12 of the World’s Best Wine Bars

You can learn a lot about a place by tasting its wines. Whether it’s a chilled glass of white on a hot afternoon, a rich red to cap off the evening or a glass of bubbly to celebrate, these wine bars are some of the best places to taste the region’s terroir.

Highlights
Via Maddalena, 1 A, 06038 Spello PG, Italy
As if the picturesque Umbrian hill-top town of Spello wasn’t perfect enough, it’s also home to the fantastic Vinosofia wine bar and shop. This beautifully designed space is as warm and welcoming as it’s owner, American expat, Brenda. Vinosofia boasts a wide variety of local wines and, each month, features a different region in Italy. When I visited, I was able to taste some spectacular Sicilian wines, alongside bottles from neighbouring towns like Montefalco. Although wine is the star of the show, it’s not the only player at Vinosofia. Taste delicious local cheeses, salami and olives from the trees you see around every corner. You can also peruse and purchase a collection of cookbooks, in both English and Italian. Vinosofia might just be the perfect wine bar... further tasting, er testing, is required.
R. Bartolomeu de Gusmão 11, 1100-509 Lisboa, Portugal
Nutty bread layered with olive oil, jam, salt and cured pig’s neck were the perfect accompaniment to rich Portuguese wine and 80 year old port. When visiting wine bars let the staff select your wines ask for the stories behind them. You’ll feel more connected to food and the people. (And when offered 80 year old Port always say yes!)
Campo San Giacometto, Ponte di Rialto, 122, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
At the foot of the Rialto Bridge with fantastic views of the Grand Canal, Osteria Bancogiro sits under the archway of the Bancogiro (a bank founded in 1600) from which the tavern gets its name. Here, you’ll find a ground-floor wine bar serving carefully curated varietals by the glass and bottle, as well as stellar crostini cicheti choices like salumi and cheese, warm octopus and eggplant, and shrimp curry risotto. There are also blockbuster canal views from tables on the stone terrace in front. Upstairs, surrounded by brick walls and vaulted ceilings, the stylish dining room offers a full menu of intriguing, modern Venetian dishes, including cocoa fusilli with boar ragù and a flavorful sea bream fillet.

Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Quietly inhabiting the lovely Via dei Banchi Vecchi, Il Goccetto (not to be confused with the Italian pro-marijuana organization by the same name) is a secret hidden in plain sight: a cozy, wood-paneled wine bar with 18th-century ceiling frescoes, more than 300 bottles of Italian and French wine, and a chilled-out atmosphere. Come in the early evening to sit alongside locals reading newspapers or playing checkers, or waltz in late to experience the buzz of young, professional Romans who frequent this local favorite after dinner. No matter when you arrive, order the cheese plate.
44-46 Cranbourn St, London WC2H 7AN, UK
Drinks in London’s West End rarely come cheap. Even less so in the crowded environs of Leicester Square, but if you find yourself in the area, there’s a quiet, reasonably priced refuge known as the Cork and Bottle. It’s a basement level wine bar, and most people walk straight past its frontage (between a ticket agency and a pizza stall) without even noticing it. Down its metal spiral staircase, the cosy bar serves a great list of wines from around $5.50 a glass (as well as by the carafe and the bottle), and alongside an interesting menu it does a fabulous cheese platter (your choice from an extensive selection).
946 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1J7, Canada
Located in Leslieville in the East End, Swirl is in a small, converted apartment above a dog store in Leslieville. I love the decor here, from the tables made from doors or antique sewing machine bases to the artwork by local artists FAME. It’s a tiny place but it packs a punch. There’s no kitchen, so they have these amazing appetizers and desserts preserved in small Mason jars. Wine prices are affordable (and they have about three beers available now). On top of all of that, they host theme nights. For instance, you can watch Mad Men whilst sampling accurate cocktails from the era; board game nights; bubbly nights; and cinema Sundays. Suffice it to say, it’s one of my favorites. Warning: it’s tiny in here. Not meant for a big group, but perfect for a date.
Sincheon-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bodega is a Spanish wine & tapas bar in a funky neighborhood in Seoul. Nothing strange about that. In fact, there’s nothing strange about the food or the wine at all—the sparkling brut is cheap as chips, and the albariño blend comes to the table for less than $80. Sweet deal. But the Spanish music and flamenco dancing? This may as well be the closest you’re ever going to get to a western kimchi saloon, so you’d better enjoy it. To top it off, this place is owned by a Korean fishing company that deals directly with a Spanish company, so you can assume the meat and fish they import is top-notch. Of course, it’s always safe to assume... it makes us all feel better. The manager, pictured here in front of a spectacular hall of cured meats and vintage wines, is more than happy to join you at your table for a drink. What more could you ask for?
Carrer de Querol, 21, 17520 Puigcerdà, Girona, Spain
Oriol, the chef and owner, will welcome you with a beaming smile. Your wallet will thank you because an afternoon of wine and cheese tasting will not break the bank. Close to the border of France, in the small town of Puigcerdà, Tap de Suro is a wine bar that offers more food than is normal. It’s a shop that sells wine by the bottle, by the glass, by perhaps any quantity you need to enjoy the bounty of Spain‘s grapes. But cheeses from all over the country and a variety of marmalades as well as cured meats and pan con tomate can all accompany wine tasting until it becomes hard to choose what is the best part of a visit to this small shop on a small side street. Cork walls and deep wood benches are warm and inviting, the patrons even more so -- don’t plan to be in and out quickly! After all, that would not be the Spanish or French way!
4A Palmotićeva ulica
Wine is an integral part of life on the Dalmatian Coast, a region with many indigenous varietals; a visit to Dubrovnik shouldn’t go by without a glass of local wine. Tucked away on Palmotićeva Street off the main Stradun, D’Vino offers cozy interiors as well as atmospheric seating at tables set on the narrow thoroughfare outside. Try a glass of something new from the impressive selection of local producers—the knowledgeable staff can help guide you in choosing one. D’Vino features several tasting experiences that highlight the region’s star wines: the Konavle Valley’s refreshing Malvazija, potent Plavac Mali reds from the Pelješac Peninsula, and Korčula Island’s fruity Pošip whites. Pair the wines with a platter of prosciutto and Croatian cheeses for a wonderful welcome to Dubrovnik and its wine region.
1600 Barrington St, Halifax, NS B3J 1Z6, Canada
Obladee is the only wine bar in downtown Halifax. The bar has a casual atmosphere with an ever changing wine menu and a few other select drinks like beer and cider if that is what you would prefer. They feature wine “flights” that pair three wines together for a reasonable price, as well as cheese and charcuterie that is locally sourced.
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