Since the early 1920s, New York has been known as the Big Apple a reference to the top prize earned at the many horseracing tracks in and around the city at that time. The galloping of hooves has since given way to the buzzing of bar-going crowds in the outer boroughs, and money once spent on the races is now used to purchase vintage bottles at wine bars across the city. New Yorkers love of wine has become so pronounced in recent years that it may be time for a new nickname: the Big Grape.
Forest Hills: Reasonably Priced Vintages
Many of us owe our success to our parents, but few quite so literally as chef Danny Brown. While much of his restaurant’s popularity can be attributed to a menu of internationally inspired small plates, don’t overlook Francoise Brown’s contributions as wine director. Her reasonably priced vintages encourage guests to branch out.
West Village: Cupcakes and Cabernets
Sweet Revenge holds a trump card that sets it apart from the rest of New York’s wine bars: it’s also a cupcake shop. Founder Marlo Scott left her corporate job to make this pairing a reality. Speaking of pairings, try Marlo’s signature flavor a peanut-butter cake with a ganache center with a Malbec from Spain.
Carroll Gardens: Rustic Mountain Lodge
A trio of Adirondack chairs sits outside the entrance to Black Mountain Wine House, and one imagines that the bar might feel more at home among the Adirondacks of Northeastern New York than tucked away in brownstone Brooklyn. A fireplace crackles indoors, where roughhewn chairs counterpoise an impeccably refined wine list.
Ditmars-Steinway: Dark and Stylish Lounge
The appropriately named Mosaic Cafe & Lounge assembles three concepts to stand out in Astoria’s bar scene. The first and most obvious of these is a setting inspired by the salons of Belle epoque Paris. The other two are part and parcel: an attentive staff and a menu of fine wines that they have selected themselves.
Midtown East: Italian Small Plates
Candlelight flickers against the exposed-brick walls of Sofia’s back room, where suspender-clad waiters suggest their favorites from a list of more than 80 wines. The bar’s intimate ambiance marks a significant shift in tone for Ristorante DeGrezia founder Tommaso DeGrezia, who has brought son Thomas along for his latest venture.
Greenpoint: Sardinian Wines and Sheep’s Milk Cheeses
With its rustic wooden furnishings, D.O.C. Wine Bar might feel more at home in the countryside than in one of Brooklyn’s hippest districts. The crowds that pack the intimate dining room aren’t complaining, however, especially when they get a peek at the menu’s unusual selection of Sardinian wines and sheep’s milk cheeses.
Clinton: 40+ Artisanal Cheeses
Fromager Dimitri Saad counts himself among the American Cheese Society’s inaugural class of Certified Cheese Professionals, and it’s not hard to see why. To aid those who aren’t as cultured in culture, Saad’s menu of more than 40 cheeses is divided into five sections: fresh, bloomy, washed, pressed/cooked, and blue.
Fort Greene: 200+ Bottled Wines
Tucked away on the garden level of a brownstone in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, Stonehome Wine Bar and Restaurant doesn’t stand out in the obvious ways. This only makes the discovery of chef John Gibson’s contemporary American menu not to mention sommelier Bill Stenehjem’s 200+ bottled wines all the richer.
Astoria: Local and International Wines
Astoria is known for its Greek heritage, and Winegasm subtly evokes this tradition with its exposed-brick walls and Mediterranean woodwork. Its wine list and menu pay less attention to specific regions of the world. The former highlights sustainable vintages, while the latter compiles an international smorgasbord of paninis, tacos, and burgers.
West Village: Narrow Road to Austria
Someone who comes to The Upholstery Store looking to have a couch reupholstered will be in for a shock, but not an unpleasant one. The slender space is not an upholstery store after all, but a showcase for chef Kurt Gutenbrunner’s menu of Austrian wines, cured meats, and artisanal cheeses.