The Top Ten Wine Bars of 2015


Forget fancy dinners. Your opportunity to sample rare wines by the glass from around the world exists in wine bar travel. Let’s take a quick jaunt around the globe and visit some of the most spectacular wine bars in the world. Before we start our journey, a few wine bar tips to remember: In most cases, the cost of a single glass in a wine bar (or restaurant) is equal to the cost that the establishment paid for the bottle. Allow this knowledge to guide your choices. Secondly, always ask for a taste. If you are going to purchase a $30 glass of 1997 Barolo, make sure you like it first. And finally, order something from the food menu. Wine bars tend to specialize in just a few small plates. In most cases, specialization leads to mastery. Thus, forget your fancy dinner with just a single, boring bottle. Order a few different glasses, a few different plates, and prolong the enjoyment of your gustatory experience.
Berlin - Weinbar Rutz
Located on the ground floor of a building which also houses a well-stocked wine shop and a Michelin-starred restaurant, Rutz is a favorite with both local and international clientele. With heavy emphasis on German regional cuisine, brilliantly executed by Chef Marco Müller, it features an eight hundred and fifty bottle wine list. The bar offers the best selection of German Rieslings in the country. Noted for its unparallel wine list, fantastic food, and service to match, this cozy Mitte spot was awarded the prestigious "Wine List of the Year 2014."
Las Vegas - Aureole at Mandalay Bay
How do you talk to an Angel? Simple, just order a bottle of wine. Charlie Palmer, who opened his four story glass and steel “wine tower” in 1999 was one of the first prominent restaurateurs to contribute to the wine bar phenomenon. Boasting over ten thousand bottles, this stunning capsule of wine classics is accessible only to flying professionals, the acrobatic stewards who can fetch anything from a recent Sancerre to an impossibly rare 1945 Mouton. Their electronic wine list is well over three thousand bottle strong; sink into a comfy leather seat and peruse at your leisure.
London - Gordon's Wine Bar
If you think that all wine bars are hipster spots, Gordon's will challenge that notion. This candle-lit, cavernous London establishment is the city’s oldest wine bar. Having opened its doors in 1890, Gordon’s has seen its share of history and famous personalities. Rudyard Kipling lived in the building as a tenant and wrote “The Light That Failed.” Adding to its formidable charms are faded newspaper covered walls, vintage posters, old clocks, and subterranean, candle illuminated chambers. The award-winning wine list has a large selection of well-priced offerings. Fortified wines such as Madeiras, Ports and Sherries are served straight from the barrel.
Los Angeles - Bar Covell 
No wine list? No problem. In fact that's the whole idea. Co-owner Matthew Kaner is behind the bar to make certain your palate is both intrigued and well sated. He may suggest an obscure wine or a widely known offering; depending on what preferences you share with him. This unconventional approach has earned Kaner lots of recognition, including the prestigious Food and Wine Sommelier of the Year award. The lively, yet intimate bar is well stocked with imports, as well as offerings from Matthew's own Central Coast backyard. With one hundred and fifty selections by the glass, you are bound to find something that will stimulate your mind and taste buds. Located in lively Silver Lake, just 5 miles from downtown Los Angeles, it's well worth a visit.
Moscow - The Grand Cru
The world's most expensive city has its share of prestigious wine bars. The Grand Cru chain of wine stores and bars has locations in both Moscow and St Petersburg. It is the brainchild of Maxim Kashirin, who wanted to create a unique, upscale experience for his discerning consumers. The wine bar opened its doors in 2004 to the delight of the cognoscenti. Small and cozy, it wows with the finest wine selection in the city. Chef Adrian Quetglas Spanish influence is seen throughout a short, yet well executed menu.
New York - Morrell Wine Bar
When visiting New York City, make sure to stop by this wine institution. Morrell Wine Bar is the city’s oldest.  Established in 1947, with a tiny wine shop on East 49th it grew to a large retail store and a renown wine bar at One Rockefeller Center. It features hundred and fifty wines by the glass, one of the largest, if not the largest, selections in the city. The company’s formidable collection of "unobtainables," amassed over decades, boasts some of the most difficult to find wine bottles in the world. It’s great place for lunch and people watching while sipping a rare vintage.
Paris - Les 110 de Taillevent
Paris is a city where lifetime memories are made. Make one of those memories a visit to Les 110 de Taillevent wine bar, named as such in honor of hundred and ten wines available by the glass. Have lunch at the brasserie, which offers a unique sommelier-inspired menu in which each dish is associated with potential wine options. A stone's throw from Champs-Elysees, Restaurant Taillevent has wowed its patrons with terrific food and wine offerings since 1946. Based on an engaging concept of pairing your own food and wine, they offer four choices of wine with each course. Patrons can't get enough of the quality, creativity and diverse choices this Parisian gem offers.
Rome - Cul de Sac
Located in the heart of the Eternal City, on a charming square south of bustling Piazza Navona, Cul de Sac opened its doors in 1977. It was Rome's first wine bar. The few modest sidewalk tables are highly sought after and fill up in an instant. It is a long, galley shaped space with shelves of wine bottles lining the walls and a giant counter where you can sample on array of unique cheeses and charcuterie, order a freshly made, delicious salad or sumptuous pasta. Due to its vast selection of Italian wines, it has few rivals in Rome. There are dozens by-the-glass options, great regional fare and friendly waiters.
San Francisco - Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
A must visit for anyone visiting Baghdad by the Bay, is the Ferry Building, a culinary mecca, where the hallways are perennially packed with locals, tourists, and chefs seeking the freshest produce, meats and cheese. While there, don't miss Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant.  They offer three dozen bottles from around the globe by the glass or as a flight, as well as fine cheeses and charcuterie. It overlooks Ferry Building’s mall, which offers great people watching while you snack and sip. If you are in the wine country, there is another, equally impressive location in Napa Valley's Oxbow marketplace.
Tokyo - Ahiru Store
Japanese consumers have become enthusiastic followers of natural wines. Ahiru Store capitalized on that trend with sommelier/owner Teruhiko Saito offering a large selection of natural, organic and/or biodynamic wines by the glass. This tiny, cozy corner bar is Tokyo's best kept secret. Teruhiko manages the wine list, his sister whips up superior bistro fare from her microscopic kitchen. She is especially known for her fantastic breads and house made sausages. The bar's reputation is far larger than its diminutive size; it's challenging to nab one of their sight bar stools yet well worth the effort.

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  • Snooth User: Tukaussey
    461584 40

    Glad to see Aureole listed, an awesome experience with food and service that is out of this world, prepare your wallet ahead of thime though, the wine adds up. Dinner and wine for 8 was well over 5K.

    Dec 04, 2015 at 5:46 PM

  • Snooth User: vjg6014
    1480272 48

    Bottega del Vino in Verona,Italy has my vote...

    Dec 11, 2015 at 7:14 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,989

    Am curious about the sources of info for this list. Did you visit all the bars? If not, how did you gather info about them? Or is this an article sourced from someone else? What are the criteria for determining 'best'? Etc., etc. You'd be a lot more honest if you described the list as 'interesting', rewarding', 'cool' (??) or some such rather than using the superlative for these bars.

    And whoever came up with Ahiru (Duck) for the best winebar in Tokyo was probably a tourist, or worse yet just someone who ripped off the country's English language press (e.g. Japan Times or Tokyo Time Out whose articles are often written by individuals who are fresh off the boat and with limited knowledge, experience and spending power) from a distance...

    Dec 30, 2015 at 2:58 AM

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