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~ Recently in San Francisco Wine Bars Category ~



San Francisco Wine Bar: The Bubble Lounge

There's definitely something to be said for finding your niche and sticking with it. For nearly 10 years the Bubble Lounge has been serving Champagne and sparkling wine to San Francisco's jet set and financial district fun seekers. While the dot-com boom days that packed them in are gone, the Bubble Lounge continues to be a popular post-work watering hole, and enough of a weekend seen that it can be a daunting place to drop in on a Friday night with friends without some pre-planning. Perhaps its continued popularity is due to its location at the nexus of Ad Agency... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Terroir Natural Wine Merchant

I derive a particular joy from the fact that the city of San Francisco is finally beginning to live up to its potential as the wine metropolis. In the last 2 years we've gone from a city of perhaps four or five wine bars to a city positively overflowing with them. 'Bout damn time, I say. Bring 'em on. Now that we're getting up in numbers, however, its good to see the market driving some differentiation between them. It simply wouldn't do to merely have a couple of dozen wine bars. Rather we need different wine bars for different occasions,... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Pres a Vi

There have been only two times in my life when I seriously wished that I worked at Industrial Light and Magic. The first was a period of about 10 years between the ages of ten and twenty, when I really thought I wanted to get into special effects as a career. The second was when I saw the wine list at Pres a Vi, and I had an immediate fantasy of being able to wander down after work to share a bottle with friends. Pres a Vi, a sister restaurant to the Va de Vi bistro in Walnut Creek, and... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Parea

One of the enduring mysteries of San Francisco will always be why in the world it took the Mission so long to get its own proper wine bar. Valencia street has been gradually colonized over the years by some of San Francisco's new culinary hotspots, but for the longest time, we had no wine bar. Telly and Nicole Topakas came to the rescue of Mission wine lovers about a year ago when they opened Parea, a comfy, brightly colored space tucked into a storefront on Valencia street. There are only a few wine bars in San Francisco that genuinely have... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Hotel Biron

You would think that findability might be a required virtue of any good wine bar, but for the past few years the strangely named, yet unassuming Hotel Biron has been proving that ever-so-wrong. Tucked into an alley behind Zuni cafe and the more recently arrived CAV wine bar, Hotel Biron has been soldiering on despite practically sharing a common wall with a major competitor and despite being notoriously easy to walk right by without noticing. Those who do spot the glowing orange "B" halfway down the non-descript alley and follow its beckoning lure through the fog and the nearby dumpsters... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: WINE Bar and Shop

You know how they're always fixing up the neighborhood after you leave? This always seems to be happening to me. They remodeled my junior high school the year I became a freshman in high school. They remodeled my high school the year after I graduated. They re-did my college freshman dorm the year after I moved out.... And they put a decent wine bar in the Financial District after I switched jobs and was no longer working there. Sometimes, the world is out to get you. For those of you who don't share my bad luck, the addition of WINE... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Amelie le Bar a Vin

Every neighborhood deserves a wine bar, and more and more these days, it seems like every San Francisco 'hood has one. Wine lovers are taking over the world! (Insert evil laugh here). One of the latest outposts in the previously beer swilling frontier of San Francisco is the swanky Amelie le Bar a Vin, a beautifully designed space in the middle of the Polk street culinary corridor, if I can borrow the more common label for Valencia street. Polk street, formerly one of the infamous proving grounds for San Francisco's ladies of the evening, is increasingly gentrifying along its entire... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: The Hidden Vine

The atmosphere of wine bars can vary as wildly as the flavors and aromas of wine, ranging from pub-like and raucous to modern and reserved. Somewhere in between is a zone that is distinctively cozy, and it is here that the little nook known as The Hidden Vine can be best described. If there weren't a sign outside saying it is a wine bar, patrons walking down the stairs from the entrance off Cosmo Place in Nob Hill might think themselves mistakenly entering the drawing room of a private club. Plush chairs, coffee tables, and ornate paisley carpet are ensconced... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Bacchus

There are no achievement awards for San Francisco wine bars, other than my reviews here on Vinography, but if there were, Bacchus Wine and Sake Bar would certainly get the award for "Smallest Wine Bar." This little postage stamp of a bar in Russian Hill is as close to a secret neighborhood wine bar as you can get. With no publicity, no parking, no signage, and only six seats at the wine bar and a couple more in the window, it only needs to add a bolted door with a secret password to become a modern day speakeasy. Luckily for... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Winestar California Wine Merchant

Even though it has only been open for a couple of years in its current location, the Winestar wine bar has quite a history in San Francisco. This combination wine bar and retail shop was recently reborn from the California Wine Merchant, which, when it closed in 2005, was literally a San Francisco institution. Tucked into a cozy (if a bit dark) little shop half a block off of Chestnut Street in the Marina district, the California Wine Merchant first opened in 1974, and for thirty years it sold wines to local residents. Perhaps the weight of so much... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Incanto Restaurant and Wine Bar

One of the best wine bars in San Francisco is mostly overlooked. That's because most people think of it only as a restaurant. But Incanto Restaurant and Wine Bar is indeed one of the better wine bars in the city, and not just because it offers the opportunity to partake in Chef Chris Cosentino's food while enjoying an excellent glass of Italian wine. Even without the food, I would still be a regular customer, based purely on the merits of the expressive and constantly changing wine list. If you are interested in experiencing Incanto as a wine bar rather than... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Que Syrah

Every neighborhood needs a wine bar. The world would be a be a better place if we all had one. The oft unexplored little neighborhood of West Portal is certainly a better place for the existence of Que Syrah, a cozy postage-stamp-sized space on the main drag. This narrow, bright space offers a couple of small tables, a loveseat and a comfy chair, and a few seats at the bar for wine-loving denizens of the fog. Unfortunately, Que Syrah doesn't have much more going for it than its casual comfort and neighborhood convenience. Let me start with the wine... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Nectar Wine Lounge

I don't spend much time in San Francisco's Marina District. It's quite the hike across the city for me from my sleepy little neighborhood, and I generally don't like the scene, which reminds me of all the parties that I never wanted to go to in college. There are a few venues, however, which ensure that I do keep coming back to the Marina occasionally, and one of them is most certainly Nectar Wine Lounge. A combination wine bar, restaurant, and wine store, Nectar does an excellent job at the first two, and a lousy job at the latter. Were... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: District

I should have known better than to try to go to District on opening night after seeing it featured in the Daily Candy Newsletter. I couldn't get within ten feet of the front door, let alone get inside to check out the newest and largest wine bar in San Francisco. Subsequent visits have allowed me to inspect it as a patron, but the crowds have not dwindled. This is clearly one of SOMA's new hot spots. Occupying a converted brick industrial space just two blocks from the baseball stadium and the massive new residential and commercial buildings springing up in... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Vino Venue

After living in Japan for a couple of years I've remained convinced that a lot more things should be sold through vending machines. Over there you can buy just about everything out of a vending machine, from breakfast to deodorant to batteries to beer. I even saw sake being sold in vending machines. Here in San Francisco we seem to like a more human touch. But if you're interested in mixing your technology with your wine, then there's no better place to go than VinoVenue, the high tech tasting bar that sits on the hip of the Financial District,... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: VinoRosso

In my utopian future, every neighborhood has its own little wine bar where locals can congregate to share a glass of wine with friends and gossip about the goings on within a ten or twelve block radius. Of course if we all lived in small towns in France or Italy, we wouldn't need to fantasize about such institutions, we would have grown up with them. But alas, here we are in San Francisco, and we have to make our own bits of the old world come to life. For a time, I very nearly was about to take matters into... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Rouge et Blanc

Located just outside the Grant street gate to Chinatown and next to the utterly hip Hotel Triton, just a stone's throw from Union Square, Rouge et Blanc is perfectly positioned to capture a thriving tourist trade. Rouge et Blanc is the recent reincarnation of Enoteca Viansa, which managed to keep the lights on until recently despite the somewhat scandalous buyout and shakeup of its parent winery in the fall of 2005. This new incarnation, at the hands of Aqua Development Company who own the restaurant of the same name as well as the recently renovated Cafe De La Presse just... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Yield

San Francisco has seen an explosion in wine bars in the last six to eight months. Thankfully these newcomers have not been concentrated in the downtown area, but instead (good thinking, folks) have been plopped down here and there in neighborhoods that were lacking any sort of refuge for those more inclined towards Chardonnay than Schnapps. One such neighborhood was Dogpatch, the scruffy little brother to Portrero Hill, and its recent wine relief has come in the form of a cute little wine bar called Yield. The first thing that occurs to me in thinking about how to describe Yield... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: CAV

I've long wished for a warm place to sit while I inevitably end up waiting for a table at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe on cold foggy nights. Now I've got one, but the problem is that once I walk in the door at CAV Wine Bar, I rarely ever leave. Whether owners Pamela Busch and Tadd Cortell deliberately plotted this as a strategy for getting customers, I've never had the gumption to ask, but in reality it hardly matters, as any wine lover will tell you after taking a look at the menu. This is the wine lover's wine bar.... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: The London Wine Bar

Every wine bar needs to have something to make it different from all the others. Not all have a claim to fame, but the London Wine Bar certainly does. This brick fronted nook in the heart of San Francisco's financial district is able to assert, with some authority, that it was the first wine bar in America, opening its doors to wine loving patrons in 1974, back when a really good Napa Cabernet would cost you about $20. The London Wine Bar has been slaking the thirst of its financial district patrons for a long time, and you get a... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: EOS

If you live in Cole Valley, or you work at UCSF, there's only one real choice for a glass of wine after dinner. Tucked snugly into the foggy waistband of Cole Valley, EOS Restaurant and Wine Bar (separated by a wall in common) has been setting the standard for wine bars in the city since 1995. EOS, which is actually is the parent restaurant to Bacar, benefits from the same competent wine direction at the hands of Hector Osuna. A more intimate space than the good-sized Bacar, EOS also has a more limited wine tasting menu, with around 20 wines... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant Bar

Regular readers will know what a fan I am of the Ferry Plaza Marketplace, or the "San Francisco Gourmet Trap" as it might be better known, and one of the reasons is the wine bar at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. Situated dangerously near the Recchiuti chocolate store (double trouble) the wine bar offers marketplace shoppers an opportunity to take a load off with a glass of wine, and gives serious wine buyers the opportunity to sample a few things before buying. The bar is set up as a somewhat enclosed area as part of the store, and is strictly... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Ottimista Enoteca and Cafe

I'm really surprised it that it took until 2005 to get a real wine bar opened on Union Street in San Francisco. Half the Cow Hollow and migrating Marina crowd are still stuck in the three or four sports bars that make up the noisiest sections of Union on Friday nights, but the other half has been crying out for a sensible adult drinking spot for years. Now thanks to Ottimista, they've got one. Ottimista is a welcome respite from an increasingly upscale dining and nightlife scene on Union street, at least on most nights. On Friday nights almost every... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Bacar

Occasionally I find myself saying a silent "thank you" to the vagaries of fate that kept Bacar from going the way of so many other Dot.Com boom restaurants that opened and just as quickly shut South of Market. In fact, I think Bacar has only gotten better with time. You can actually get a table within a reasonable amount of time without a reservation, you no longer have to fight through 6 layers of young professionals to get a drink at the bar, and, based on my last visit, the food has improved, too. One thing that hasn't changed at... continue reading

But Wait, There's More!

This page only has the last sixty entries in this category. If you're interested in digging farther into my archives, you'll want to use the complete list of archives to access my articles by month.

Calendar of Postings

April 2016

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Most Recent Entries

San Francisco Wine Bar: The Bubble Lounge San Francisco Wine Bar: Terroir Natural Wine Merchant San Francisco Wine Bar: Pres a Vi San Francisco Wine Bar: Parea San Francisco Wine Bar: Hotel Biron San Francisco Wine Bar: WINE Bar and Shop San Francisco Wine Bar: Amelie le Bar a Vin San Francisco Wine Bar: The Hidden Vine San Francisco Wine Bar: Bacchus San Francisco Wine Bar: Winestar California Wine Merchant

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud