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Are There Any Wine Bars in Boston?

  • WineAG Jan 28, 2009 08:26 AM

This post came out of a discussion on another thread. I made the statement that "Boston was not a wine town" and to reinforce the point mentioned that there's not even one real wine bar... does anyone think there are any?

Came out of the Sensing at the Fairmont thread...

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/587904

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  1. I think of Trouquet as a true wine bar. Staff is very knowledgeable and they offer both 2 and 4 oz pours.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Pegmeister

      As many know, I think Troquet is the best wine restaurant in town... I even list it on my CH favorite restaurant list. There is true wine dedication there... but it's not a wine bar. It's a restaurant with a great wine program.

      Ask the owner, Chris, and I think he'd agree that they think of themselves as more of a restaurant. Great place though and probably the closest thing we have in town.

      1. re: WineAG

        I guess, then I've never had a true wine bar experience. Can you give us more of a description?

        1. re: Pegmeister

          I think I'm sort of on board with Boston not having (m)any "true" wine bars, rather a few restaurants that focus on wine and, sometimes, particularly wines by the glass.

          When I think wine bar: food should be present and should be good but not large, heavy, or the primary focus. Staff should be well-educated and wine-focused. Tria in Philadelphia comes to mind. Wines, beers, cheeses, and delicious small plates, all of which are prepared without a formal kitchen.

          Bin 26 came to mind, but it would be wonderful to have a wine bar version of Drink.

          1. re: Pegmeister

            http://www.usmenuguide.com/winebardef...

            1. re: WineAG

              by all the criteria, looks like bin26 matches the "classic wine bar" setting in this article from my brief visit.

              why are people stuck on comparing boston to new york.? there is no comparison. i'm not saying boston is worse than new york at all. i'm saying we can't compare the two. you may be able to compare 2 or 3 neigborhoods in nyc to boston, that may be fair.

      2. What about Bin 26 on Charles Street?

        1. Bin 26 is the closest thing, but it doesn't begin to compare with the great wine bars in NYC or SF. It is, IMO, one of the biggest holes in the local scene.

          1. what about les zygomates, whose address (not that it proves anything) is www.winebar.com?

            5 Replies
            1. re: smooncakes

              i definitely cant speak of les zygomates as i haven't been but would love to hear others opinions. however i am starting to understand that boston isn't a "wine town"
              i was in a restaurant (not to be mentioned) when i heard a woman next to me asking the bartender "why are there no california chardonnays" on the list when the place had a decidedly non-american wine list. don't people get it?

              1. re: smooncakes

                Les Zygomates is a bistro/nightclub that has a wine focus. Any place that does weddings, will host your corporate event, and seat 150 people is not a wine bar. Haven't been there in years. They may be good at what they do, but its not a wine bar. It has a following and it has introduced people to wine in this town. The fact that this place is what many DO consider a wine bar is another good example of why Boston is not a wine town. Also doesn't help things that they say bistro/wine bar in their logo.

                You're exactly right... they do have a fantastic URL.

                1. re: WineAG

                  ha!! wineag great point. maybe it will come off my short list of places to visit for wine

                  1. re: cockscomb

                    Les Zyg has a great French wine selection and their other place next door Sorriso has a great Italian wine selection. Overall I have found the food and wine to be excellent at both. I wouldn't kill them off your list unless you are looking only for a "true wine bar experience" whatever that may be.

                  2. re: WineAG

                    I actually think the bar area of Les Zygomates has a nice winebar (very uncorporate) feel. They are very knowledgeable and offer over 50 wines by the glass. I would never consider it a "nightclub." I do agree that if you're looking for a small, intimate place, this may not be your best choice. However, I prefer it over Bin 26, which seems more trendy than authentic and recommend people give it a try and decide for themselves.

                2. Isnt there one in Brookline? Dalia's or something? I haven't been, though Ive been meaning to, but they advertise as a wine bar

                  1. I'll echo what the existing posts are already implying: unfortunately, there is nowhere in town I'd tag as a bona fide wine bar.

                    A few ideas that at least come close in certain ways:

                    On the Boston side of the river, I agree that Troquet, Bin 26, and Les Zygomates all have some wine bar elements.

                    In the North End, Prezza has about 40 wines by the glass, mostly from Italy and CA, as well as a really impressive list of bottles. But it's a (delicious) full-service restaurant with a large, usually very busy, bar.

                    I haven't been to Meritage, but as you'd expect from the name, it seems at least to have a number of wine bar attributes: a few dozen wines by the glass, an encyclopedic tome of a by-the-bottle list, and a purported assortment of small plates in addition to the larger ones.

                    In Cambridge, I quite like the wine program at Upstairs on the Square, and their Monday Club Bar is a great place to sample around 15 wines by the glass usually including, oddly enough for Boston, a few credible domestic choices. I also happen to love the chow there, especially the smaller plates and desserts (although NB I have been consistently underwhelmed by the more formal Soiree Room upstairs).

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: finlero

                      Les Zygomates has been running weekly wine tastings lately. I've only been to one of them, but I was VERY impressed, with both the wine and the food, and how much attention and personal service we got. I would go for another one of their wine tastings in a heartbeat.

                      1. re: finlero

                        troquet definitely identifies as a restaurant first. that owner, as well as the owner of prezza, are both passionate in their love of the grape, and it shows in their lists.

                        les zyg lost some of its luster when lorenzo left, but its offerings are solid, i love the front area near the bar and it executes bistro food very well; same for its sister next door.

                        meritage has a very serious program, but is a fine-dining restaurant, lol.

                        although pricey, the lists at mistral and sorrelina are thoughtful and interesting. apps and an off-beat bottle won't break the bank.

                        eastern standard, neptune oyster, estragon, taberna del haro and le voile all have very creative lists too.

                        bin 26 is most definitely a wine bar. "enoteca" is not some made-up word. bina osteria has a very imaginative list, with plenty of selections under $40, as well as reasonably priced small plates.

                        can you swing a dead cat and hit a wine bar at every block ? nope. but the climate here has improved dramatically over even 10 years ago. our diners are more savvy too.

                        i get sick of people complaining and comparing boston to nyc or san francisco. for pete's sake, go live there if you find boston so dismal and provincial.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          htn,
                          The benifits of growing older may be debatable but the one that I've found, personally, most rewarding is giving complements more readily were they are due. I can intimidate, purposely or no, the average beer/ale Hound. but your coverage on this board of all thing oenophile are beyond reproach. I've always eagerly look forward to any of your comments on this subject . Once again you've taken all of the air out of theroom on this post and "swung a dead cat" as well. Perfect!

                          Harp

                      2. Perhaps this should be a new thread, but I'll toss it into the mix here. There are some places besides those mentioned here where I find mentors willing to share with me some of what they have learned about wine. As a student of the grape, I treasure these people and their lists.

                        One example is Rendezvous Central Square. I find myself hunting down the wines I enjoy there to add to my own collection. Nicole is always willing to make suggestions backed with what she knows about the wine and why it might be right for your meal. I leave there knowing a bit more about wine.

                        We were at Neptune Oyster yesterday and find that the staff there really know a lot about wine, and they often introduce us to new grapes, new producers, or unexpected pairings. They also have a reserve wine list-- "The Pearls" that you can ask about.

                        Central Kitchen used to have a reserve list as well. I haven't checked on it lately, but they have had bartenders with good wine knowledge, and we've often walked out of there talking about the wine as much as the food.

                        Troquet has a wonderful selection and maybe we'll have to trying engaging the staff a bit more skillfully because we seem to get more "hard sell" than mentoring when we're there. To me, part of a great wine or cheese program is the willingness to share what you know with those who want to learn.

                        I hope the new restaurant at the Boston Harbor Hotel (if the plans to replace Intrigue are still in place) will take advantage of that incredible wine program. That could be the place for a serious wine bar.

                        Does anyone else remember the little wine bar that was on a second floor at Quincy Market. It came up in an interview I did with Howie Ruben of Bauer Wines last year.

                        And, their was Back Bay Bistro on Boylston at Copley Square. That was one of the first wine bars can remember.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: BostonZest

                          i enjoy all these that you've listed. central kitchen has a very modest mark-up too. i don't venture to cambridge as much as i ought, but blue room has always had a thoughtful list, which is where nicole from rendez-vous first got the vino bug.

                          anybody remember zinc? a wine bar that was ahead of its time. it was on the block where 33 and stix now reside.

                          and tyvm for your kind words, harp00n!