While walking around Paris, it is difficult to spend more than a few minutes without seeing a number of bars a wine. But what exactly is a bar a wine?
It is a neighborhood place, appreciated by locals and all visitors who are lucky enough to stumble upon it. This is a place where there may not even be a wine list, but rather a selection of bottles marked with prices lining the walls, plus a selection by the glass recited from memory by the sommelier. It’s a place where you can usually get a little (or a bunch) of cheese and charcuterie, half a dozen Oysters and a selection of small plates (ideally affordable). In a word, it’s a delight.
While they are in all the other corners of Paris 10th and 11th boroughs, Americans haven’t quite caught up yet – partly because our culture (and the cost of rent) doesn’t quite encourage people to linger over a bottle if they aren’t also paying for it. dinner. Yet a growing number of places have done their best to recreate or reimagine the bar a winethis beacon of Paris pleasureacross the United States, with notable concentrations in major cities like New York and San Francisco.
To save you the road trip, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to taste France (by the glass or bottle — why not?) everywhere in the United States, from a newly opened gem in midtown Manhattan to a natural wine mecca in Portland, Maine. Health!
The Dive, New York
Forget your passport – grab your MetroCard and head to The Divea brand new bar-café serving canned fish and joy of living right in the middle of ultra-hip Dimes Square, a subsection of New York’s Lower East Side.
This walk-in only jewel of Golden Age Hospitality and Jon Neidich (of Acme fame) debuted on May 10, with a solid list of natural wines, classic French cocktails and a rotating menu of bistro specialties and small plates, including butter radish, artichokes and others. Antique mirrors and treasures found at the beloved Marché Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen in Paris decorate the cozy space, which aims to channel the aesthetic sensibility of a classic-tobacco-chic bar.a-wine.
“I’ve always been drawn to Parisian tobacco shops,” Neidich said in a press release, adding that beyond their design, he likes how “they function as cornerstones of the neighborhood, where locals of all ages gather to drink and eat throughout the day and night.” He also found himself inspired by the Paris wine bar scene. “With Le Dive, I decided to merge the two – to bring the best of old and new Parisian cafe culture to New York.”
The Vault, Philadelphia
A passionate project founded by women and led by friends Chloe Grigri and Kaitlyn Caruke, The vault is home to an extensive list of natural wines and — my God – French hot dogs to die for (think baguette instead of bun), which alone are worth the trip.
Perched atop the Good King Tavern (opened by Grigri and his father, Bernard, in 2013 as a tribute to his hometown of Aix-en-Provence), the sultry, candlelit space — complete with French disco and exposed brick walls – is as close to Paris as it is to Philadelphia. The bar holds “evening classes” every Tuesday, where they “open up fresh wines and talk about why we love them,” according to their website. Let’s go.
Soif is as much a speakeasy as it is a wine bar. There’s a DJ and there are also elaborate cheese and charcuterie plates, paired with a list of over 50 bottles (ranging from classic French to newer and more natural). Tucked under Testaccio, an Italian restaurant by the restaurateur Aldo Zaninotto in Chicago’s Logan Square, the lounge (which opened last November) channels classic French sensibilities with red vinyl banquettes diverted from La Sardinea beloved French institution run by Zaninotto’s late friend, Chef Jean-Claude Poilevey.
“The word ‘thirst’ has a lot of meanings in French,” Zaninotto said. Eater. “The expression ‘thirst to live’ means ‘thirst to live’. This place is about it, about enjoying life with your friends and having fun. In catering, after COVID, we have to keep moving forward. We had to reset. Now we move on, thirsty for the next adventure.
The Wine Shop, Seattle
Sommelier and owner David Butler’s dream wine bar is a must-visit Seattle destination for oenophiles and Francophiles alike. With mint green walls, wines scribbled on slates, an exclusively French wine list (with a particularly notable Beaujolais selection) and sausage-stacked cheese platters, The Cellar is ideal for a date or a solo sip at the bar.
“The way we do things here is very tentative. You can drop by for a drink, you can stay four hours at a table with your friends, you can do whatever you want. It’s first come, first served,” he said. Wines and Spirits magazine.
Terroir, San Francisco
“Terroir” is a wine term that refers to the specific environmental factors that go into making a wine what it is – soil, climate, altitude, etc. The staff of this beloved San Francisco Natural Wine bar are incredibly well versed in the land from their extensive, carefully curated selection of predominantly French wines. While there are also a handful of New World producers featured here, the focus remains on the Jura, Loire and other French gems, with plenty of room for more funky producers. The wood and loft space itself is a wine lover’s delight, who can gaze at the bookcase-like display of bottles while sampling everything by the glass. The bar is also a retail store, where you can buy a bottle or two to take home or open for a picnic in one of SF’s lovely nearby parks.
Wine Bistro, Charleston
Charleston’s view of the French wine bar offers a wide range of French producers (with a penchant for rosé champagnes) and a colorful cheese board with a rotating selection of cheeses. The bar is done up in a classic, if a little clichéd, style: exposed brickwork and twinkling lights, plus evenings of live music, in a historic building from the 1800s. For the best seat in the house, pull up a stool from bar in front of the open kitchen or head to the large outdoor patio.
Maine et Loire, Portland, Maine
Although not technically a wine bar, Portland’s OG Natural Wine Store deserves a place on this list and in our hearts. Run by Orenda and Peter Hale, former Brooklynites who moved to Portland in 2015, the retail store eventually turned into the award-winning wine bar and restaurant, Drifters Wife, which changed the landscape of the city. Portland’s culinary scene – but was unfortunately one of the first victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.
the wine merchant, Maine & Loire, is still open and pays homage to the French region of Maine-et-Loire, home to the wines of Anjoy and Saumur. “This part of the Loire Valley is home to some of our favorite producers – people who make the kind of wines that first excited us years ago,” the couple wrote on their website. “Maine & Loire is a playful nod to two places that are close to our hearts.
The shop hosts free tastings as well as wine classes, which explore the tasting side as well as the terroir and other factors that go into making wine. They also offer a bimonthly wine club, for local pick up only.
Sophie Dodd is a travel and lifestyle writer who covers hotels, wineand all things France. She writes for Travel + Leisure, people magazine, French and more. Follow her adventures in Brooklyn and beyond on her instagram Account.