Learning about wine is a slow uphill process. I've long loved wine, but French and Italian wines boggle my mind. After recently taking my first formal wine class, I'm embarking on my own Pilgrim's Progress of visiting NYC wine bars and restaurants and learning from their sommeliers. Here are a few places I've visited where waiters and sommeliers have been kind, knowledgeable and patient as I ask questions.
All of the Blue Ribbon establishments, including sushi, brasseries and wine bar, have pleased me on all my visits. With friendly waiters who know about food and wine and obviously love it, I enjoy coming to Blue Ribbon for quiet meals alone or late night revelry. The food and wine are always a pleasure, and their effort at hospitality really shows.
Delicious long pours of wines from across the world, creamy black truffled deviled eggs and Wagyu steak await you under the patio umbrellas of Morrell. Long hot summer afternoons while away here with a chilled glass of rose, and winters at the bar reading a paper couldn't be better spent. Buy a bottle or two to go.
Cheese is king at this large, brassy bistro, where it's not too much to have gougeres, a cheese plate AND fondue. A perfect spot for a fun Sunday brunch or loud, lively dinner. The cheese cave is the place to reserve for a special dinner, and don't forget about their ubercheese picnic baskets to go. A retail shop on the side of the restaurant allows you to supplement what's in the picnic baskets or pick out a perfect gift. The servers are professionals, and the sommelier will patiently pick out a bottle or glasses from the excellent wine list with each member of your party.
D.O.C. is serious about showing you a good time for not so much money. With rustic little tables outside on their small patio, serious bartenders who know their wine, and delicious little Italian bites of charcuterie, fresh bread and cheese, this is a win for a Williamsburg date.
Chef Galen Zamarra helms this immaculate West Village jewelbox, where service is perfect and the food follows a cultivated, rustic style. Sourcing from farmers markets and local farms, Mas features black trumpet mushrooms, farm-raised chicken, and Vermont cheeses. The servers are professionally knowledgeable about food and wine to the extreme, with background information about the farms and vinyards items are sourced from. Wines focus heavily on France and biodynamic, organic vinyards.
This is one of my favorite places to eat in the world, as well as being one of my favorite day trip getaways. You go out and see the Berkshire pigs on the farm, and then you have the most heavenly Berkshire pork you've ever had in the restaurant. If you are going to eat meat, this is the kind of place you want to support. The farm-fresh eggs are creatively cooked, and the baby carrots are the most amazing vegetable you've ever had. The sommelier is incredibly knowledgeable in beer and wine pairings. You can take part in festivals, classes and lectures, or survey the lovely gardens and grounds. Stop by the cafe for a quick bite if you're on a road trip. A wonderful place in any season.
I love this warm, friendly, perpetually-crowded after-work/neighborhood spot, where I go to grab delicious wine with friends. Their cheeses span the gamut, from sheep to goat, cheddar to gouda to blue, French to Spanish. A lovely brunch as well on weekends, featuring Turkish, Spanish, Greek, Dutch or even Balkan prix fixes!
Though the Terroir empire has expanded into other neighborhoods, this tiny joint is still my favorite, with a much cozier feeling than its Tribeca cousin. Sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders, who will make helpful suggestions from a crazily colorful and irreverent wine menu often starring dry Rieslings. Happy hour is a good deal, and the food menu complements wine nicely, with the usual charcuterie and cheese, plus more filling bruschetta and panini.
Thoughtful, patient winelovers will assist you in your selection at this wine bar helmed by young, ambitious sommelier Laura Maniec. These guides will make just enough suggestions based on your palate to not overwhelm. With big tables in the back and low lighting, this space is good for large groups and romantic dates alike.
Rent the whole space and hire a pianist to play a birthday shebang for you here. With wine and beer at the bar and panini for your hungry friends, this lovely cafe is even more fun after dark.