8 Unpretentious Wine Bars Slideshow
August 24, 2011
Terroir (New York City)
Fans of this wildly popular wine bar won't hesitate to tell you that it is truly one of those rare finds in the wine world that doesn't forsake cool-kid attitude for pedigree. Both are done effortlessly with the same smoothness you might find in a glass there. To be sure, their big, fat binder of a wine list could easily intimidate were it not for the charmingly disarming presentation (think cartoon illustrations and snarky anecdotes) and an on-top-of-its-game staff available to guide you through it all.
"We wanted it to have the vibe of a California vineyard tasting room," explained co-owner Caleb Wines. And indeed, the focus here is on creating a warm, welcoming environment where learning and talking about wines as you taste them encouraged. In keeping with the theme, the menu is completely dedicated to California wines — over 70 are offered by the glass and dozens more by the bottle.
Bacchanal Wine (New Orleans)
This lively, no-frills spot definitely brings Big Easy attitude to the concept of a wine bar. Located in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, the wine shop/wine bar/restaurant/live music venue is a perfect place to grab a seat around a patio chair and enjoy a bottle of wine (or two) with a group of friends. The concept is pretty simple: Buy your wine in cheese in the front retail shop, then head out back to the courtyard where you can order food and listen to live music seven nights a week.
House Wine (Austin, Texas)
Considering this Austin wine bar is actually located in an old renovated house, it's difficult to imagine how one couldn't feel at home here. Dedicated to supporting the community by hosting the work of local artists and playing host to area musicians, House Wine also serves Austin's wine-loving crowd well with an impressive selection to choose from. Plus — bonus! — they offer a different type of happy hour special every night.
Vino Vixens (Portland, Ore.)
It would be easy to pass by this unassuming spot and not think of it as anything more than a small local wine shop in Portland's Inner SE Powell neighborhood. But to do that would be to miss the shop's 500-plus varieties of wine, not to mention its back lounge area that is complete with comfy couches, board games, video games, and free pool and foosball tables.
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar (Chicago)
Located in Humboldt Park, this wine and beer bar with a focus on small-production producers describes itself as "a labor of love from three former Webster Wine Bar employees" — and it shows. The watering hole may have a wine list that is well traveled and dressed to impress but the vibe is decidedly low-key and welcoming.
Cellar Wine Bar (Denver, Colo.)
'Snobs need not apply' seems to be attitude at this inviting Denver wine bar that has won locals over with its friendly and attentive service, smartly chosen wine list, and $5 glasses-of-wine happy hour special.
This popular Philadelphia wine bar, known for its great happy hour deals, describes itself as being "all about passion, not pretension." And to emphasize this point, they even have a Fermentation School program with on-going wine, beer, and cheese classes hosted by producers excited to share their knowledge.