When I sit down to talk wine with other enthusiasts, at least half the people at the table will gush about Sonoma and Napa Valley. There’s no denying it. Northern California has some amazing vineyards. For many Americans, it’s a wine mecca.
As the conversation continues, though, I always find myself getting uncomfortable. Don’t become one of those people who thinks that all of the good American wine comes from California! I’ve enjoyed equally delicious wines in and around NYC.
You don’t have to take my word for it. If you visit some of my favorite destinations in and around the city, you will fall in love with New York wine.
Start by Checking Out the Best Wine Bars and Restaurants in New York City
I love wine bars because you get to try a little bit of everything. Instead of committing to a whole bottle, you can sample wines from all over the world.
Ruffian (125 E 7th St.) was my go-to spot for wine when I lived in the East Village. My guess is that the restaurant carries at least 250 bottles from all over the world. You like Spanish wine? They have some. You like Australian wine? They have that, too.
Alexis Percival, the sommelier and co-owner, has an incredibly sophisticated palate. Take her advice and listen to her closely. She can do much more than tell you which wine pairs well with your entree. She’s terrific at teaching customers how to taste wine. Before I went to Ruffian, I liked wine. After learning from Alexis, I love wine. She showed me how to have a deeper experience with each sip.
Some of my other favorite wine bars and restaurants in the city include:
- The Athenian (also in the East Village at 224 E 10th St.), which specializes in Greek wines.
- Botte Bar in Queens (2507 Broadway).
- The Hill in the Bronx (3541 Riverdale Ave.), where you can get a glass for $5 during happy hour.
Take a Bottle Home From One of NYC’s Top Wine Shops
Nothing against your corner bodega, but it probably has less-than-stellar wine sold at above-average prices. Skip it and head to a great wine shop where you can get help choosing the perfect bottle from a knowledgeable connoisseur.
Yeah, I know. New York has about a million wine shops. How can you tell which ones are worth your time and money?
You can start by visiting the stores that I love. After that, see what wine stores New York travel experts recommend. That’s how I got started.
If you’re in Manhattan, I recommend going to Flatiron Wines & Spirits. It’s a pretty central location, and you get to see the Flatiron Building, which I always enjoy. More importantly, you get to try and buy wines from all over the world.
Going through this wine shop’s selection is like taking an advanced class in geography. You’ll find wines from the usual places like Italy, Bordeaux, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. You can also get wine from Israel, South Africa, and Chile. Until I went to Flatiron Wines & Spirits, I didn’t even know those countries grew grapes. I certainly didn’t know that they turned out some delicious wines with unique flavors.
Visit Wineries in and Around New York City
Before I spent a couple of years living in New York, I didn’t know that the city had wineries. I knew that Brooklyn Brewery aged some of their beers in wine barrels. Outside of that, I didn’t have a clue.
Where would someone even find space to grow grapes in New York?
Rooftop Reds had the answer. When you want to make wine from grapes grown in the city, you have to head to the rooftops. Rooftop Reds is even involved with a nonprofit that wants to establish rooftop vineyards throughout NYC’s boroughs.
Unfortunately, you can’t just drop by Rooftop Reds for a glass of wine. You need to make a reservation, but that doesn’t mean you have to plan very far ahead. I’ve made reservations about five minutes before showing up. They’ve never turned me away.
If you feel like getting out of the city for the day, you have a lot of wineries to consider. Personally, I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the regions outside of NYC. I did enjoy Millbrook Vineyards and Winery when I went to visit the estate where Timothy Leary lived during the mid ’60s. After the estate’s caretaker chased us off (we deserved it), we discovered the winery and spent several hours tasting samples in the Vineyard Taproom.
I don’t have much more to offer when it comes to New York State wineries. This list seems to have some pretty good options that I’d like to try when I get the time. If you go to any of the wineries on the list, let me know what you think about them.
And this Where to Try Wine in NYC article has never let me down. I recommend trying the places that it mentions. Whether you’ve been drinking wine for years or you’ve just started to experiment, you’ll find places on this list that interest you.