If you took a consensus, Austinites' beverage of choice is probably a Belgian-y craft-brewed beer. But sometimes, you just crave some adult grape juice. Here are eight places to get sippin'.
Arguably more a wine retailer than a wine bar proper, Austin Wine Merchant nevertheless makes for a fantastic date night, if you sign up for one of their tastings. Teaming up with local restaurants and caterers, AWM does themed food and wine nights (South American, Tapas & Sherry, etc.) for reasonable prices, usually in the range $40 or $45 per person.
Seven years ago, Cork & Co. brought a much needed service to the hard-working foot soldiers of downtown Austin: A solid wine bar, steps away from their offices. People adore Cork & Co., and not just for their wines. The atmosphere here is truly warm and welcoming, kind of like an extremely classy Cheers.
Why limit wine consumption to 5pm and after? Cru Wine Bar (and here I am referring to the Second Street location) also offers a nice mimosa brunch, perfect for sitting out on the patio and people-watching the stilettoed passers by. I like pairing my mimosa with a salty Brunch Pizza, topped with prosciutto, fontina, and baked farm eggs.
A long, cavernous cellar of a wine bar, Vino Vino is literally wall-to-wall wine selection. But don't let that intimidate you; servers here are more than willing to make some recommendations based on your particular grape fancy. Also, get the olives as an appetizer. I know that doesn't sound exciting, but they're the young, bright green olives, that yield a surprisingly buttery taste -- which comes out especially well with the lemon zest the kitchen grates on top.
With a huge open deck and equally gargantuan food and wine menu, The Grove is the perfect place for West Austinites to let their hair down. Round up a group of girls and start with Flight One, "There's a Sparkle in Your Eye," a sample of three European bubblies.
With live musicians, holiday parties, and themed movie nights, Uncorked is more than a wine bar; it's a wine party house. Located just east of 35 on 7th, Uncorked's huge sign beckons revelers to come in and get a little boozy, one glass at a time.
Max's excels in a high/low mix of wine culture. Upstairs, it's loud and raucous; down below, a sequestered, quiet wine cellar awaits for premium bottle guzzling. The food and wine pairings involved, as many have noted, down-home fare given an upscale twist: Fried chicken and Champagne, or Kobe burgers and Shiraz.
Allandale residents were thrilled when they finally got their very own wine bar a few years ago, and well they should be: Apothecary has a terrific selection of local wines, with laid-back, friendly service to boot.