Wine bars in San Francisco
Housed in a former record store on the ground floor of a 19th-century Victorian, 20 Spot pays homage to its past with vinyl-lined walls and the previous shop’s original neon sign. The international wine list, compiled by owner Bodhi Freedom, runs the gamut from Italian tempranillo and California pinot to French burgundy and German riesling. Glasses can be savored on a leather couch or at the handcrafted eucalyptus wood bar. Tasty snacks like deviled eggs with trout roe are available to nibble on.
This cozy venue (it’s only 475 square feet) pours thoughtful wines and craft beers sourced from across California, including quality bottles from the local female-owned wineries Tessier and Inconnu. Pair your choice with a classic cheese-and-charcuterie plate or seasonal dishes such as the charred peaches with avocado, cucumbers and yogurt.
Sarah Garand and Jaime Hiraishi opened Wine Down in 2016 with a minimalist aesthetic geared toward photo-snapping millennials. Their relationships with small California producers mean the bar often offers special barrels and exclusive pours. Best of all, glasses hover between $8 and $15. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the custom sign in the glittery bathroom. It reads, THIS WINE IS MAKING ME AWESOME.
Veteran sommeliers Michael Ireland (Restaurant at Meadowood, Quince) and John Vuong (Ame, Gary Danko) opened High Treason as a hangout for fellow somms and wine lovers. The well-curated menu will thrill wine geeks, while the friendly staff can help steer newbies. Colorful artwork, a record player, the occasional live DJ and quality bites and conservas (canned seafood from Spain and Portugal) keep the space fun rather than stuffy.
Owned and operated by an all-women team, this small, cozy champagne bar has black-and-white seating and tabletops that read “Hello Beautiful” in gold writing. Head here for bumps of caviar served with champagne shots and free popcorn with seasonings.
Cozy, candlelit and oh so French, Amelie will educate you in the ways of viognier and mourvèdre as it seduces you with tantalizingly titled flights such as Sade “Smooth Operator” and Marilyn Manson “Tainted Love.” Stylish decor (vintage theater seats, wine-bottle light fixtures, red lacquered bar) and well-priced customized flights ($10 for three pours during the 5–7pm happy hour) create a lively scene most nights. On the food side, cheeses, charcuterie and other small bites give way to more substantial offerings such as a steamed mussels, croque monsieur, duck leg confit, and Gratin de Raviole du Royans—a southern French specialty of tiny pasta pockets stuffed with herbs, comtè and cottage cheese.
Hidden is the operative word for this husband-and-wife-owned wine bar that offers over 40 wines by the glass and 120 by the bottle. Once located in the Tenderloin, this cozy bar moved to the Financial District in 2011 and has been a staple for post-work wine therapy ever since. The wine list spans the globe and offers numerous flights, allowing wine lovers to explore various varietals and regions; those looking for a snack will be happy to find cheese, crackers and charcuterie to complement their fruit of the vine. Bonus? There's a bocce court in the alley, where you will undoubtedly be at your very best after a few glasses.
Named after the mansion in Paris that houses the Rodin Museum and located a short walk from the SFJAZZ Center, this dark and intimate wine bar/art gallery is the ideal setting for a sultry rendezvous. The wine list features more than 60 selections, with a focus on California and France. On the zinc-green and brick walls, rotating exhibits by local artists spark conversation, while tables for two and comfy sofas invite couples to cozy up with a glass of something red and a plate of cheese or charcuterie (don’t miss rillettes from local purveyor Fatted Calf).
Located beneath the Four Seasons hotel near Union Square, Press Club is a swanky, sexy affair, with clean lines and a glowing, club-like vibe. But don't worry: there's not a lot of fist-pumping music here, just really great varietals and a friendly, attentive staff. A cavernous wine cellar offers bottles from around the world, with an artisan vinter highlighted each month. There's a small food menu as well: nibbles like olives, salmon tartare, mushroom pizzettas and a sizeable cheese selection are perfect for pairing with your glass (or three). The 9,000 square foot space is also ideal for group events, whether you're hosting a work function or throwing your friend the best party ever.
Whether you pop into Birba (pronounced "beer-bah," in case you were wondering) solo or with a date, you're bound to make new friends quickly. That's because the Hayes Valley wine bar is tiny, with only 16 seats to settle into when imbibing by the glass or bottle. European wines are the specialty here—sherry, vermouth, bubbles, whites and reds are all available, with tasting events popping up each month. Birba offers lunch and dinner in addition to small plates, so you can stop by mid-day for a nice roast pork tenderloin and a glass of Gamay when Tuesdays are just too hard to deal with.