What constitutes a wine bar?

By now many of you are aware that part of my Israel Wine project involves wine bars.  As such I went out with some business associates tonight and we both perused several wine bars then ultimately stopped for some drinks and a bite at a new place that calls itself a restaurant & wine bar.

Is a wine bar a place with a large selection of wines?  Is it a place with several offerings by the glass?  Is it a place where snobbery rules?  Does there need to be a sommelier?   How about fancy stemware?  Or even a massive wine display?

wine tower

When discussing what I believe a wine bar truly is I speak of a place where the food compliments the wine – the wine is the focus.  As opposed to a place where the food is the focus and the wine compliments the food.

There are many places in NYC opening up, often in smaller locations, calling themselves wine bars.  But I think that many of these places build elaborate menu’s and are really a first restaurant for a chef (or just a cheaper alternative to a full blown restaurant).  Yes all of these places have at least somewhat extensive wine lists.  Some may employ a sommelier (not a requirement in my opinion).  They may have fancy stemware,  offer lots of selections by the glass, etc.  But if the place is just a small restaurant with a nice wine list then say so.

The truth is that the place we went to tonight was very nice.  The food was good.  The service was nice (although a bit over the top for me).  The wine list although small seemed to cover most of the basics (I had a very nice Albarino & an OK Sangiovese).  BUT….there was NO BAR!  How can you call yourself a wine bar if you don’t even have a bar?!?!?

I’m not saying that there is anything intrinsically wrong with any of this.  Please indulge my little rant.  I guess I just think that places such as the one we went to tonight should have a different name.  If they are opposed to calling themselves restaurants, then how about “Winetaurant”… or “Restaurwine”??

Happy Winetaurant dining and tasting!


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