Whether it’s a happy hour escape or a gourmet cheese and cracker dinner substitute, wine bars are becoming a popular hangout for the younger professional crowd.
Suitable for novice winos and the adept connoisseur alike, they offer a different vibe than the traditional bar when you’re looking for less party and more Pinot.
Here’s where you and your favorite drinking buddies can check out the scene that the booming outer boroughs have to offer.
1. Black Mountain Wine Bar (415 Union Street - Brooklyn)
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Transporting patrons out of Brooklyn and to a cozy, rustic hideaway in Gowanus, Black Mountain does much more than just offer a glass of wine.
In addition to the intimate atmosphere and innovative lite-bite menu, it boasts quite an extensive wine list, capable of suiting any palette from beginner to expert.
Try and get a seat within view of their working fireplace. The ambiance, along with their Fondue Tuesdays, is a hard thing to beat at this spot, which is great for everything from after-work unwinding to that nerve-wracking first date.
2. Claret Wine Bar (46-02 Skillman Avenue – Queens)
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What this wine bar lacks in speed, it makes up for in taste. With a robust selection of wines and an impressive food menu, Claret is a lip-smackin’ neighborhood spot of Sunnyside.
The food is known to take upwards of 40 minutes to prepare and get to the table, but what comes out is worth the wait, like their popular Prosciutto Pizza. Top this off with their full-bodied Claret House Selection Red or another of their seasonal rotating wines for a spontaneous bella notte.
3. Brooklyn Winery (213 North 8th Street – Brooklyn)
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As the borough’s premiere wine-making establishment, Brooklyn Winery offers an entire experience to complement your glass of vino.
You can take the hour-long tour of the winery and sample some of the Brooklyn-native varietals they offer as well as gain some insider knowledge on doing business in the boroughs.
Their best-selling Rosé is a light selection for sipping and socializing, although they have a wide range of tantalizing choices. Stay for dinner and pair them up with their Ground Turkey and Golden Raisin Meatballs.
4. Keuka Kafe Wine Bar (112-04 Queens Boulevard – Queens)
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Tucked out in Forest Hills is the kind of wine bar you’d expect to find on the shores of New England. Along with a wide repertoire of imported wines, they have a selection of fresh and fun dishes such as a Grilled Watermelon Salad or Crab and Avocado Crostinis, not to mention their acclaimed oysters.
Despite its somewhat small size, it has big flavor from both big plates and big glasses. This is a place to indulge. And if you catch them during lunch hours, there’s a killer $10 mussels and glass of white wine special.
5. We Olive & Wine Bar (116th Smith Street – Brooklyn)
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What at first looks like a tiny Cobble Hill haunt gives way to something much more unique and quite hard not to enjoy. Enter, We Olive & Wine Bar, a fusion of all things olive oil and wine hailing from the West Coast to bring a little small-town fresh to the city.
From olive oil pairings to wine tastings and a selection of artisanal dishes, this eatery is only beaten by its comprehensive store where you can take home oils and sundries for your own experimenting, such as Jalapeño Olive Oil or Honey Truffle Salt. Why should it stop at the wine bar?,
6. Winegasm (3186 37th Street – Queens)
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The sexy rustic charm of Winegasm isn’t just a tease. Their juicy pork belly sliders and decadent Truffle Bacon Mac & Cheese open your mouth up to an attractive and eclectic wine list.
The Astoria hotspot is a good choice for groups up to around 15, who can gently sit themselves down at the long, wooden community table.
Be sure to order pitchers of their sultry red house sangria, which is described only as tasting “like Christmas.” And they’re right. It frickin’ does.
7. MIUSA Wine Bar (98 South 4th Street – Brooklyn)
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Quality ingredients are what MIUSA is based on, and both their wine and food reflect that creed. Another venue great for groups, it sits on a quiet residential corner in the Williamsburg South Side, away from the hustle bustle on Bedford Avenue.
An anagram for “Made In the U.S.A.”, this hospitable wine house has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. Luckily, they keep serving food and libations till around 4am most nights.
8. Pata Paplean (76-21 Woodside Avenue – Queens)
A psychedelic trip to Thailand and back, Pata Paplean offers a different take on the wine bar experience.
Paired with Asian fusion dishes, their list of rice wines, also known as mijiu, add an interesting complement to their already attention-grabbing dishes. Among their creations are classics like sticky rice and edamame along with some designed for adventurous eaters like Pork Blood Soup.
With large mounted TVs scattered around, it’s the perfect place to catch the game and just unwind.
9. Brookvin (381 7th Avenue – Brooklyn)
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The perfect place to grab a seat at the cleverly named Park Slope wine bar is on the picturesque back patio, where the ambiance is calm and the wine is flowing.
Their cured cheese plates perfectly pair with the ’08 Cabernet feature of the week. This wine bar emits all of the class of a chic city wine bar without a drop of the pretension.
Friendly staff helps those who have questions about the wine and it’s a great experience for those less accustomed to the wine scene. Their Mac and Cheese happy hour special is to die for.
10. Bedford Kitchen & Wine Bar (69-44 Main Street – Queens)
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Who knew there could be such a kick in Kew Gardens? This zesty gastrobar knows how to add some spice to life, quite literally.
Quick bites like their pint-sized Gazpacho Soup Shot and Glazed Lamb Bacon zap the taste buds and prepare them for more flavorful options, like the Quail Egg & Sausage Flatbread.
Their hearty wine list complement the food and calm the tongue. Cool off with their non-dairy Coconut Crème Brûlée as your finisher. Wine is no longer the boring, stuck-up habit of our grandparents. This list will have you and your boozy buddies regular winers in no time.[Feature Image Courtesy: Instagram]