The Wine Drinker's Guide to NYC A SommSelect guide to great wine experiences in New York City.
FOR THE NATURAL WINE FIEND
Wine Bar: Ruffian Wine Bar
Don’t let its small size fool you—this “tiny-but-mighty” East Village wine bar is an absolute must for natural wine lovers. Over 250 bottles grace Ruffian’s wine list, which focuses on Mediterranean and Eastern European selections. Whether funky reds, zesty whites, or skin-contact selections are more your thing, the team at Ruffian’s got a curated selection for every preference. A rotating selection of small plates features seasonal ingredients, and a solid playlist ensures a fun, laid-back ambiance.
Spearheaded by acclaimed Chef Igancio Mattos, this downtown Mediterranean bistro is a no-brainer for natural wine fans everywhere. Here, Modern American fare meets a 19-page natural wine list, featuring selections from cult favorites like La Grange Aux Belles, Stéphane Tissot, and Mas Candí. The space is tight and quite noisy, so be sure to go with someone you don’t mind being squished up against. For foodies, natural wine lovers, or those simply looking for a scene, this is the spot.
Wine Shop: Wine Therapy
Located in the heart of New York’s Nolita neighborhood, this hole-in-the-wall wine joint has been a staple for natural wine lovers for years. Founder Jeanbaptiste Humbert was one of the city’s natural wine pioneers long before it was fashionable, and today, the shop boasts some of the industry’s most sought-after bottles of natural wine out there. Expect a familial vibe in a bottle-stacked, cozy ambiance.
FOR THE TROPHY HUNTER
Wine Bar: Bar Boulud Boulud’s restaurant empire has long been regarded for its high-end cuisine, though what would a respected food establishment be without an equally impressive wine list? For those looking to eschew prix-fixe menus and higher-end meals, head to Boulud’s more casual location, Bar Boulud, for a more laid-back yet equally sophisticated wine experience.
Although New York isn’t short on great places to find trophy bottles (Tribeca Grill, The Modern, and The Grill, to name a few), Bâtard takes the cake. Located in the city’s Tribeca neighborhood, this posh French restaurant boasts a Bible-like (and French-heavy) wine list laden with unicorn bottles from the world’s most fetishized growing regions, including Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne.
Wine Shop: Morrell Wine & Spirits Merchant
A New York City institution! Sought-after wine allocations from wine shops are few and far between, though if you’re looking to press your luck, Morrell is a great place to start. Located in Rockefeller Center, this long-established retail behemoth is known for its generous selection of high-end bottles from regions across the globe. For serious collector, this place is church!
FOR THE CASUAL DRINKER
Wine Bar: Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels has long been a go-to favorite for industry folk and consumers alike. Modeled after its existing locations in London and Paris, this French-inspired bar-à-vin boasts an epically long wine list, with many by-the-glass options available at all times. Expect well-curated small plates to be served up in a sultry, dimly lit ambiance by a team of young, highly educated sommeliers. It’s no surprise this wine bar ends up on “best of” lists year in and year out.
Restaurant: Crown Shy
Although relatively new to the scene, Crown Shy has already made a huge mark on New York’s wine drinking scene. Founded in 2019 by chef James Kent (ex-NoMad) and Jeff Katz (Del Posto), this ground floor level establishment has made a name for itself in terms of food, wine, and service. Expect New American cuisine with a seasonal focus, as well as a good selection of cocktails and by-the-glass pours.
Wine Shop: Astor Wine & Spirits to expand your palate on a budget? Astor Wine & Spirits is the place for you. Home to perhaps the city’s largest selection of bottles, this budget-friendly retail store offers a plethora of grape varieties, regions, and styles within its massive sub-ground space. This is by far the best bang-for-your-buck retail option in the city.
FOR UPSCALE AMBIANCE
Wine Bar: Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
For elegant ambiance and a stellar wine list (and an impressive lineup of sommeliers), look no further than Aldo Sohm Wine Bar. This Midtown staple provides a wine-soaked oasis from the surrounding chaos of Broadway shows, paired with hearty small medium-sized plates. A large by-the-glass list ensures that wine lovers of all palate preferences will find something to satiate their craving – and if you’re lucky, you may even see Aldo himself working the floor, tastevin and all.
Restaurant: Charlie Bird the realm of wine-focused restaurants, there’s no cooler ambiance than the one provided at Charlie Bird. Located in the heart of SoHo, this self-proclaimed “serious restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously” offers an ideal mix between natural wines, the classics, and everything in between. Expect Italian-influenced New American cuisine served up in a bustling bi-level space—likely with a celebrity or two lurking somewhere in the background.
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Through the grapevine
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