by Laura Kusnyer, 11/03/2008
New York City restaurants have never been short on well-stocked, sommelier-curated wine cellars, and it’s not hard to find great selections at places like 67 Wine on the Upper West Side and Sip Fine Wine in Brooklyn. Recently, though, actual wine bars have been popping up all over the City and what better time to enjoy a glass as fall winds down. Here are seven distinctive spots to sip the night (or day) away.
Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar
Flavor: This popular Midtown establishment offers some wine- and chocolate-induced Zen in the midst of metropolitan hustle and bustle. It’s an ideal place to share and sample with a group of friends.
Pair This: A flight of waiter-recommended reds with six Jacques Torres chocolate truffles
Casellula Cheese & Wine Café
Flavor: Perched on the edge of Hell’s Kitchen, Casellula is a cozy and casually chic café that never fails to draw a crowd for its eclectic, yet discriminating, selection of wine and accompanying menu. But what makes it really stand out is the staff’s insights and recommendations, which please even the most discerning of palates.
Pair This: Ask the staff for their favorite dishes, and be sure not to miss the grilled cheese, the French toast pudding or an order of the “Lady Sings the Blues” cheeses.
Flavor: Famed Morandi chef Jody Williams’ hotspot Gottino churns out some of the City’s best vino and small plates. Williams herself refers to it as a “gastroteca” (Italian Gastropub) which sums up perfectly its charming simplicity. Located in a simple space with a simple menu, Gottino appeals to people with equally simple pleasures. But simple in this case is far from meaning boring, as evidenced by the tasty apples stuffed with creamy cotechino sausage and the savory Italian bread dumplings.
Pair This: The aforementioned apples, the cheese platter, pate if you are in the mood and the amiable waiters will put the appropriate glass of wine in your hand.
Flavor: Just shy of having a full-on restaurant menu, you’ll want to come for the pannini and small-plate dining and work your way down the lengthy and adventurous all-Italian wine list.
Pair This: The great thing about the wine list is, while at first intimidatingly long, uncertainty is quickly replaced with the excitement of taking a tasting tour of Italy region by region. However, bring a few friends to split bottles if you’re in the sampling mood because the wine-by-glass selection isn’t as robust.
Flavor: One of the City’s most buzzworthy wine bars, Stonehome manages to be both homey and elegant. Located in the charming Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, it’s the perfect place in wintertime to retreat indoors with a large goblet of red. And in summertime, the lovely back garden makes for a perfect setting.
Pair This: One of the tasting flights (France, Italy or Around the World) and selections from their cheese and charcuterie menu.
Flavor: At their latest addition to their much-lauded list of restaurants, partners Marco Canora (of Craft fame) and Paul Grieco focus on fine wine and Italian fare. Further proving that wine quality and flavor is determined by a variety of factors like soil and climate, Terroir is a reminder of all our earthly pleasures.
Pair This: Veal and ricotta meatballs with a glass of Riesling.
Flavor: NYC’s first South African wine bar (pronounced “shy shy”) in Hell’s Kitchen is an ideal date destination with romantic lighting, rustic ancient cypress-log columns and generous pours.
Pair This: Definitely one of the mother country’s signature Pinotages with the artisanal cheese platter served with a variety of dried fruit, nuts and chutney.