Welcome to Eater's column, Decanted, in which wine maven Talia Baiocchi guides us through the treacherous world of New York wine lists.
Since Paul Grieco opened Terroir in the East Village two years ago the wine bar genre—which had spent a few years (at least) dabbling in dorkiness—got a shot to the arm. We’ve seen a wine bar boom before, but this time the movement has managed to tap into the city’s wine zeitgeist like never before, spreading like brushfire from the Upper West Side to Bushwick. Here’s a look at this year’s top wine bar openings and a few that you can look forward to before the year’s end:
Anfora 34 8th Avenue
Opened: May 2010
At Anfora Beverage Director and Partner Joe Campanale steps outside the box and shuns the standard wine list model in favor of highlighting only his favorite Old World winemakers and the myriad of wines they produce (each has his/her own page and bio). Almost all of the featured producers are biodynamic, organic, and/or “natural” and a special section is dedicated to wines aged a la ancient Roman style in clay anfora. The 28 wines by the glass rotate frequently and are priced between $9-25 with the majority falling in the preteen price range.
Crucial intel: Every Tuesday Campanale highlights one of the winemakers on his list and pours all of the wines in house at $10/glass.
Drink: Riesling Spätlese “Zeltlinger Deutschherrenberg,” Berres 1997 $13; Rioja Crianza “Cubillo,” Lopez de Heredia 2004 $15
The Tangled Vine 434 Amsterdam Avenue
Opened: March 2010
The Upper West Side can now claim one of the city’s most progressive wine bars as its very own. Consulting wine director Evan Spingarn (who is also a wine writer and educator) has fashioned a list that that strikes a balance between classic and esoteric, in a refreshingly down-to-earth format. The all Old World collection has a particularly fine collection of Riesling and Burgundy as well as orange wines and sections for red and white “exotica,” a catch-all term for funky wines that, depending on who you are, serves as either an invitation or a warning. The 37 wines by the glass range in price from $9-22 and almost always contains a back vintage wine?or three.
Crucial intel: Daily from 5-7pm and during Sunday brunch from 11:30a.m. – 7pm, 3-4 special wine selections that are not on the menu are featured at $6-$8/glass.
Drink: Anjou Blanc ‘Les Rangs de Long’ 2009, Chateau Soucherie $12; Monastrell ‘Cono 4’ 2008, Primitivo Quiles $10.
Terroir Tribeca 24 Harrison Street
Opened: April 2010
Wine director and co-owner Paul Grieco’s original East Village Terroir outpost inspired a surge in wine bar popularity that refuses to subside. This year, the duo (Grieco and chef Marco Canora) behind the original take their concept even further downtown, unleashing Grieco’s inimitable penchant for the off-the-wall on Tribeca. The space is larger and the menu longer, but the vibe remains the same.
Crucial Intel: With 50 wines-by-the-glass to choose from, it makes sense to go by the 3oz taste.
Drink: Savennieres ‘Roche Aux Moines’ 2001, Domaine Aux Moines $14.75/$7.50; Morgon ‘Javernieres’ 2007, Jean Claude Desvignes $14.00/$7.25.
The Counting Room 44 Berry Street
Opened: April 2010
The bi-level space on Williamsburg’s northside has garnered attention for the downstairs cocktail lounge, but upstairs partner and wine director Doria Paci has fashioned a short, quirky wine list that offers 60 wines by the full and half bottle and 12 by the glass. The mark-ups are quite low and the collection covers both the Old and New World with a focus on small-production, artisan wines.
Drink: Cortese 2009, Cascina Degli Ulivi $21 half btl/$42 full; Anjou ‘Les Copains d’Abord’ 2009, Sablonnettes $19 half btl/$38 full.
Brooklyn Winery 213 N 8th Street
Opened: October 2010
Brooklyn Winery, the city’s latest DIY urban winemaking facility, opened just last month in the former 7500 square foot Supreme Trading space in Williamsburg. If you have $300 - $5700 to spare you can play winemaker, but if you’re stuck with less the $20, the wine bar inside the space sports an affordable collection of 25 worldly wines available by the half pour (3oz.), full pour (6oz.), and by the bottle. The wines range from $7 - $16.50 for the full pour and over the next year the offerings will expand to include Brooklyn Winery’s proprietary labels.
Drink: Monestero Suore Cistercensi, Coenobium, 2008 $7.50/$15.00; R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Cubillo, Crianza 2004 $8.25/$16.50.
Thirstbaràvin 629 Classon Avenue
When: Any day now
The wine bar offshoot of Fort Greene’s beloved retail shop, Thirst Wine Merchants. Expect a well-curated list of “slow wines” (i.e. small production, sustainable wines) from the Old World with a particular focus on the wines from famed importer Kermit Lynch.
Colonie 127 Atlantic Avenue
When: Any day now
A group of alumni from NoLita’s public have raised funds via Kickstarter (see their video plea here) and will open this Brooklyn Heights spot with a list of affordable, “unique” wines and “local, seasonal American cuisine with a definite bias to all things gastronomically Brooklyn.”
Tuffet 286 Graham Avenue
Market Table Alum Alicia Rebensdorf is slated to open her ode to cheese, meat, and wine just a few blocks from Motorino sometime before the end of the year.
Additional 2010 openings:
Custom American Wine Bar 644 Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg
The Bodega Wine Bar 24 Saint Nicholas Avenue, Bushwick (focus on S. America, Spain)
Aria Wine Bar 117 Perry Street, West Village (Organic, Biodynamic, women winemakers)
Pinkerton Wine Bar 263 N 6th Street, Williamsburg
Mauzac 136 DeKalb Avenue, Fort Greene (Focus on France, sparkling, wines from the Mauzac grape)
Vin et Fleurs 69 Thompson Street, SoHo (small-production French wines)
Basil Wine Bar 270 Kingston Avenue, Crown Heights.