Wine. Apart from that vodka with the little bits of gold leaf floating in it, it truly is the classiest of boozes. So with that in mind, we send you out into the 512 to reap the harvest of our hunt for Austin’s 10 best wine bars. Carry the wisdom with you and, whatever you do, don’t chug.
Rosedale Apothecary’s menu comes with helpful descriptors like “creamy mousse” (the Peillot Brut Bugey Champagne) and “amazing w/ cheese” (the Albert Mann auxerrois, or really anything) to help drinkers who know what they’re in the mood for, but can’t quite tell the difference between chardonnay and... stuff that’s not chardonnay. Experienced winos will also feel at home amongst the seasonal offerings and the edgier picks like the “Sex in a Glass” Langhe ‘Finalmente’ nebbiolo.
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Hyde Park It’s easy to get overwhelmed at Vino Vino when faced with its impenetrable wine wall, so let us shoot you straight: forget the hundreds upon hundreds of bottles and just point and pick from its 21-option, by-the-glass menu. It’s hard to go wrong with any one of its carefully curated picks from small vineyards in France, Italy, Spain, and Austin, particularly if you plan on pairing your choice with the mussels and fries.
Barton Springs Road Since good wine is the nectar of the affluent and the cultured, a sweet nip can sometimes reach exorbitant prices. Bring the glorified grape juice back down to Earth at House Wine, where the setting is intimate and the drinks are fancy and attainable, thanks to daily house specials like Monday’s $20 revolving bottle list, Sunday’s half-priced glasses, or its Happy Hour Every Hour $5 glasses.
South Austin Good wine becomes great wine when surrounded by a smattering of platters to gorge on. Winebelly will get you there with its curated international vino list, but then it’s up to you to choose between tapas or small plate offerings, just $5 during happy hour.
Downtown With 100+ options to choose from, you’d have to be particularly picky or especially snobby to not find something to like at Downtown’s Mulberry, wine or otherwise. Happy hour Tuesday through Friday, 5-7pm means 20% off bottles, and $2 off wine glasses, but the real treat is the discounted cheese and meat plates with names so unpronounceable as to ensure their quality. Finocchiona anyone?
South Austin If 360 Uno Trattoria’s wine list was assigned in school, you’d skip it and read the SparkNotes instead -- it’s just that long. Luckily, the restaurant offers affordable flights for the uninitiated, plus drinks by the glass, reds and whites on tap, and retail-priced bottles for those looking to take the tipsy home.
East Austin Red Room Lounge keeps things chill with its relaxed interior and its tufted leather couches, convenient for when you start to lean from sipping all that juice. Do what you will with the $15-$25 wine flights, but don’t forget to toast yourself, with wine glass in hand, for checking out one of Austin’s classiest joints.
South Austin Nestled inside a south Austin home decor store, Aviary Lounge is the perfect place to pop into if you’re just looking for a quick fix of du vin or a small bite to eat. The atmosphere is laid back, the food packs a punch for its price, and the bar is one of the few wine spots in the city to feature live DJ sets all Friday and free wine classes each Thursday.
North Austin Fork & Vine is where you go if you’re hopelessly indecisive, in the mood for something new, and/or desperately ignorant about wine. Seek somm help from certified professional, Chris Howell, and go with what he knows in terms of featured bottles and wine flights. As far as food is concerned, go with your gut, but pay special attention to that chicken liver pâté, because it is straight-up delicious.
South Austin Go for the personalized cheese board, stay because you drank way too much white wine to drive home responsibly. While Henri’s prices can get steep, the entire list is half off on Treat Yourself Tuesdays (cute, right?), plus it’s worth it for its small plate afternoon snacks -- did we mention the cheese board ?
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