to complement one another. The trademark pig’s ass sandwich—a sort of refined Cubano, with thin slices of Shelburne Farms Cheddar, Fol Epi, and slow-roasted, spice-rubbed pork butt (i.e. shoulder)—is also not to be missed.
Casellula.com; 401 W. 52nd Street, NY, NY; 212-247-8137