Best Wine Bars in SF
Pop 5: Best Wine Bars in SF
Living a stone's throw from Napa and Sonoma Valleys, San Franciscans have a serious affinity for all things wine related. If you don't know your Grüner Veltliner from your Sangiovese, or your brut from your semi-sec, reside in the 7x7 for a few months and you'll be rattling off the names of your favorite wineries and varietals in no time. The best place to polish up on your vino vocabulary? A local wine bar. Wine bars in the city range from the quaint and romantic to the trendy and scene-y, serving up local, urban, and old- and new-world wines. Whatever vibe and tastes you're looking for, there's a wine bar for you. Here are our favorites.
- Amelie (1754 Polk St., 415-292-6916) Owned by Frenchman Germain Michel, this modern Nob Hill wine lounge is high on style and French flair with a sleek, lacquered red bar, and sexy, wine-bottle-shaped sconces adorning the walls. Amelie's lively, engaging international staff keep the conversation flowing and are learned in the language of wine. In addition to an extensive wine list, which globe-trots from Napa Valley to Italy to South America, the hip neighborhood spot also boasts a well-curated menu of cheese plates, charcuterie, and shareable assiettes, notably the stuffed ravioli with chanterelles and gruyère and the indulgent grenadine caramelized onion flat breads.
- Barrique (461 Pacific Ave., 415-421-9200) Opened last December, this Jackson Square newcomer serves wines directly from barrels (with taps) behind the bar, recalling the wine country experience of barrel-sampling. Sourcing directly from world-renowned winemakers, Barrique eliminates the middleman and bypasses the bottling and branding process, passing along the savings to its patrons: glasses of Barrique selections range from $8 to $14. Wines, such as the Russian River Valley un-oaked Chardonnay or the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, are named for their region and type, focusing attention on what's in the glass rather than marketing techniques. If you prefer your wine by the bottle, the bar also offers a hand-selected list of 100 domestic and international bottled wines, plus a menu of small plate foods to satiate you.
- Hôtel Biron (45 Rose St., 415-703-0403) This Hayes Valley faux-tel is equal parts wine bar and art gallery, aptly sharing its name with the historic 18th century Parisian building that houses the Musée Auguste Rodin. The pint-sized hideaway bar has a down-to-earth, romantic, Left Bank atmosphere with copper tables, wrought-iron bistro chairs, and zinc-green walls; no wonder it's a favorite of Digg founder and man-about-town Kevin Rose. The wine list favors French and Californian wines, particularly award-winning reds, and a limited complementary menu of cheese, fruits, charcuterie, and olives.
- Press Club (20 Yerba Buena Ln., 415-744-5000) This subterranean SOMA wine bar and lounge offers an entirely Californian wine experience with wines from throughout the Golden State — and now local, hand-crafted brews! — and award-winning architecture that captures the casual, modern aesthetic of neighboring wine country. Each month, Press Club features two new wineries, and meetings with winemakers on Thursday evenings are an extra special treat. In addition, a menu of thoughtfully paired, seasonal small plates are a best bet to tide you over predinner.
- Bin 38 (3232 Scott St., 415-567-3838) This Marina hot spot has it all with sidewalk seating, a heated backyard, a full, American-bistro-style menu of everything from snacks to dinner to dessert, and a mix of interior seating include bar, lounge areas, and dinner tables. The wine list at Bin 38 spans the globe yet focuses on small producers making extraordinary wines, and wines are available by the half-glass, glass, bottle, or in flights; if you want to learn more about under-the-radar wines, bartenders are approachable, engaging, and expertly informed.