The city’s bustling wine scene has something to offer every palate preference out there, from die-hard natural wine lovers to fans of the classics alike. However, with a plethora of options to choose from, as well as the constant rise and fall of existing places, knowing where to go is key.
Here is a round up of the best places to drink wine in New York (Manhattan), with an added five bonus places in Brooklyn – yes, the trek is worth it, we promise. As the world begins to open its doors, safely imbibing in New York’s best wine bars is one of the greatest ways to celebrate. Forget what you heard during the pandemic – New York is back and better than ever, complete with a whole new terrace culture, too, thanks in part to the city’s safe attempt to keep restaurants afloat. Check out 15 of our go-to spots below.
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La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
In the realm of great New York City wine bars, La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is the best in the business. With over 450 bottle references, mouthwatering small plates, and impeccable hospitality, La Compagnie checks all of our boxes – and the sultry, dim-lit ambiance is one of a slew of added bonuses.
The bar’s massive wine list caters to classicists and natural wine lovers alike, and for those not sure where to begin, the team’s many knowledgeable sommeliers (likely clad in a Hawaiian shirt, should you visit on a Friday) are always eager to help with a recommendation. Although the list is over 70% French, traditional and up-and-coming bottle selections from Italy, Spain, and off-the-beaten path countries (Hungary, Slovenia, and beyond) can also be found. Described by the New York Times as “a sliver of the Sixth Arrondissement” in Nolita, this French-inspired bar à vin promises to overdeliver – we’d even go so far as to say that the NYC offshoot is even better than its Paris-based original location.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Best for the classics
When looking for a place to pop something delicious, Midtown Manhattan is generally one of the last neighbourhoods we’d seek out. Thankfully, Aldo Sohm Wine Bar provides a wine-soaked reprieve from the many surrounding theatre bars. Named after the bar’s eponymous founder, globally-renowned and Best Sommelier in the World winner (2008) Aldo Sohm, the bar’s welcoming and laid-back vibe caters to a variety of wine drinkers. Inspired by the design of Aldo’s own living room, the bar’s relaxed-yet-elevated approach to tasty food and wine is undeniably the best in the neighbourhood. Expect small, tapas-style plates such as harissa-roasted carrots, cheese boards, and more, served up alongside a rotating selection of over 40 wines by the glass/200 bottle selections (as well as an ever-changing monthly wine flight programme).
Best for natural wine
Natural wine lovers seeking impeccable food, service, and wine in their glass will find themselves regulars at Ruffian. Tucked away in New York’s East Village, the bar’s natural-focused list highlights producers from both classic and off-the-beaten path regions, ranging from Mallorca to Western Georgia to the islands of Greece and beyond. Over ten orange/skin-contact selections are offered regularly, alongside a handful of by-the-glass red, white, rosé, and sparkling pours. The bar’s food offerings are mostly vegetarian and are served à la carte. Although the inside of the bar is rather cosy, Ruffian extended their seating post-COVID to include a handful of outdoor high tops. Given the amount of success the team has found in the three short years it’s been open, we’d say the future looks bright.
Best by-the-glass programme
Terroir has been finding its way onto Best Wine Bar and Best Wine List round-ups for years now, and the reason we’re still including it speaks volumes to its consistent level of excellence and hospitality. Spearheaded by eclectic sommelier (and bona fide Riesling lover) Paul Grieco, this unconventional wine bar offers an impressive 80+ wines by the glass at all times, 30 of which are Riesling. For those looking to taste through a variety of wines while learning from a highly knowledgeable team of sommeliers, grab a seat at the bar and allow them to lead the way. Terroir’s food offerings are equally extensive, with a menu boasting oysters and blistered shishito peppers to burrata, Korean fried chicken, wiener schnitzel, and more. Terroir also opens its Main Room for private events from 12pm until midnight for seated, structured dinners, and wine tastings for parties of 10 to 90 guests.
There are no shortage of great places to drink wine in SoHo, but when it comes to eating just as well—and in a killer ambiance, no less—no restaurant holds a candle to Charlie Bird. This happening spot on King Street boasts a brick-lined dining room and spacious bar, as well as extensive outdoor seating options. The only thing better than chef Ryan Hardy’s signature pastas is the flawless wine list and hospitality-driven mentality of the staff. Expect extensive Burgundy, German Riesling, and bubbly selections from the list, as well as thoughtfully-curated picks from California, Italy, and the Languedoc. Charlie Bird’s overall vibe fully embodies a casual-meets-professional ambiance, yet everything is executed with meticulous attention to detail. Don’t skip on the razor clams, pastas, or farro salad, and allow the establishment’s new wine director, Theo Lieberman, guide you through the restaurant’s epic list.
Best for wine flights
Founded and owned by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec-Fiorvanti, Corkbuzz Wine Studio is the ideal place for tasting a variety of wine in flight format. The bar boasts two locations, Union Square and Chelsea Market, making the spot’s stellar wine lists accessible whether you find yourself on the east or west side of the city. While Chelsea Market is more bar-focused (think smaller space and food offerings), the bar’s optimal location within the overarching space makes it ideal for taking wine to go (in-market only) and enjoying alongside a variety of treats from different food purveyors.
Union Square is the larger of the two locations, complete with a spacious bar, full dining room, high-top bar seating, and seasonal outdoor garden. With over 40 wines by the glass and 250 bottles on the list at all times, we still recommend the staff’s curated wine flights the most. Perhaps the most interactive flight of all is the regular blind tasting flight, complete with tasting grid and all. For those looking to test their tasting skills under the guidance of a friendly sommelier in a laid-back environment, this is the place you’re looking for – and while here, don’t skip out on the housemade ricotta, duck rillette, or signature CB burger.
Sometimes a splurge is just what the doctor ordered, and for a wine-focused treat, heading to The Modern won’t disappoint. This iconic restaurant is an institution in New York’s food and wine scene, located within the equally renowned MoMA. Museum, wine, and all-around joie de vivre enthusiasts, you don’t want to miss this one. The restaurant’s two-Michelin starred menu is curated by chef Thomas Allan’s seasonal dishes are only made better when enjoyed with a curated selection from the restaurant’s Bible-like wine list, of which each sommelier has been highly and thoroughly trained on. Best of all, the dining room overlooks the Sculpture Garden, which adds to the overall aesthetic. Expect traditional picks from classic regions, with an ever-rotating by-the-glass programme. However, we recommend ending the night with vanilla bavarois and a hefty pour of something strong.
Best for French wine
Whether hitting the opera or catching the ballet, no Upper West Side night is made complete without a pre-theatre stop at Bar Boulud. Centrally located on 64th and Broadway, this long-standing wine staple has become a destination for both uptown and downtown wine lovers alike. Known for their French-heavy list and Mediterranean-inspired plate, this quasi-casual dining spot has plenty of indoor and sidewalk seating, which only adds to its elevated bistro feel. The menu features brasserie favourites (steak frites, coq au vin), as well as Mediterranean mezze platters and Greek dips – even the charcuterie is flown in from Paris. Boulud’s love for the great wines of France’s Burgundy and Rhône regions is apparent from the wine’s French-heavy list (Boulud himself is a Lyon native), though thoughtfully-curated picks from lesser-known French and American regions are in no lack. And of course, when in doubt, perusing the cellar’s Champagne selection is never a bad idea.
Best new to the scene
Long known for beer-heavy dive bars and classic American steakhouses, New York’s FiDi neighbourhood was basically New World Cabernet country – that is, until Crown Shy opened its doors. The brainchild of chef James Kent (Eleven Madison Park, the NoMad) and Jeff Katz (Del Posto), this impressive new restaurant prides itself on meticulous small plates and a well-curated wine list, all of which is meant to be shared. The restaurant’s diverse menu features something for every palate, from housemade bread to hummus with nduja to roasted eggplant with coconut curry, homemade pasta, and beyond. The only thing more versatile is the spot’s lengthy wine list. Expect 15-17 affordably-priced wines to be available by the glass at all times, ranging from classic California Syrah to skin-fermented Italian Pecanico, classic Provencal rosé, and a whole lot of dessert wines in between.
Best for natural / organic wine
Tucked just below 14th Street, this sister bar to l’Artusi offers a plethora of natural-organic wines, both by the glass and by the bottle (beer, spirits, and cocktails are also available). The bar focuses exclusively on ‘old world’ selections, with plenty of gems smattered amongst the list. Expect go-to picks from France’s natural wine scene (l’Octavin, Robinot, Tue-Boeuf, and beyond), as well as other under-the-radar selections from Catalonia, Abruzzo, and Austria. Anfora specialises in small plates, thoughtfully-made bar snacks, and sandwiches, as well as homemade charcuterie and cheese boards. Every month, Anfora features a specific producer or spirit of the month through special pours, menu items, and classes, so be sure to stay tuned as to what’s next for this cozy West Village bar.
Top 5 Brooklyn wine bars
Best for casual sipping
This sister wine bar to Carroll Gardens-based Frankies 457 Spuntino is perfect for those looking to grab a quick bite washed down with a glass of something delicious. All of the classic favourites at the neighbouring restaurant are also available at the wine bar, as well as a curated selection of small plates served up in a more casual, laid-back setting. Both spots were founded by Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, chefs and co-owners of the Frankies Spuntino group. The bar’s ever-changing list and hefty seasonal cocktail offerings promise to please a variety of palates. Expect a solid by-the-glass mix featuring the classics (Peter Lauer Riesling, Piedrasassi Syrah) and natural wines (De Vini Melon de Bourgogne, Clos de la Grange Sauvignon Blanc) side by side, as well as a featured producer of the month and a hefty 400+ bottle list. Frank’s Wine Bar now has an outdoor patio with extensive space to enjoy your vino al fresco. Reservations are encouraged though not required.
Best for wines by the glass
Finding a wine bar with more than 15-20 by-the-glass offerings is a pretty rare feat – at D’Antan, you can expect around 100 at all times, all of which are natural. Aside from its impressive BTG programme, this Crown Heights-based hotspot is best known for its Piedmont-influenced cuisine, served up in small plate and full entrée formats. Don’t skip on the stracciatella, panzanella salad, and be sure to try at least one of the five daily pasta offerings. D’Antan was founded by Milan-born Alessandro Trezza, the brains behind Have & Meyer, Terre, and L’Albero dei Gelati. More than 50% of D’Antan’s by-the-glass wines are orange – yes, that means 50 skin-contact wines are available by the pour at all times – which pair beautifully with the restaurant’s northern Italian flavours. The small-yet-welcoming bar is rather rustic in design, clad with vintage ceiling fans and a few scattered tables outdoors, making it the perfect spot to cosy up for a date night or catch up amongst friends. For those looking to explore the world of natural wine without committing to by-the-bottle pricing, this is your spot.
Red Hook Tavern
Best “destination” spot
Sure, getting to Red Hook may be a bit of a trek, but places like Red Hook Tavern make it unbelievably worth it – and we’d confidently say that a wine-soaked meal at this renowned restaurant is worth the trip in itself. Tucked away on the corner of Van Brunt and Sullivan streets, this American-style restaurant boasts way more than just a delicious menu. Although highly regarded for their signature burger, the Tavern has recently become known for their impeccable wine list. Expect 15+ by-the-glass pours at all times, a good chunk of which are dedicated to fortified wines. Current features include pours by Arnaud Lambert, Moreau Naudet, 4 Monos, and Macari Vineyards, though 12 pages of go-to picks from Italy, France, Spain, and the United States, both classic and natural, coexist harmoniously on the list. Chef Billy Durney, the brains behind Hometown Bar-B-Que promises more than just great food – for wine lovers looking for a thoughtfully-curated wine list well worth the travel, this is the place to go. Patio, bar, and dining room seating are all currently available.
The Four Horsemen
Best for natural wine
Brooklyn dwellers with an affinity for natural wine know that The Four Horsemen is basically mecca. Located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Williamsburg’s Metropolitan Avenue stop, this bustling wine bar promises more than just tasty pours. Expect a small yet meticulously crafted menu of shareable small plates, most of which focus around fish, though vegetarian options are available – think razor clams, yellowfin tuna, smoked eel fritters, and celery salad. The bar’s welcoming and hospitality-driven staff ensure a seamless experience with the natural-focused list, and if you’re lucky, you might even run into partial-owner James Murphy (yes, that James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem). In terms of ambiance, the joint is half bar, half dining room, with a new outfitted patio space curbside. However, we can’t promise you won’t wait – though trust us, it’s worth it.
Best for wine al fresco
For Manhattanites, heading to Brooklyn’s Waterfront District on Columbia Street is a slight trek – though as we mentioned, some establishments are just worth it – and Popina is no exception. This adorable outdoor joint features a unique combination of Italian and Southern (United States) fare side by side, and the wine list promises to please an equally diverse spectrum of palates. Owner James O’Brien’s love for food and wine pushed him to venture around the world and discover the hidden gem flavours of viticulture and regional cuisines alike, and his broad array of tastes can be found on the wine list, too. Expect around 10 rotating pours by the glass in sparkling, rosé, skin-contact, white, and red options, plus a bottle and cellar list, each designated separately. Whether favourites of the natural wine world, young bottles from top Burgundy producers, or back vintage picks from Rayas, Jamet, or a slew of Italian producers piques your interest, owner James O’Brien has something for you. Don’t skip on the pimento cheese, homemade pasta selection, and hot chicken milanese.