Houston's Top 10 Wine Bars

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Troy Fields
You can even get a helluva guanciale cheeseburger at Plonk.
Today's Houston Press Deal of the Day (oh, you don't know what those are? sign up; they're seriously fantastic) is for 50 percent off at Boheme, a little wine bar in Montrose that also serves up cappuccinos and beer in a bar that's part zen garden, part Spanish cafe. When I lived down the street, it was one of my nightly hangouts -- especially because it has comfortable couches and free wi-fi.

But the deal got me thinking about wine bars I'd recommend to people who are truly connoisseurs of wine, not just those who are looking for a good bar to meet up at with friends or grab a beer and some solace.

No longer just a juke-joint city, Houston is home to a wide spread of wine bars to suit nearly every personality -- most of them run by serious aficionados -- and, even better, they're spread throughout the city. No Inner Loop bias here.

10. CHA

We named CHA as Houston's best wine bar last year, in part because it's the only wine bar in town to offer a greater emphasis on champagne and other sparkling wines -- wines that are becoming increasingly popular not just for special occasions, but for everyday drinking. And if bubbly isn't your bag, CHA also offers plenty of other wines and events, such as tonight's Bandol wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Photo by Groovehouse
Absolve played host to our recent Odd Pair event.
9. Block 7 Wine Company

This wine bar has a smart business model, selling its wines at retail "next door" and allowing buyers to drink them on the premises with their meal. The bloom is off the rose a bit now that it's been open for a while and people have discovered how excessively noisy it can be with a full dining room, however. My advice: Enjoy your wine on the small patio outside.

8. Absolve Wine Lounge

What this wine bar lacks in detailed, in-depth wine knowledge, it more than makes up for in ambiance. Drinking here is like being invited into someone's elegantly appointed private library and art collection, something you'd never expect from its simple strip mall exterior.

7. Vine Wine Room

Since 2005, Joe Rippey has transformed a little corner space off Benignus and Memorial into one of the area's most popular hangouts thanks to his vivacious personality and his equally expressive wines. The unique selection is always hand-chosen and fits well within the quirky yet old-world vibe of the small space. Rippey is also a co-owner of neighboring Two Saints, so you can make a damn fine evening out of this little corner of Memorial.

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31 comments
Heather LaSalle
Heather LaSalle

One of my favorite Houston wine bars is Memorial Wine Cellar.  They have a huge selection and the atmosphere is wonderful for meeting up with a group of friends.  Check out their website at http://www.memorialwinecellar.....

Tom
Tom

What about Sonoma Wine Bar?  Featuring over 80 Wines by the Glass and Over 175 hand-selected world-wide wines!  $5 weekly wine tastings, guest winemakers and winery owners wine tastings.  

Peggy
Peggy

I agree with the comments that Rioja has great wine & tapas, however, the missing wine bar may just be Oporto, one I'm surprised didn't make the list.

Patrick825
Patrick825

I love Poscol but I don't think of it as a wine bar. Yes they have a great selection of wines but the by the glass options are kinda limited. You usually end up getting a great bottle and eating a bunch of really good food. I think of it as more of a restaurant with a great Italian wine list, no shame in that.

Monica
Monica

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Vito
Vito

I am so glad you left off one of the best wine bars and tapas places in town. That way it won't get over crowded. It's busy enough already....

Rhondaw
Rhondaw

I'm glad you included Poscol, which is the most unique entry in my opinion. Laid-back, cool, serving great food and wine, most people consider Poscol a restaurant, and don't enjoy it as a quickie for good wine and an inventive snack.

tom
tom

What about Sonoma Wine Bar?! I just happened to be there last night with some friends, they were crazy busy and we had such a memorable time! The service was friendly and attentive!

Me
Me

Not a fan of French Country Wines. Between the snooty "don't invite people to our free tastings because too many unwashed peons have been showing up" complaints from them in their email newsletters and the Mandatory Valet Parking (I parked myself and one of their valets came up and demanded I leave so they could park my car for me), I'm not going back.

Kyle
Kyle

No Boheme! I like the fun backyard, knowledgeable bartenders, awesome wines (there's this one Anglim something...) and that the waitresses wear jeans. Very unpretentious and makes me feel comfortable to come dressed a little more casual.

Lena99balloons
Lena99balloons

By the glass, I think they have about 6 reds in the tap-cooler, and about 6 bottles of white/rose in the ice bucket. I always sit at the bar, so I see them. And honestly 12 wines that rotate in and out, and are interesting is to me a great find.

Flecky1
Flecky1

Me too, I wouldn't want Rioja to be suddenly swarmed!

Clementia
Clementia

Very cool place, like you'd find around Venice. No pretense, just mellow and groovy and great.

Me
Me

The problem w/ Cova is their random "we're closing for a private event" nights. They have a web page. They have an email list. The only notice of a closing you get is a sign taped to the door.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Sonoma would have been at the #10 spot on the list had I decided to leave off FCW. And although it's not technically a wine bar, it's such a fantastic place that I couldn't put together the list without including it.

NKristine
NKristine

Agreed, Sonoma is by far the best wine selection and food. Have you had their pizza? Amazing!

Me
Me

I predict FCW going the way of Christopher's, out in a blaze of "we're too good for this hick town" control freak glory.

Gigi
Gigi

I love French Country Wines! The owners couldn't be nicer! Their prices are great and it's the only place in town that you can find these unique French wines. Their champagne is my favorite of all time!

The valet parking is not mandatory, it is just available for free since there isn't much street parking. I definitely appreciate them offering free tastings before you buy a bottle. French Country Wines is a unique gem in Houston and I recommend it to all my friends.

CMN
CMN

I agree with leaving Boheme off the list. I'm a fan of the ambiance, diverse crowd, and a couple of the bartenders, but the love ends there.

There wine selection and prices fall into the "OK" range and the only food I've tried there, the cheese plate, was abysmal. Two kids of cheese parsed and arranged in 5 or so piles around the plate with some sad grapes and nuts. Were they trying to fool me into thinking they were different cheeses?

Bottomless mimosas are made with such cheap, sweet champagne that I challenge anyone over 19 years old to get through more than 2.

BigK
BigK

Have you been to Boheme recently? Sucks. They redid their backyard and it's soo much more...sterile and blah now. I think they just wanted to add more tables and I don't like it so much. Not saying it's off my list but it definitely is sad when I think about how much I used to love it

Lizet
Lizet

My fav Tapas and Wine Restaurant Bar!! they have the best Spanish food in town, the most delicious wine based desserts and superb wines!! . . . and their music and ambiance are awesome!!

Me
Me

The valet who accosted me in the parking lot said it was mandatory.

Callie
Callie

French Country Wines is not a wine bar in the traditional sense because it's not a wine bar at all. One cannot buy wine by the glass or bottle to consume on the premises. The tastings on Saturdays are to introduce new shipments to their customers. It isn't a place to hang out for hours with friends. There are no tables. There is no meat market. It never should have been included on this list.

Kyle
Kyle

Agreed, food at Boheme sucked when I tried it the other night. They should surely fix that.

Gilligan32
Gilligan32

Baloney. They redid the back yard and garden because they added a nice parking lot in back, from which you can now enter and exit.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Oh, I'm bummed to hear that. I haven't been in a few months. Sad to hear.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Ouch. Meat market? Any bar meant as a "meat market" certainly didn't make this list. Either way, see the note above from Tim Smith clarifying the situation on FCW's entry.

Kyle
Kyle

And I think the back yard looks great.

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