When it comes to exciting wine bars, Brooklyn is on the up. A new wave of wine-obsessed buyers and bar-restaurant owners has forsaken the insipid, the safe, and the homogenous for glasses of singular vino from lesser-known regions and producers.
An added bonus: space is generally larger and rents are cheaper in Brooklyn, translating to lower prices by the glass (and bottle) compared to venues that lie west on the isle of Manhattan. Most of our favorite wine bars in Brooklyn are a bit off the beaten track, and that is part of the charm. Each spot is representative of its neighborhood, and most importantly, offers tasteful fodder for the curious oenophile.
Find out a bit about our top five places to drink wine in Brooklyn below, and find out what to order in the slideshow above.
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Hillside Wine Bar
From the folks that introduced unpretentious farmstead dining to a quiet nook on the outskirts of Dumbo, this equally casual wine bar is an offshoot of Vinegar Hill House restaurant. At Hillside, passing the time with a glass of wine gives the intrepid wine drinker a feeling of being outside of New York City. The atmosphere here resembles a New England seaside shack, albeit a more stylish version, it is fitting then that the menu features East Coast oysters and other sea-faring delights.
70 Hudson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (map);718-522-7957
When the owners of a wine shop (Emilia Valencia and Michael Yarmark are also the proprietors of Thirst Wine Merchants in Fort Greene) decide to open a wine bar and restaurant, the expectations are going to be high. Thirstbaravin delivers.
Since opening in December 2010, the wine list and creative seasonal food has been favorably reviewed by heavyweight publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and New York magazine. The clean, expansive, loft-like space is the perfectly un-intrusive setting to enjoy a glass of wine from a list that focuses on wines with a traditional and natural bent.
Though Red Hook has gentrified somewhat, it has remained a sleepy charmer due to its out of the way location and sizable distance from any subway line. Fort Defiance fits into the neighborhood nicely with its laid-back pub vibe and incredibly exciting wine list. If wine director Dhrubo Mazumdar is the behind the bar, ask him what's new, but just watch out, his passion for good, honestly made vino is infectious.
Hats must be tipped to D.O.C., the all-Italian wine bar situated in the heart of Williamsburg. This spot opened ten years ago, when the neighborhood was just starting to percolate with artists and sub-culture kids. Despite the now fully blown influx of hipster-cool, D.O.C. has remained the same. This could be some low-key trattoria in old-school Brooklyn. Literally housed within a house, the sign-less bar and restaurant offers a fairly extensive menu (try the liver mousse) and a wine list that focuses solely on indigenous Italian grape varieties.
The Farm on Adderley
Located in the leafy Ditmas Park neighborhood, The Farm offers one of the best wine lists in South Brooklyn. There is something here to please everyone, a smattering of old-school wines, a handful of natural and one or two easy crowd-pleasers. Chef and wine buyer Tom Kearney defies wine clichés with choices from the Loire, Jura and the Canary Islands. Ok, we might be pushing it a little when we call this local establishment a wine bar; but what matters is this restaurant's spacious bar up front and their list, which makes wine lovers salivate.
About the Author: Pameladevi Govinda is a New York-based freelance writer whose contributions have appeared in Imbibe, Vibe, Decanter, Daily Candy, Spain Gourmetour and more. She has also worked and written for some of New York's best wines shops including Astor Wines & Spirits and Chambers Street Wines. She currently writes and sells wine for Thirst Wine Merchants in Brooklyn's Fort Greene area.