A wine enthusiast recognizes that wine bars are in a league of their own; any bar can serve wine but not every bar is a wine bar. The latter can be defined by their intimate spaces and lengthy lists of highly-curated wines that typically out-perform the food menu by a mile. With that said, the culinary offerings are thoughtfully designed bites that complement the variety of wines on offer.
All these elements apply to Boston’s best wine bars, found from the residential neighborhood of Back Bay to the financial district, ranging from all natural wine lists to the largest Greek selection in the nation. Here’s your oenophilic-focused itinerary for your next trip to Boston.
Krasi Meze & Wine
Tucked off Boston’s famed Newbury Street, this Greek wine bar recently snagged the title of the biggest Greek wine list in the United States, with over 300 bottles from Santorini, Crete, and lesser heard of regions like Mantinia in the Peloponnese and Naoussa in the Cyclades. Don’t fret the intimidating varieties like Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro and Moschofilero, sommelier Evan Turner is an expert in all things Greek wine and couldn’t be more approachable when it comes to helping you find your footing in their world of wine. He even started Symposium Wednesdays where he offers a flight of four wines focusing on a particular theme each week; they’re immersive, informative, and regardless of the topic, always a history lesson — with Turner ensuring that you leave knowing that wine began with the ancient Greeks many years ago.
After successfully opening a specialty wine and sandwiches shop on the corner of South Boston’s East Broadway, American Provisions’ owners expanded with an onsite wine bar, Gray’s Hall. Designed in retro style (think: curved bar, checkered backsplash and burgundy paneled walls), the venue quickly became known for their extensive natural wine offerings, that pair all too well with their rendition of a smash burger (with chili ferment, american cheese and pickles) that’s since gained a cult following. The remaining majority of the menu is ever-rotating, relying on seasonal produce from local purveyors.
Bar à vin 1855
When it comes to the classics, look no further than this cozy, French wine bar nestled above longtime Newbury Street-hotspot, La Voile. With its name as a nod to the year of the first official classification of Bordeaux wines following the World’s Fair in 1855, the traditional wine bar prioritizes definitively French styles, from robust Bordeauxs to silky red Burgundies, crisp Sancerre and aged Calvados. Despite its size, the more than 250-varieties on its wine list could keep you coming back, and entertained for weeks in a row.
Though it’s settled into a downtown side street, hidden in plain sight due to its noisy neighbors of flashy bars and high rise real estate, once you find Haley.Henry, you’ll know you’ve arrived.
Bustling with curious customers dipping their toes into the all natural wine scene, and unpretentious smoldering wooden interiors almost blending into the dimly lit two-story bar, Haley.Henry offers a sanctuary to connoisseurs and beginners, alike. Though they offer an extensive number of wines by the glass, their bottle list is seriously impressive, and the best part is if something on the bottle list catches your eye, they’ll open it for you and start serving it by the bottle that evening so that you’re never missing out (and you basically become a trendsetter among the bar as you open the floodgates for others to experiment). It’s all about tasting, learning and having fun here. Just don’t forget to order some tin fish with your vino selection; the salty, cured seafood on deck is a unique offering in the city.
Bin 26 Enoteca
An international favorite in the heart of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, Bin 26 offers a light and airy atmosphere, with floor to ceiling windows looking out to Charles Street juxtaposed by a brilliantly dark wall of varieties ranging from German Riesling to Italian Fiano di Avellino or settle into a cave-like table to indulge in seasonally-rotating staples all perfectly paired with one of their 100-plus styles of wine.
Bistro Du Midi
This multi-level French restaurant is split into a first-floor bistro that doubles as a premium wine bar and second-floor fine dining. On warm summer days, its accordion windows are drawn open and likens a traditional Parisian cafe where no matter the time of day, its charming patio lures you in for a glass of Provencal rosé before carrying on with your day. When the weather cools, the marble-clad bar is a spot to warm up with their list of bold Bordeaux varieties.
In the midst of Boston’s famed Fenway area (housing the country’s oldest ballpark), nathálie infuses feminine-energy into the neighborhood with its wine menu centered on small production, natural and female produced wines. The golden banquettes usher you into a warm and welcoming oasis where, much like its sister-wine bar, Haley.Henry, exploration is encouraged. Here, you may find your new favorite wine but nathálie says they look at wine like a revolving door; constantly sourcing and welcoming new wines — so enjoy it while it’s on the menu!
As the newcomer to this list, Bar Pallino–in speakeasy style below its coastal Italian, parent restaurant Faccia Brutta–has quickly made a name for itself for its contrasting French vibes that they say is inspired by the new generation of Parisian wine bars. The extensive wine list is predominantly comprised of organic, natural and biodynamic selections with a more esoteric list of varieties on the beverage menu.
Feature image courtesy of Lance Anderson, Unsplash