Food & Drink

The Best Wine Bars in Indianapolis

Published On 02/24/2016 Published On 02/24/2016

Whether you’re knocking back bottles of the good stuff or something from the grocery bargain bin, there’s a certain relaxation to drinking wine. And despite our reputation as a chardonnay-two-ice-cubes city, Indianapolis has plenty of terroir on tap. This list is about the wine bars that prove just that, ones tailored to the real grape lovers -- from weekenders to hardcore connoisseurs.

Flickr/Jim Grey

Corner Wine Bar

Broad Ripple

CWB is about as close as you can get to the vibe of a Paris cafe, especially if you stop by in the summer and grab a table outside. It’s one of the few truly wine-centric restaurants in the city, with a formidable lineup of dishes made to be enjoyed with a glass of vino. If you want to save a little cash, ask about the manager’s $20 bin selection or get a flight to visit many vineyards in one night. If you’re lucky, you’ll show up on a night when they’re playing live bluegrass in the basement bar. 

Courtesy of Audra Sternberg Photography

Louie’s Wine Dive

Mass Ave

It might be a franchise, but that just means you’ll get a wide and constantly changing selection of wines by the bottle and glass. Best part: when they're almost out of one variety, the price goes down. With a menu of dressed-down appetizers and sandwiches to go with your grapes, Louie's is a great spot to taste some good wine and grab a snack after work. 

Tinker Street

Herron-Morton

Though it’s technically a restaurant, the wine and small plates selection makes this a good place to hang out when you want the wine bar vibe and a delicious bite. It’s also a good choice if you want to learn a little about your wine or you need some suggestions to go with food, as the staff is well-educated on the list. The restaurant frequently hosts vintner dinners where the chefs create a complimentary menu and a winemaker comes to talk about the wines being served. Keep an eye on their social media feeds to get the latest updates.

Tastings Indianapolis

Tastings

Wholesale District

This wine bar is basically an arcade for adults. You load a card with however much money you want to spend, then you go around and swipe it and sip 2oz pours until the cash runs out. Sundays are great for getting $5 mimosas and bloodies, and they offer reservations for dinners featuring a flight of wines to go with each course. If you get a little out of control, grab yourself a room at the adjacent, and swanky, Conrad Hotel.

Mallow Run Winery

Mallow Run Winery

Bargersville

While Indiana might never be famous for wines, there’s something fun about sitting on the deck at Mallow Run and sipping on a glass of homegrown Traminette -- one of a handful of grapes that grows well in Hoosier soil. The tasting room and surroundings at Mallow are gorgeous and worth the drive when you need a little taste of Napa in Naptown. Be sure to make a plan to go in mid-summer when the garden is in full swing and go for a walk with glass in hand. 

Brugge Brasserie

Broad Ripple

Brugge is famous for its selection of craft brews, but the owners pay similar homage to terroir with their wine selection. Though it’s limited, the wine list goes well with just about anything on the Belgian menu, from steak frites to waterzooi. Summer is the best time to visit; you can settle into an outdoor table for an evening of vino and crepes while watching foolish joggers pass by on the Monon. 

BARcelona Tapas Indy

BARcelona Tapas

Market District

Lots of tapas and all the sangria you can drink makes for a fun time at BARcelona -- sometimes too much fun when it starts coming out in pitchers. Get a few small plates of cheese and olives, and then tuck into the offerings at the bar one glass at a time to keep things from getting too crazy. Sunday brunchers in search of value will also love this place; they offer an all-you-can-eat buffet of Spanish brunch favorites that comes with a glass of sangria to boot. 

Shiraz

Shiraz Wine Cafe

Mass Ave

With a similar dispensing system as Tastings, you can explore the world of wine with the swipe of a card. The spot is tucked into a cute shop on Mass Ave, has a sexy interior, and tons of communal seating if you need a new place to meet up with your after work wine club. They do serve food, but insiders know the real draw: that vino. 

Thirsty Scholar

Thirsty Scholar

Herron-Morton

Indy finally has a cafe that serves the beverage needs of the masses at all hours of the night. The Thirsty Scholar will be happy to serve you a beer, a glass of wine, or a cup of hot espresso. One of the best ways to spend an evening here is to get a solo seat at the bar and sip and snack the night away while you watch the crowd turnover from night to late night.

Mass Ave Wine

Mass Ave

It’s a shop! It’s a cafe! It’s both! There’s probably no better place in town to shop for wine than at MAW. First, you’ll get the benefit of an extremely passionate and knowledgeable staff. Second, you can stick around and have a few glasses after you’ve made your selection. Third, after you’ve had those glasses, you can eat all the cheese you want. Everyone wins. 

Market District

Table by Market District 

Carmel

Going along with the shop-n-drink theme, this brand new restaurant inside the bougiest grocery store in the city is not a bad place to end an otherwise uneventful Tuesday. Sadly, you can’t drink and shop at the same time, but you can uncork the bottle of your choice to enjoy within the legal confines of this restaurant. So go ahead: tell your family you’re going to the grocery store, then have a few glasses with some friends. After all, it's not technically lying. 

The Enoteca at Goose the Market

Herron-Morton

It’s not exactly a secret, but Goose the Market's Enoteca is probably one of the least-known (and best) places to drink wine in the city. Goose is a gourmand’s paradise, so their mini basement cafe featuring small charcuterie plates and a huge selection of wine is, unsurprisingly, delicious beyond comparison. Choose a wine off of the menu or have them open whatever you select from the shelves along the walls, and make sure you get a bite of cheese and meat from Goose’s outstanding selection of artisan foods to go with the wine. It’s completely worth it. 

Vida

Vida

Market District

This isn’t your standard great wine list. Vida is newly opened and has a cellar with some of the rarest labels available in Indianapolis. It’s a carefully curated list put together by certified sommeliers, so it might be a little intimidating to the new drinker. That said, the staff is more than happy to offer user-friendly advice on what pairs best with what, and early reports say the menu is a knockout. 

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Sarah Murrell is the writer for Indy’s food and sex blog, The Sensualist, and she thinks those card-swiping wine dispensers at Shiraz and Tastings are nothing short of magic. Follow her on Twitter.

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1. Corner Wine Bar 6331 Guilford Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220-1709

Want to wow your date? Take them to the Corner Wine Bar, an intimate venue along the river and order them a bottle. Score!

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2. Louie's Wine Dive & Mass Ave Kitchen 345 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (Lockerbie Square)

This Mass Ave wine dive serves up craft bar fare and vino with all the fixings. Stop by for comfort food classics like BLT deviled eggs, poutine, and gnocchi, and top 'em off with a glass of perfectly paired wine or spirits. Louie's $10 and under menu is an affordable choice for foodies looking for a tasty deal on the cheap.

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3. Tinker Street 402 E 16th St, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Tinker Street's a pint sized food 'n drink outpost in Indy's Downtown. The curated menu is divided into three sections: small plates, botanical aka veggie dishes, and land/sea, Tinker's meat and dish pairings. This place is great all year round, but especially during patio season.

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4. Tastings - A Wine Experience 50 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (Lockerbie Square)

Tastings is a classy wine bar and bistro in Indianapolis' Mile Square. Located in the plush Conrad Hotel, Tastings's chic, wood paneled interior is the perfect setting for sipping from their collection of over 100 wines by bottle and sampling their artisanal menu of small plates and charcuterie. Hungry for more? Try a wood-grilled flatbread or chopped salad with your Merlot.

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5. Mallow Run Winery 6964 W Whiteland Rd, Bargersville, IN 46106

Just a short drive outside of Downtown Indy, Mallow Run Winery in Bargersville is a friendly local winery and tasting room perfect for visiting on a day trip. Family owned and operated, Mallow Run makes approachable and delicious wines that you can enjoy in their cozy, wood paneled tasting room. Kick back and relax by the fireplace and take your pick among Pinots, Merlots, and artisanal blends.

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6. Brugge Brasserie 1011A E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220 (Indianapolis)

Brugge Brasserie's a friendly, European style bar and restaurant in Indianapolis's Broad Ripple area. The riverside spot brings in the crowds with their wide variety of ales, lagers, and vino, plus a solid selection of weekday happy hour deals. Order a Tripel with your moule frites and you'll be a happy camper, indeed.

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7. Barcelona 201 N Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (Indianapolis)

This Spanish inspired tapas spot offers an authentic array of Catalan small plates, plus all the vino you need to wash 'em down. Nibble on croquettes and ceviche alongside carafes of Malbec, Merlot and more. The bright, warm interior provides the perfect setting for a relaxed lunch or dinner, and their Sunday sangria brunch is not to be missed.

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8. Shiraz 429 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (Lockerbie Square)

Shiraz is a classy Mass Ave spot specializing in wine (what else?). The chic, all white lounge-like setting provides the perfect backdrop for imbibing in style from an extensive selection of wine by Italian, Spanish and European producers. Be sure to cash in on one of the nightly happy hour deals: you'll get $4 house reds on Wednesdays and half-price apps on Thursdays.

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9. Thirsty Scholar 111 E 16th St, Indianapolis, IN 46202 (The Old Northside)

Indy's Thirsty Scholar is a chill local coffeehouse and bar in the historic Old Northside neighborhood. This charming, vintage-inspired locale offers elevated comfort food classics for lunch and dinner (think bacon burgers with carmelized onions and brie, charcuterie platters, and hummus and guac appetizers), plus a wide selection of domestic and imported drafts. The house wine list is also of note, featuring an affordable selection of American reds and whites.

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10. Mass Ave Wine Shoppe 878 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (Indianapolis)

Mass Ave Wine is a speciality retail wine store and cafe in the St. Joseph Historic Neighborhood. Looking for a good bottle on a budget? Mass Ave's got you covered. The shop specializes in artisanal craft wines retailing for under $15. Dine in at their on-site cafe and sample the goods with wine flights and bistro options like charcuterie, salads, and sandwiches.

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11. Table by Market District 11505 N Illinois St, Carmel, IN 46032 (Carmel)

Indulge in expert culinary cuisine at this gourmet grocery store and restaurant in quaint Carmel, just outside of downtown Indianapolis. This family friendly New American fusion spot specializes in shareable plates, wood-fired flatbreads, and bistro burgers. Dare to pair these dishes from an approachable, extensive selection of red and white wine.

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12. The Enoteca at Goose The Market 2503 N Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46205 (Indianapolis)

Located in the popular Goose the Market butcher shop in Reagan Park, The Enoteca is a casual spot to drink wine and sample seasonal fare. Grab a seat at the communal table in this cellar-like locale and mix with the locals over salami plates, charcuterie boards, cheese and vino. The menu equally features red and white wine, mostly from Spain and Latin America.

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13. Vida 601 E New York St, Indianapolis, IN 46202 (Lockerbie Square)

This warm, casual spot in Lockerbie Square serves an extensive menu of globally inflected fusion food from across the corners of the world. The tuna crudo with tandoori 'nduja is a solid choice to start; follow up with roasted mushroom cacio e pepe or the pepper crusted venison chop.

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