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August 17, 2016

The 7 New Wine Bars in San Francisco to Check Out

The Bay Area and San Francisco in particular has some of the best wine bars in the United States. Nearly every neighborhood has its own and several specialize in wines from specific regions. If you are only visiting for a short while there are only so many you can try so be sure to put these seven on your short list.

20 Spot (3565 20th St.)
Located in the heart of the Mission, 20 Spot is hip but unpretentious. The by-the-glass selection is diverse but not superfluous with wines from Croatia to Napa. With 80 wines including older bottlings and many that are organically made, it might take a while to make a decision, or for those who don’t know wine, be a little overwhelming but the staff knows what they’re doing and is always helpful. Proprietor, Bodhi Freedom, owns another wine bar, Bacchus, in Russian Hill that is smaller and has a much more limited menu but is also worth checking out if you find yourself in that neighborhood.

Birba (458 Grove St.)
Just a few months old, Birba is the latest wine bar to grace Hayes Valley and so far it has been most impressive. The list is filled with off the beaten path and a lot of organic wines from artisan producers throughout the United States and Europe. The vibe is very Hayes Valley, no doubt, with concrete flooring, stark walls and wood furnishings yet it is anything but cold, in part a testament to its owner, Angela Valgiusti, a veteran of the Bay Area wine scene. 

Blanc et Rouge (2 Embarcadero Center)
Blanc et Rouge has a little bit of everything for everyone. If big name California wine is what get’s you going, there are plenty to choose from, yet if you want to check out up and coming, small producers, you’ll find them as well. And, if you prefer to drink wines from outside of the Golden State, it has one of the most internationally diverse selections in San Francisco, with wines from the southern hemisphere as well as the United States and Europe.

Ino Vino (108 B Carl St.)
Ino Vino is a lot like a wine bar you would find in Florence, and that makes sense because owner, Claudio Villani is a Florentine native. Sophisticated but not snobby, a wide array of wines from Piedmont to Sicily is available by the bottle, glass or three-ounce pour. There are also five flights spotlighting regions and terroirs ranging in price from $19 - $22. And, of cours, there is an extensive selection of cheese, charcuterie and pizzettes to soak up all the Italian goodness.  

Nectar Wine Lounge (3330 Steiner St.)
Almost a Marina institution, Nectar Wine Lounge has been a Bay Area wine bar staple for almost a decade and a half. The 400-strong wine list hits nearly every wine region you can think of and there are a lot of wines with some age. Forty wines are served by the glass including four flights of three wines each. 

Terroir (1116 Folsom St.)
Terroir pioneered natural wine bars in San Francisco in 2007 and it has remained a favorite for wine drinkers who are looking for organic, biodynamic and esoteric wines made with minimal manipulation. A turntable and industrial/retro décor promote its hipster vibe but there is nothing gimmicky about this place; it is the real deal and a must for anyone who wants to have a palate expanding experience. 

Tofino (2969 Geary Blvd.)
Since opening in April Tofino has been getting a lot of local buzz. With more than 700 available for off- or on-sale purchase, you’re bound to find a number of wines that you have never tried before and chances are, it’s going to be good. There is a bend towards naturally made wines but not to the complete exclusion of high quality conventional producers. 

Photo by j_arlecchino / CC BY-NC

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