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Best wine list in Manhattan?

I'm a San Francisco wine geek swinging through Manhattan in a couple of weeks and looking for a dinner spot with a killer wine list. I'll be dining alone, so an excellent by-the-glass program or an expansive half-bottle selection is a plus.

I seek a list that focuses on international, preferably terroir-driven, restrained wines. A good smattering of reasonably-priced mature vintages would be great.

Ideally within shooting range of SoHo/Greenwich Village, but I don't mind traveling if necessary.

Cru's wine list is amazing, but I'd rather not have to plop down $100+ just for the food (and I doubt I could get any table at this stage, much less a table for one). I'd also consider a wine bar where I could get a light dinner. The main thing is the wine.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I eat at Hearth in the East Village often and one of the reasons I enjoy going is the unique wine list. I may not be the most expansive in the city, but often I am introduced to great wines from odd places. Check the websites of it and that of its sister wine bar Terrior (which is less formal).

    www.restauranthearth.com/
    www.wineisterroir.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: digsnola

      Wow! Any wine director who introduces three or four bottles of CdP with an entire page of text is my kind of guy! I love Hearth's list -- off-beat, value-conscious, and all terroir all the time. Thanks so much for the tip. At the very least, I'm sure I'll find myself at the Terroir wine bar during my stay.

      1. re: Wingdog

        Paul Grieco, the wine director and partner at Hearth and Terroir, is as much a geek as the next wine enthusiast that I've come upon. You'll be in good hands as far as wines (and food) are concerned.

    2. I don't know if I'm well-imbibed enough to know which wine list is the very best in NYC, but I do think that Otto in the W. Village (and all other Mario Batali restaurants for that matter) are excellent for Italian wines. On my last visit, Otto had a good number of 10-15 year old supertuscans on offer. Ouest on the Upper West Side has a strong wine list, as well.

      I suspect that coming from CA, you may not find any winelist to be reasonably priced -- but I don't think the markup at Otto and Ouest is too bad for this town.

      Other restaurants with very good wine lists that are not reasonably priced include Le Bernardin and Daniel. But they have a good selection of much older vintages.

      Veritas has a massive wine list and is good by reputation, but I've only dined there once a long whiles back and don't remember much about the wine.

      9 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        Thanks for these suggestions. Speaking of Batali, Babbo's wine list looks pretty great. I love their philosophy and especially the quartino program. Have you been there?

        1. re: Wingdog

          I have and think the food and wine are both fantastic. I've never directly solicited help from the sommelier, there, though since I've ordered a tasting menu with wine pairing each time. The wines were well matched and their progression well-thought out.

          1. re: cimui

            Casa Mono (another Batali owned - partially owned? - place) also has an excellent Spanish wine list.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Agreed, even the wines by the glass at Casa Mono are out of this world.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I keep forgetting that Casa Mono is a Batali -- but yes, the wines are fantastic.

            2. re: Wingdog

              All of the Batali joints that I've been to, namely Babbo, Casa Mono and Lupa, all thrive on robust wine lists that are themed on the region at which the particular restaurant's cuisine is based on.

              Casa Mono, for example, has a very strong Spanish-based list.

              Babbo's list is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, Italian wine list in the city. It has very robust regional diversity and very terroir-driven. Good sommelier service, too. One who would steer you to your price and description of what you would like, with smart explanation of, say, why the pricing of a particular Barbaresco from Santo Stefano is different from, say, Brico de Neive.

            3. re: cimui

              Veritas does indeed have a huge wine list, but I've heard downhill reports from CHers since chef Scott Bryan left. (If you've read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, he's the one that Bourdain spends a whole chapter talking about how great the guy is...)

              Otto is a good call especially because the bar is large, you can easily get a spot at the bar, and the bartenders really know their stuff and are very cool.

              1. re: kathryn

                the downhill alerts more pertain to food than wine. the wine list is not too different, i hear.

                1. re: kathryn

                  kathryn, I just read a review of Veritas (and the new chef, formerly with Robuchon) somewhere this week. The review was promising. I want to go to Veritas but just for the wine. . . Cru's wine list was amazing. It came in huge books.

              2. Many great suggestions already. I agree with Hearth (Grieco is indeed a wine geek) and Veritas. Otto, for what is essentially a pizza restaurant, does have a fabulous Italian wine list. Peter at Otto is also a winegeek. Along the same lines, 'inoteca on the lower east side also has a terrific Italian wine list. I was there twice in the last few weeks, on one visit polishing off a very tasty 03 Giacomo Conterno Barolo.

                If you're interested in bringing a bottle to a restaurant, check out this resource: http://nycorked.wikispaces.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: Vinous

                  Good call on, and I second, inoteca in the Lower East Side, especially for those who are into good Italian wines. Lot's of gems and nuggets and at terrific prices. Early this year, I chanced upon and had a 1985 Borgogno Barolo which they had at prevailing retail market price. I wasn't planning on spending substantial for wine that night, but it was too good to pass up.

                2. aroma food and wine bar

                  and you get vito (the owner) available to describe every last wine there with a short story. lovely spot and if you're into italian wines, you should really give it a go. i really love their after-work special, 3 flights (change daily) + appetizers for $15.

                  1. Degustation. It is a wine bar with a tasting/tapas style menu. Good wine selection plus you can only dine at the bar with a pretty interesting and tasty but reasonable priced fixed menu. You can sip on your glass of wine while you watch your food get prepared.

                    Maybe quite expensive but try Del Posto. If you can check out their wine cellar downstairs it is HUGE and beautiful.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: banjolinana

                      I paid $25 for some glasses of pretty average wine @ Del Posto. It looks good (the restaurant) and the pasta courses are decent but I would have to have a lot of money to go to that restaurant to check out the wine list.

                      Degustation is OK but I don't really think its that original, and the wine I had there was good but nothing really special.

                    2. The Catch-22 of the deepest, most substantial wine lists in NYC is price. While few would deny that Cru, Daniel, Del Frisco's, etc. have fantastic lists, pricing is geared toward the expense account crowd (upwards of 300% for even expensive retail bottles). Anyone with a corporate amex can drop 2500 for a bottle of screaming eagle to pad the ego. Maybe this is a new thread for a new day, but I tend to stay away from these places when going on a wine journey. I find the most interesting wine programs are focused around medium-priced undiscovered regions. The same way in which a foodie can be more thrilled finding a young chef turning out fantastic food in a soon-to-be-discovered hole-in-the-wall than having expectations met at a popular top restaurant.