There was a moment in time when it seemed wine bars might go the way of piano bars, in a flood of cloying sweet white zinfandels and cookie-cutter chardonnays, all oak and butter, paired with stale crackers and cheap cheddar. But a global boom in winemaking helped bring them back, and now, served up with high-end nibbles, wine bars are thriving — especially here in RVA.
Photo illustration by Steve Hedberg
Barrel Thief Wine Shop & Café
5805 Patterson Ave., 612-9232
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Barrel Thief isn’t just a fabulous wine store. It’s also wine bar, and it’s one with a well-curated list at that. Rarely long, the menu of New and Old World wines always manages to have something for any craving, from an obscure Spanish mencía from Bierzo to a recognizable chardonnay from California’s central coast. Pop in on Friday evenings for $1 tastings and find the perfect wine to stock up for the weekend.
Secco Wine Bar
325 N. Robinson St., 353-0670
Fresh off a move from Carytown to the Fan, Secco upgraded its bar from cork to beautiful copper in the former Buddy’s building. All the extra room made space for more than 25 Old World wines, plus an expanded by-the-bottle list. Sure, some of the wines may be obscure and unfamiliar — Slovenian wine, anyone? — but the well-educated staff will get you into the right glass every time.
The Wine Loft
4035 Whittall Way, 368-1768
In the heart of Short Pump sits the home of high-end wine and deep, comfy couches. Find more than 85 varietals by the glass at The Wine Loft, with a menu comprised of all the big and recognizable names like California’s Cakebread and Virginia’s own Barboursville. It’s a great spot to sample a glass of all those pricey wines you’ve heard about, without buying a bottle and breaking the bank.
C’est Le Vin
15 N. 17th St., 649-9463
With a feel that’s more art gallery than wine bar, C’est Le Vin is the perfect spot to grab a glass and casually mingle. Smack-dab in Shockoe Bottom and with more than 30 global wines by the glass, there’s a good chance you’ll end up rubbing elbows with RVA’s movers and shakers grabbing a drink to close out the day.