ARTICLE

The Best Places to Drink French Wine in Manhattan

06.30.2020
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

New York City is home to some of the largest and most comprehensive French wine lists in the country. Whether savoring the classics or diving into the world of natural wine is more your speed, a French-heavy list exists for every type of drinker in the city, fit with an ambiance for every imaginable occasion. From fine dining establishments to luxurious yet laid-back wine bars, dive into the world of French wine at these eight NYC food and beverage institutions.

Nice Matin 

Nice Matin has been an Upper West Side staple for over two decades. Known for its sophisticated interior, extensive outdoor seating, and Provencal inspired menu, this French style brasserie is perfect for foodies, Francophiles, and wine lovers alike. The restaurant’s award-winning wine list offers over 2,500 bottle selections, with considerable sub-$50 options for those on a budget. Start your meal with a traditional pissaladiere, duck liver mousse, or escargot, all served alongside a classic French aperitif -- perhaps a coupe de Champagne, if you’re feeling fancy.   

Over 20 rotating by-the-glass pours are offered regularly, and half bottles, sweet wines, and large-format bottles are also available. French-inspired dinner items including crispy roast chicken, moules frites, and grilled tuna Nicoise are just a few of the restaurant’s staples. Additionally, Nice Matin’s wine club memberships include food and wine focused benefits across a slew of French restaurants citywide, including Café d’Alsace, L’Express, Marseille, and more. Nice Matin hosts ‘Wine Club Wednesdays’ every week, which highlights a meal featuring ‘Provencal wines of all colors from unique appellations’ Wine club members receive a $20 discount ($85 for members / $105 for non-members). For a local escape to the sunny south of France, look no further than this delectable restaurant.  

201 W 79th St, New York, NY 10024 
 

Aldo Sohm Wine Bar 

Located in New York’s bustling Midtown West neighborhood, Aldo Sohm Wine Bar provides the perfect wine-soaked escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC’s noisy streets. Founded by Le Bernardin’s Master Sommelier, this French-focused wine spot boasts a slew of French-inspired small plates and cheese/charcuterie boards, each of which is curated ‘for sharing and pairing.’  Duck foie gras, endive salad, and mini boudin blancs are just a few of the bar’s top pairing picks.  

Over 40 wines are poured by the glass daily, and monthly wine flights are curated by Aldo himself. Some current selections include Chartogne-Taillet’s NV Champagne, Château Clapière’s Côtes de Provence rosé, and the rich and round Meursault ‘Santenots’ from the legendary Marquis d’Angerville. 

For lovers of Bordeaux and White Burgundy, look no further than this elegant yet laid-back wine bar. 

151 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

Credit - Francesco Tonelli - Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
  • Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
    Francesco Tonelli

    Dirty French 

    Tucked inside The Ludlow Hotel, this Lower East Side hotspot is one of the latest projects from Major Food Group (Carbone, Santina, The Grill, The Polynesian, and more). A meal at Dirty French provides the ultimate transport back to your favorite Parisian brasserie, thanks to its French inspired plates, including duck aux mirabelles, chicken and crepes, côte de boeuf, and steak au poivre.  

    Dirty French features an all-French wine list, which is regionally organized and boasts hundreds of references. Expect to find hidden Loire Valley, Corsican, and southern French gems scattered amongst the long Bordeaux and Burgundy sections (including a vertical selection of from Les Perrières from Catherine and Pierre Bréton, a refreshing vintage sparkling from Limoux, and a juicy $52 rosé from Beaujolais) -- and be sure to save enough room for nursing a classic Calvados, Brandy, or Cognac at the end of your meal.  

    180 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002 

     

    Tribeca Grill 

    For French wine served against a classic New York City steakhouse backdrop, head to Tribeca Grill. David Gordon, the restaurant’s esteemed wine director, has been hand-curating Tribeca Grill’s impeccable 74-page wine list for over thirty years, which focuses on top picks from Burgundy and the Rhône Valley (their Châteauneuf-du-Pape selection is one of the largest in the world). Juicy grilled meat and powerhouse Grenache-based blends? Say no more.  

    Pop in for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch to enjoy an array of classic steakhouse selections, including French onion soup, pan roasted salmon, and a variety of top cuts of steak, all served alongside freshly fried-up sides of onions, potatoes, and/or brussel sprouts (these fried selections seriously come alive when savored alongside one of Gordon’s flawlessly curated Champagne picks). An extensive collection of aged Red Burgundy and Bordeaux can also be found, which the restaurant personally recommends considering on special occasions-- though we say what better time than the present? 

    375 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10012 

     

    Racines 

    Lovers of all things organic and biodynamic, look no further than Racines. Tucked away on Chambers Street, this natural wine haven is mecca for those looking to drink environmentally-friendly French wines. The restaurant’s epic 76-page list is curated by Loire Valley native and Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, who recently received the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France title for her relentless work in the wine industry. “I am a born and bred French wine aficionada, even though I fully realized it only when I came to New York,” says Lepeltier. “The distance always helps reveal the gold back home. France is an incredible country for wines, thanks to its fantastic diversity of indigenous grapes (that we need to preserve!), its mind-blowing variety of terroirs, and its history.”  

    Lepeltier notes that although she loves all French wine regions, she is particularly attracted to the wines of the Loire Valley, particularly those made from Chenin Blanc. “ However, what matters the most for me now is to support and work with vignerons dedicated to a real alternative to industrial monoculture farming -- organic, biodynamic, permaculture, agroforestry -- in order to preserve this exceptional French patrimony.” For downtown drinking with a traditional French flare, check out this quintessentially cozy French spot. 

    94 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007 

    Racines-Restaurant-Interior
  • Bar Boulud  

    Conveniently located across the street from Lincoln Center, Bar Boulud provides the perfect elegant yet laid back space for shared plates and French wine before (or after) hitting the Ballet or the Opera. This best-of-both-worlds space features the gastronomical creations of chef Daniel Boulud, served in a significantly less fancy ambiance than his eponymous restaurant. Bar Boulud’s wine program focuses on the ‘great wines of Burgundy and the Rhône Valley,’ as these regions are near and dear to Lyonnais native Boulud’s heart. “I've grown up amidst French wine, from being given a taste of Coche-Dury as a bartender at [Boulud] Sud and told ‘this is perfect Meursault—hazelnuts & rainwater’ to selecting by-the-glass options from coastal French appellations like the Côtes Catalanes,” says Ian Smedley, Chef Sommelier at Bar Boulud.  

     “I’ll always love Burgundy and the Rhône—they have comfort and consistency, like one’s home,” says Smedley. “Chef Daniel is from there, after all. More and more, I’m loving options from Languedoc. There are so many quality wines at impressive value.” Smedley cites the region’s signature Syrah/Grenache blends as some of his favorite finds. “In the best hands, they capture that coastal terroir while remaining approachable and intensely quaffable.” Additionally, Bar Boulud is regarded for their rotating large-format pours served out of 6-liter methuselah bottlings. This spring, expect rotating selections from Chablis, some of France’s top rosés, and more.  

    1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023 

     

    Terroir  

    Founded by Paul Grieco, New York’s quirkiest and most down-to-earth sommelier, Terroir has become a wine-focused destination for oenophiles citywide. This globally curated list places a heavy emphasis on Red Bordeaux and Red Burgundy, though their Champagne selection is absolutely unmissable. “If it weren’t for French wine, there would be no Terroir Wine Bar,” says Grieco. “Simply put, our palates and wine preferences were crafted through many years of imbibing these classics.” Grieco deems French wines as the ‘blueprint’ of what he and his staff ask of the wines that they buy and share with their guests.  

    Grieco elaborates on his love for French wine regions, “The cut of a Loire Valley wine exhilarates us. The exuberance of an Alsatian wine wreaks of yumminess. The minerality of a Champagne makes us ponder life and all its meaning. The majesty of Bordeaux reminds us that wine lives forever. The aromatic dissonance of a Northern Rhône wine leaves us wide-eyed.” he says -- and it doesn’t stop there. “The power of a Languedoc-Roussillon wine leaves us flat-footed. The insanity of a Jura wine causes us to question the existence of a multitude of gods. And, that other place…. umm, I think they call it Bourgogne…well, suffice it to say I am thankful to say I am stoked mom and dad birthed me into this wine world.” 

    The brick-lined bar is dotted with wooden communal tables and high-top tables, which create the perfect ambiance for posting up with friends (and making new ones, too). Terroir’s by-the-glass selection is one of the largest in the city, and if you’re lucky, Grieco himself will be waiting behind the bar, ready to share a glimpse into his extensive mental wealth of wine knowledge. In the words of Grieco, “Drink French. Be fulfilled in every way.”  

    24 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013 

    Terroir-Interior
  • Terroir
    Terroir

    Air's Champagne Parlor  

    Champagne aficionados, you’re in luck. Founded by native New Yorker Ariel Arce, Air’s Champagne Parlor is dedicated to the vast world of sparkling wine, with Champagne at the helm of it all. This intimate lounge, adorned with blue velvet barstools, candles, and a slew of fresh plants, provides the perfect backdrop for date night out, catching up with the girls, or simply sipping solo.  

    Looking to add some extra luxe to your glass? Caviar, cheese boards, and freshly shucked oysters are available daily. For those looking for a more low-key pairing, popcorn, potato chips, and grilled cheese are also available. Best of all, bottles are sold as low as $35 (non-Champagne) sparklers, with selections of true Champagne available at $52 and up. Bubbles and potato chips for one, s’il vous plaît? 

    127 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012 

     

    La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels  

    Since its opening in 2014, La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (or simply La Compagnie) has skyrocketed to New York City wine bar fame. This laid-back watering hole has become a favorite amongst industry folk, neighborhood dwellers, and wine lovers alike. Selections from the bar’s French-heavy wine list pair perfectly with the carefully crafted small plates made by Chef Eric Bolyard. Managing Partner and Wine Director Caleb Ganzer has created a massive yet thoughtfully curated wine list that the New York times cited ‘would make a Michelin-starred restaurant blush.’ 

    Push your way through the thick velvet curtains upon entering and be greeted by one of the bar’s friendly staff members. Happy hour is available Monday-Friday ($5 off all by-the-glass offerings), and those feeling confident in their blind tasting abilities have the chance to guess the ever-rotating ‘Mystery Wine,’ available in both red and white formats. Snack on Compagnie’s signature Cacio e Pepe popcorn, or opt for a heftier app of cast iron sunchokes, burrata, or a gooey croque monsieur. The bar’s rustic brick walls create a sultry yet sophisticated ambiance that leave guests (and their palates) yearning for more. Seriously, expect to get lost in this place for at least a few hours.  

    249 Centre St, New York, NY 10013 

    La-Compagnie-Des-Vins-Surnaturels-Bar-Stools
  • La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
    La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

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