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Aug 31 2017

Cheers: Where To Drink Wine In Philly

From State Stores To Local Pours

Philadelphia has long enjoyed its reputation as a beer town. Today, however, the ever-adventurous, ever-culinary city also enjoys a serious—yet seriously fun—wine scene. Philly’s vino revolution began with restaurants such as Fork, Tria and Panorama that expanded their wine lists from offering conventional bottles to featuring fascinating new regions and varietals. It continued with the introduction of Philly Wine Week, which will celebrate its fifth year in March 2018 and features dozens of wine-centric tastings and events citywide.

More recently, Pennsylvania, once the nation’s largest alcoholic beverage control (or ABC) state, began to allow the sale of wine and spirits outside of government-run stores. Now, visitors to the region seek out bottle boutiques and source wine to go in new, improved state stores—and then often bring their delicious haul to one of the region’s hundreds of bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurants.

Here are standout spots where wine aficionados, oenophiles and casual tipplers can score great glasses and bottles:

Wine Shops:

  • The Bottle Shop – There’s no need to fret for those who neglect to bring wine to one of East Passyunk Avenue’s fabulous bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurants. Open seven days a week with late hours on the weekends, this small beer shop has a venerable vino lineup for all occasions, from chilled sparklers to large-format bottles. 1616 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 551-5551,
  • Chestnut Street Fine Wine & Good Spirits – This state-run Midtown Village megastore is always well stocked. The helpful, well-versed floor staff is eager to assist with recommendations for nearby BYOBs or bottles to gift to hosts. 1112 Chestnut Street, (215) 560-4381,
  • Local 44 – This craft beer shop in West Philly pays equal attention to its wine selection, focusing on small, quality producers. Those in the market for wine- and beer-friendly snacks will find a fun assortment of bites to eat in or take out. 4333 Spruce Street, (215) 222-2267,
  • Market Street Fine Wine & Good Spirits – A trip to this Center City outpost always turns up unexpected gems rarely seen elsewhere in the region. Whether it’s an extensive selection of rosé in the summer or a hidden-away bottle of bubbly Pét-Nat, there’s always something worth discovering here. 2040 Market Street, (215) 241-1497,
  • Pinot – This petite Old City bottle shop skirts the state store line by selling exclusively Pennsylvania-produced wines. Customers pick up products from nearby vineyards, stop in for guided tastings or classes—or just give a call to have a single bottle or entire case delivered within two hours. 227 Market Street, (215) 627-9463,

Wine Bars:

  • Bar Amis – Chef Marc Vetri’s casual Navy Yard digs are the ideal destination to get casually acquainted with everything from new school California producers to esoteric Italian imports, all available by the glass or bottle. 4503 S. Broad Street, (215) 282-3184,
  • Barcelona – Guests at this handsome new Passyunk Avenue destination start with a glass of bubbly vino espumoso and work their way through the tapas bar’s well-appointed list of Spanish and South American pours. Those in the market for a deep dive into Spanish wine country can go for the Garnachista flight for a side-by-side tasting, best enjoyed along the wide, marble-top bar. 1709 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 515-7900,
  • Fishtown Social – This spare, woman-owned and -operated, grown-ups-only wine cafe pours small-maker pinot noirs, chenin blancs, rosés, sparklings and more, along with international tapas, sandwiches, a rotating selection of meats and cheeses and locally spirited cocktails.1525 Frankford Avenue,
  • Good King Tavern – The French fare at this Bella Vista bistro is complimented by an engaging wine program that encourages exploration. House wines are available by the glass or pichet and rated “good, better or best.” The entire Old World-focused bottle menu goes for half price on Monday evenings. 614 S. 7th Street, (215) 625-3700,
  • ITV – Top Chef alum Nick Elmi’s casual, East Pasyunk wine bar has a Euro-centric list that favors bottles from Austria and Germany with a smattering of venerable picks from other lauded and lesser-known regions. Special occasions here call for caviar service and a bottle of something bubbly. 1615 E. Passyunk Avenue, (267) 858-0669,
  • Osteria – A critically acclaimed Italian culinary destination for more than 10 years, this convivial eatery offers a wide selection of wines hand picked by the restaurant’s team of certified sommeliers. Their award-winning wine list is extensive, focusing on the lauded wine regions of Italy and France. It’s available by the bottle or glass. 640 N. Broad Street, (215) 763-0920,
  • Panorama – Although officially an Italian restaurant, Old City’s Panorama has a Guinness Book of World Records-setting wine tap—or cuvinet—system that is reason enough to sidle up to its cozy wine bar. Sommelier Bill Eccleston assures his sophisticated list is always filled with an international array of bottles, available by the glass or in fun flight form. 14 N. Front Street, (215) 922-7800,
  • Tria – All things fermentable have been the passion of this Philly classic since the first Tria Cafe opened in 2004. The locations’ menus change daily—and are never short on niche varietals served by a staff who is always happy to delve deep into all things oenophilic. A fourth location is in the works on 18th Street—featuring the city’s first wine garden and opening in fall 2017. 1137 Spruce Street, (215) 629-9200; 123 S. 18th Street, (215) 972-8742; 2005 Walnut Street,
  • Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro – This handsome, brick-walled bar feels a bit like an underground Parisian addition to the buzzing 13th Street corridor. Unpretentious Vintage is known for its flights and cheese plates. 129 S. 13th Street, (215) 922-3095,

Restaurants With Strong Wine Programs:

  • Abe Fisher – Small plates inspired by the Jewish-American experience are paired with a well-chosen lineup of reds and whites, beginning at $50 and $60 dollars a bottle, respectively. The restaurant also offers more than 20 different amaros at any given time. On “Somm Sundays,” the staff pours off-menu picks for casual tastings at an affordable price. 1623 Sansom Street, (215) 867-0088,
  • – This elegant Rittenhouse corner establishment was an early adopter of the natural wine movement and has amassed a cellar full of fascinating bottles along the way. On the first Wednesday of every month, they discount their entire bottle list by 50%, making it the perfect time to sample some of the more luxe vintages. They also regularly feature guest winemakers during their #ThuWineCru events on Thursdays. 135 S. 18th Street, (215) 825-7030,
  • Fork – Ambition and elegance are two themes that carry through the dinner menu and wine list at this Old City mainstay. Instead of overwhelming with a phone book-sized list, the selections here are arranged intuitively on a one pager that opens with sparkling and transitions its way from lighter whites to bold reds. 306 Market Street, (215) 625-9425,
  • Friday Saturday Sunday – Drinkers who dig into the list at this revamped Rittenhouse go-to discover all sorts of unexpected finds. Tucked neatly in between bottles of pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc are exotic imports from Anatolia and Palestine. 261 S. 21st Street, (215) 546-4232,
  • Kensington Quarters – The wine menu at this Fishtown favorite focuses on small-scale producers who work organically and biodynamically, making minimally manipulated wines.1310 Frankford Avenue, (267) 314-5086,
  • Root – A Euro-centric wine list evolves with the seasons, showcasing warm weather sippers like cool kerner and gamay in summer and reserving the heavier cabs when the weather turns cool. 1206 Frankford Avenue, (215) 515-3452,
  • Vedge – An esteemed vegan menu throws all traditional wine pairing tenets out the window. Instead of red with meat and white with fish, servers help diners match Riesling with radishes and pole beans with Prosecco. 1221 Locust Street, (215) 320-7500,
  • Walnut Street Cafe – Angling for the title of Philly’s most intriguing wine list, this newcomer on the edge of University City proudly pours a rotating selection of more than 50 wines by the glass, including plenty of natural selections. All of the bottles on the list are also available by the half bottle. 2929 Walnut Street, (215) 867-8067,

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On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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