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Twin Cities wine bars - the complete list (?)

I'm trying to compile a list of all wine bars in the Twin Cities, as an aid for my wine-tasting group. (It's time for our annual wine-bar visit.)

We like places where there's a strong focus on wine (not just a bar with some wine). Many/most wines should be available by the glass, not just by the bottle. Ideally, flights or small pours are available for those who want to try several wines without drinking too much. And food is a secondary focus - it's not just a restaurant with a wine list. But these criteria are rather strict (Lucia fails the "many/most by the glass" test, for example, and Heartland certainly has a strong food focus), so we're fine with exceptions to our rules.

I need your help - if you know of a wine bar not on my list, please let me know. Or a restaurant with a decent wine list that offers wine flights or small pours. And if you have comments on a particular wine bar, I'd love to hear them!

Here's my list so far:

- Beaujo's Wine Bar & Bistro (Mpls)

- Bev's Wine Bar (Mpls)

- Gusto Cafe & Wine Bar (Hopkins)

- Heartland Wine Bar (St. Paul)

- Lucia's Wine Bar (Mpls)

- Kay’s Wine Bar & Bistro (Maple Grove)
The places link won't work for this one - it uses a non-existent adress in Osseo. Here's the web site: http://www.kayswinebar.com/

- Marceal's / Chateau Lamothe (Burnsville)

- Riverview Wine Bar (Mpls)

- Sage Market and Wine Bar (Mendota Heights)

- Toast (Mpls)

- Ursula's Wine Bar (White Bear Lake)

Other possibilities might be The Sample Room (not a wine bar, but they offer flights), the Black Dog Coffee House (do they have much in the way of wine?), Il Vesco Vino (do they offer glasses or small pours?), and Spill The Wine (but is it true that they have NO wines by the glass?!?).

Thanks in advance for your help!

Anne

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Lucia's Restaurant
1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Heartland
1806 St. Clair Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

Toast Wine Bar & Cafe
415 N 1st St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Beaujo's Wine Bar & Bistro
4950 France Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

Bev's Wine Bar
250 3rd Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Gusto Cafe & Wine Bar
922 Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN 55343

Chateau Lamothe
14351 Nicollet Ct, Burnsville, MN 55306

Riverview Wine Bar
3747 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

Sage Market & Wine Bar
730 Main Street, Mendota Heights, MN 55118

Ursula's Wine Bar & Cafe
2125 4th St, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

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  1. As to my own comments on local wine bars: I've been to Toast and Riverview Wine Bar, and I loved them both.

    Toast is sleek and sophisticated and has a really interesting wine list. The owners were exceptionally helpful for our group's visit a year ago - on their advice, we sampled a sparkling sake (who knew?) that everyone loved. The menu is small but delicious - soups, salads, cracker-crust pizza, and desserts. I hear they've recently added Brasa's pulled pork, too.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/405064

    Riverview Wine Bar is cozy and friendly, with less of a food focus but a very nice wine list. They have a nice selection of rose', as I recall (especially in the summer). I love the names of their flights - such as "Like Buttah" and "Big-Ass Reds". I wish I lived close enough to walk to this place!

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/125116

    Anne

    P.S. Here are my older wine-bar threads, including a review for the now-closed Vino 610:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/125141
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/125221

    2 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      The one time I went to Toast I found the atmosphere really unpleasant. It was a cold, drizzly day and the room felt musty and damp. Perhaps I was just reminded of the florist that used to be in that location before, but it wasn't comfortable and I didn't want to spend time there. I can't speak to the food or wine because we only got a glass and then left.

      On the other hand, I love the Riverview Wine Bar. I've liked all of the flights I've gotten and have had some great food there. The carrot ginger soup in particular was outstanding, as is their pizza with gorgonzola and walnuts.

      We're also big fans of Lucia's wine bar when we want lots of little tastes for dinner. It's such a small space though it would be really hard to seat a group larger than 4. It also feels like they nickel and dime you a bit, charing for things such as bread and olive oil.

      1. re: katebauer

        Yeah, the tiny space at Lucia's would be a problem for our group. The other issue is that they don't have much wine available by the glass - only 3 or 4 each of the whites and reds. (I hate not being able to try more of their wine list.) And no small pours. Dang.

        Anne

    2. You've forgotten my two favorites, both in Stillwater, Cesare's and Marx.
      Both serve great wines, and both have really nice menus, heavy on the pasta's and pizza's and appetizers, but those go so well with a few glasses of wine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: run2eat

        I didn't forget Cesare's and Marx, but they're out of town. Driving all the way back from Stillwater after an evening tasting session isn't something our group likes to do (even though we don't overindulge). But they're great places for people in Stillwater and Bayport, and aren't so much of a trek for those in the very-farthest-east suburbs.
        Anne

      2. I'm not certain whether or not Spill the Wine has wines by the glass or not. We went there with a group for my birthday last fall and I'm pretty sure that there were at least a few wines by the glass. (I know they gave me a sample of an Indian wine that they carry which was great. But I don't know if they normally serve by the glass. I'm pretty sure there were others in my group who had glasses, but don't recall for certain.) I enjoyed our meal at STW, but I think it's gotten mixed reviews from folks here.

        Of your list, I like Bev's and Riverview the best.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bob s

          Thanks for the info! That Indian wine sounds really interesting - I think I'll go just to try that one.

          I found a review of Spill The Wine on mspfoodies that specifically mentions glasses as well as flights (and rates the food as "poor"). I looked at STW's web site again, and *now* I see the wines by the glass - they were hiding before, I swear! No mention of flights, but perhaps ya gotta ask.

          What did you eat at STW? Just so I know what to order when I go...

          Anne

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          Spill the Wine
          1101 Washington Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55415

          1. re: AnneInMpls

            I honestly don't recall, but it would have been seafood or vegetarian. So that probably limits the possible suspects.

            1. re: AnneInMpls

              Hi Anne -
              We used to frequent STW quite a bit for happy hour last summer & ordered from the bar menu. Here's what I remember-

              - $15 bottles @ happy hour - only a few to choose from, not great but passable for the price
              - I personally never ordered one, but I do recall a table next to us that had flights
              - Never ate dinner, but had the calamari (basic, average but ok) & the bruschetta (nice - I've been trying to recreate the balsamic reduction at home since & there's a little deep fried basil treat on top. When I asked about it, the server said it was the chef's homage to MN State Fair, which I thought was kinda cute).
              - Really enjoyed the by-the-glass menu.

              I haven't been in a while, so things may have changed but, that's my 2 cents.
              Salut!

          2. Has anyone been to Taste Wine Bar? It's part of The News Room restaurant in downtown Mpls. Is it still there? Should it be on my list?

            http://thenewsroommpls.com/taste/inde...

            Oddly, The News Room and Taste have very different wine lists. The News Room's wine list is bigger and includes smallish pours (3 oz) and glasses (5 oz). Taste's glasses are available as either 8 oz or 16 oz, both of which are HUGE amounts for a glass of wine.

            http://thenewsroommpls.com/wine.aspx

            Anne

            1. I’ve become very interested in your question and have been doing some research. Sometimes it’s amazing how tough it is to glean what you want on the web. Still, here are a few other places you might consider:

              California Café has a very good wine list with a lot of wines available by taste, glass or bottle. They also have four flights but using the taste pours you could create your own.
              http://www.californiacafe.com/bloomin...

              Cosmos seems to have a great by the glass list. I’m using CityPages for my list so alpha is the order of the day.
              http://www.cosmosrestaurant.com/bever...

              Giorgio's Wine Bar. They do have a good selection but it is tiny so I think that’s out.

              Napa Valley Grille has eight flights including a sparkling wine flight. You could call to ask whether that is the extent of the wine by the glass available. All else seems to be bottles.
              http://www.napavalleygrille.com/bloom...

              Vincent has an impressive by the glass wine menu. I don’t see flights, but you could ask. This would be a wonderful place to gather. http://www.vincentarestaurant.com/men...

              Zeno has a very good by the glass list. .I don’t see flights on the menu but I have a feeling if you were to call ahead they’d accommodate your group and maybe you could come up with your own flights. But, again this place might not be large enough to accommodate your group.
              http://www.zenocafe.com/wine.html

              I bet some places with decent by the glass lists would be willing to create and pour flights for a large group. I think mention of a group of ladies interested in wine would set a mercenary restaurateur heart aflutter and you could set your own flights. At least that’s how things work in my ideal world. Reality could of course be different (and not nearly so much fun).

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              Vincent A Restaurant
              1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

              Zeno Cafe
              2919 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

              Napa Valley Grille
              220 W Market, Minneapolis, MN 55425

              Cosmos Restaurant
              601 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55403

              California Cafe
              368 S Avenue, Bloomington, MN

              8 Replies
              1. re: MplsM ary

                Wow - MplsM ary, you rule! Thanks for all this research! These are indeed great wine-by-the-glass menus. I never would have thought of checking the MOA places, but now I know where I'll go if I'm ever dragged to the Mega Maul. :-)

                You're right that it's worth a call to see if a place will do "custom flights" for a group. That's what Taste did for us last year - we ordered two glasses of each wine, and they distributed that amount between 8 physical glasses, resulting in a one-fourth of a glass for each of us. (Needless to say, we tipped well.)

                By the way, do you know if Giorgio's has a web site? I haven't been there for years (time flies, and there are so many new restaurants to try), but I didn't remember a big wine list in the old days. Or maybe it was just that I was too poor for wine back in the day. It might be too small for my group, but one never knows when one will need an Uptown wine-bar visit...

                Thanks,
                Anne

                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Next to Georgio's is Giorgio's Wine Bar. It is very small, and quaint as is the wine list. Here's a short review(?) from Jeremy Iggers I dug up: http://www.rakemag.com/blogs/breaking...

                  I looked and looked for a Giogio's website when I woke up way too early this morning and found naught. With a new search I found the right combination (like the correct name, "Gieorgio's on Hennepin"), et voilà http://www.giorgiociao.com/Home.html Sadly all it contains is the address, phone and hours.

                  -----
                  Giorgio Restaurant [CLOSED
                  ]2451 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    You are a web-search champion! Thanks!

                    Anne

                    1. re: MplsM ary

                      I'm not trying to hijack this thread, but does Giorgio have any other restaurants besides the one on Hennepin these days? The name "Georgio Restaurants" seems a little weird...

                      1. re: bob s

                        I don't think so. He had two other restaurants (one on Lake, one at 49th & France), but both closed down earlier this decade.

                        1. re: Jordan

                          I didn't know if something else had opened in the recent past. Giorgio on Lake was an amazing restaurant when it opened in the early 90s. The food became less adventurous as time went on, but was still very good. I, by coincidence, happened to eat dinner there on their last night open.

                          1. re: bob s

                            It's now Amore Victoria. By your description of Giorgio's it seems like Amore Victoria is about where Giorgio's left off. The remodel is very nice but the food is nothing memorable.

                            1. re: MplsM ary

                              I live a few blocks from Amore. Even at the end, Giorgio was better than Amore. I personally can't understand why anyone wouldn't cross the street to go to Barbette, but everyone's entitled to their own taste.

                2. Il Vesco Vino does do wine by the glass... sort of. They serve their wines in quartinos (about 1.5-2 glasses) and mezzos (3-3.5 glasses), as well as bottles.

                  I was just there a few weeks ago and enjoyed a quartino of a nero d'avola-syrah blend and shared a tasty antipasti platter (salami, cheese, fried pizza dough, grilled veggies and olives) with a friend.

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                  IL Vesco Vino
                  579 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: trixiemn

                    Fix places link:

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                    IL Vesco Vino
                    579 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102