The best bar in NYC for American wine? [reader mail]

Hi, soon visiting New York for a wedding, my wife and I intend to do some NY touristing. Drinking good Italian wine I can do in Italy or in my home country (Sweden), but where to find a good selection of reasonably priced US wines in NY? -Johan

Interesting question! I assume Johan would be interested in a bar to drop into before or after his wedding festivities on an evening. New York City wine bars are dominated by lists that focus mostly or entirely on Italian wines; an emphasis on French wines is probably second. But since the demise of Vintage New York, which focused exclusively on wines of New York, nowhere really leaps out to me as having a preponderance of American wines. This may have to do with the fact that it is hard to find tasty American wines that retail for under $12 a bottle, thus putting them at a disadvantage in a restaurant situation with higher markups.

However, it is possible to put together a flight of American wines at a few places. Terroir Tribeca has five American wines available by the glass, with the small sizes all under $8, including a trio of New York State Rieslings. There are certainly better options at some restaurants that aren’t wine bars per se but have some bar areas; Gramercy Tavern is one possibility. But perhaps the best bar-bar for this type of request is Morell, which not only has several wine domestic reds and whites available by the glass, but affords possible celebrity viewing at Rockefeller Plaza.

What’s your theory as to why finding abundant American wines by the glass at NYC wine bars is such a challenge? And what are your suggestions for Johan?

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9 Responses to “The best bar in NYC for American wine? [reader mail]”

  1. Yes, it does seem that the concentration of wine bars in NYC trends Italian then French, with Spain in a recent push to gain ground. While other wine bars seem to be just trying to get their footing and play host to an international flair – catering to the open palate. There are a few niche-focused places popping up, however. In respect to an American focused spot, Custom American Wine Bar in Willamsburg (just a quick L train ride) recently opened, is committed to highlighting selective small American vineyards. And in addition to the previously mentioned places that offer worthy USA options on their wine list, Uva (on the Upper West Side) although Italian driven, boasts a tasteful American selection; and The Local Store (Midtown East – bakery by day, wine bar by night) offers wines from local areas…. Just to name a few.

  2. This is a tough one. I’d add Blue Ribbon Downing St. Bar to the list (great little list of half bottles and solid domestic selection), and if you’re going for full bottles: Craft (there are some finds on that list right now), and Apiary (always plenty of interesting domestics on the list for under $100).

    Blue Ribbon Downing St.



  3. Sweet and Low Down in LES has a great selection of US wines and micros. Owned by the same guy who owns Le Jardin in Kenmare.

  4. I really like Tangled Vine on the Upper West Side. They are one of the few places in NYC that has Orange Wine by the glass. They opened recently, so it’s still pretty quiet there.

  5. As far as a restaurant, the Tasting Room has always had a great selection of American wines.

  6. My suggestion to Johan is to stick to the Italian. “Leave the gun. Take the Cannoli.” There’s a reason these wines dominate the New York wine scene.

  7. I’ve thought about this and I’ve thought about this… I’m astounded that, with all the wonderful places to enjoy a glass of wine in NYC, nobody can come up with a good location that has a US dominated wine list (I looked at the recommended wine lists, all Euro dominated).

    Is this because economies of scale adversly effect good US wines to the point that they cannot compete wine European wines? Hotels across the country have strictly US wine lists of mass produced grocery store quality and I often yearn for a good selection of interesting European wines just to enjoy a decent wine at an affordable price. US wines by the glass (that are not mass produced) often exceed $14 as a starting point.

    So I feel like I’m left with the choice… pay too much if I’m ordering a US wine by the glass, or purchase a European wine (frequently still large production, but displaying some indiction of varietal and place), and walk home with my bank account in tact. I can understand a wine bar owner’s dilema.

  8. Thanks for many good suggestions.
    Names and notes taken!
    I know what I like, but also try to keep an open mind. I try to keep away from becoming ignorant. 😉
    Note: The wine list doesn’t have to be ALL American (US) wines. But while here, I ought to pay honour to my US hosts and taste what USA can offer – and allow the US wines to challenge my Italian preference. Italy, I will visit anyway in a month, and there I do not intend to drink US wines. 😉

  9. Thanks for all kind and good suggestions!
    Spending two nights in NY, filled with long walks and “savouring the city”, we only visited one wine bar: Morrell’s.
    It was however to our utmost satisfaction.
    Very good food! An interesting, though not too long, list of wines. (If I remember correctly about 20 red wines on glass, of which 8 are from the US.)
    Thanks – Johan


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