Manhattan’s wine bars are so numerous that it’s hard to know where to start. Don’t let indecision hold you back! Get out on the street to find the mind-expanding range of wines New York has to offer. The whole purpose of a good wine bar is to permit customers to access a selection of wines that is interesting and novel. And in New York, the opportunity to explore the world’s most intriguing wines is as good as it is ever going to get. Plus it turns out walking is a good way to get to the bars and see some of the sights along the way. We’ve created a walking tour of Midtown Manhattan, from east to west, with enough stops along the way that you won’t quite wear off the alcohol by the time you are done. And along the way you will no doubt find wines from places and grape varieties you’ve never even heard of.
Start off at this a banging, casual and friendly little bar with a great international by-the-glass selection. The light bites are good and after work the place is noisy with talking and slightly alternative, high-energy music driving the party. The name sounds a bit wine-snobby, the vibe is definitely not. More of an avant garde wine party than a chichi sommelier hangout.
929 2nd Ave and E 51st Tel 212 888 7404 www.sommtimewinebar.com
Sofia is just around the corner from Somm Time and is a good opportunity for some old school Italian gastronomic immersion (there is also a good range of international wines). The wines are selected from the best regions all up and down the Italian boot, the salumeria is authentic and the decor is classic New York Italian. The place is often at party pitch with staff who are passionate about Italian eating and drinking.
242 E 50th St Tel 212 888 8660 www.sofiawinebar.com
Make your way to Rockefeller Plaza along 50th street and take a moment to look inside the stunning St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Ave between 50th and 51st. Across 5th Ave from the Cathedral you will find Rockefeller Plaza. Morrell has a great location on the plaza kitty corner to 30 Rock. Sit on the patio to absorb the energy of Rockefeller Plaza or take a place at the bar for a great wine conversation with Will or the other very knowledgable staff. The food is fantastic, the wines are very carefully curated to bring exceptional bottles at decent prices and there is no pretension. A great find!
1 Rockefeller Plaza 49th St Tel 212 262 7700 www.morrellwinebar.com
Leaving Morrell, cross the plaza in front of 30 Rock and turn left on 51st street. Continue past Radio City Music Hall and on the next block you will find Aldo Sohm tucked into a plaza on the right-hand side. This is a modern, well-lit and well-appointed, symmetrical place – comfortable but definitely sleek. The staff are friendly and earnest about their wines. Try the flights to compare a cross section of a wine type.
151 W 51st St Tel 212 554 1143 www.aldosohmwinebar.com
Let’s follow 51st westward into Hell’s Kitchen. A few blocks from Aldo Sohm you’ll cross Broadway and the neon and billboard chaos of Manhattan’s theatre district. After Broadway, just before you reach 8th Ave, you will find Vanguard Bar à Vin on the left. This is one of 4 Vanguard outlets in Manhattan and the decor here is casual French brasserie meets friendly craft beer bar. The by-the-glass menu is a robust mix of US and international and the team puts a tremendous effort into tasting and studying potential wines to select for the menu and to change it up again on a monthly basis.
252 W 51st St Tel 212 399 9463 www.vanguard-nyc.com
Another block down 51st brings us to Aria on the right-hand side of the street. The captivatingly simple trattoria decor is clean, classy and charming. The white shirts and black bow-ties say it all – this is Italian all the way. It’s also loud and fun after work. The food is extraordinarily good and comes in tapas-size sharing dishes. The plates are chipped, the lamb chops are phenomenal and the shaking of cocktails punctuates the noise of conversation. The by-the-glass wine list is relatively compact but gives an excellent cross section of what Italy has to offer. Highly recommended!
369 W 51st St Tel 212 541 9241 www.ariawinebar.com
Casellula Cheese & Wine Café
Wrap up your evening with some amazing cheeses and a final glass of great wine at Casellula Cheese & Wine Café. It’s just a block away from Aria in a zig-zag right and then left. The word cheese is featured in the name for good reason – the folks here are serious about cheese. The ambience is decidedly hipster and casual as they come. The wine menu is eclectic and compelling. And the cheese is, well, awesome. A fitting night-cap after a long evening of wine and walking.
401 W 52nd St Tel 212 247 8137 www.casellula.com