The American wine palate is growing up, and so too are the standards for what constitutes a good wine-drinking experience at a bar. While most watering holes have a few bottles at the ready, to get the good stuff you’re going to brave a wine bar. The genre carries with it plenty of stereotypes—many of them born in the ’90s—about snooty sommeliers, marked-up prices, and dudes with mustaches pronouncing panino with an Italian accent.
Thankfully, the game is changing. Wine bars are shaking their fusty image, crafting quirkier and more individualized lists, and letting their hair down a bit. New York’s Terroir—which calls itself the “elitist wine bar for EVERYONE”—even hosts Heavy Metal Mondays with $2 shots of sherry and wine served out of skull cups.
Yet even as this new age dawns, navigating the unique pitfalls of the wine-bar ecosystem requires a bit of practice. The good news is that getting the most out of your vino experience simply requires having confidence in your own taste preferences, and keeping a few tips and caveats tucked away in your back pocket.
With that, here is your step-by-step guide to drinking at a wine bar, from choosing a seat to settling the tip.
Written by Jonathan Cristaldi (@NobleRotNYC)