Whether you're looking for a bottle or Old World or New, biodynamic and natural or cheap and under $30, these wine bars in Singapore are making alcoholic grapes great again. Don't expect stuffy and pretentious joints that befuddle you with jargon, these casual bars welcome everyone from the wine novice to the connoisseurs looking for a 1982 Lafite.
Wine bars often have a bad rep of being snobbish and elitist, but that’s definitely not the case at Rookery. Instead of an extensive wine tome that’s hard to navigate, the bar presents a well-curated one-pager that has everything you need for a casual night out. Starting at $9.90 per glass, you’ll find an accessible selection of champagnes, whites, reds, and dessert wines. Don’t expect only big-brand fizz at the sparkling section. There’s Pommery Brut Royal Champagne ($95) for those looking to pop a bottle and celebrate and Ca’vescovo Prosecco DOC from Italy by the glass ($11). The whites and reds range from the typical sauvignon blancs and merlots (from $35 per bottle), to the slightly more unusual Australian Semillons (from $49 a bottle) and Italian Montepulciano (from $12 a glass).
Time Out Singapore in partnership with Rookery
This monochromatic bar is your best bet if you’re looking for a crash course on wine. Praelum stocks about 350 labels in its walk-in cellar that you can order in tasting pours (from $4/25ml) and half-portions (from $9/75ml). Or leave it to the somm with the ‘Learn-a-Drink’ option ($13/75ml). Also check out the wine bistro’s weekly flight tastings (around $35), such as ‘Cabernet, the Bastard King’, where you’ll be sipping three Cab varietals.
Gerald Lu, National Sommelier Champion 2010, is the main man you’ll want to seek out for recommendations. Reds, whites, rosés, dessert and sparkling wines – an even mix of both classic and modern producers, refreshed every week – range from $15 to $200 a glass, and $70 to $10,000 a bottle. But the most popular tipples are grower champagnes (from $23/glass) – particularly the NV De Stefani Prosecco Brut Zero.
With over 600 labels and 3000 bottles of wine on offer in its leather-bound tome of a menu, Ma Cuisine has cemented itself as a gastro wine bar for the serious connoisseurs. That's not to say that only the stuffy Bordeaux sipping elite are welcomed here – the restaurant's young owners Anthony Charmetant and Mathieu Escoffier want to share their passion for wine with beginners and experts alike, all within a casual setting that also serves homey French food. Let them take you on a journey of discovery, sampling wines such as a La Vie On Y Est Domaine Gramenon 2016 ($98) from Rhone, a Chardonnay Champ Perrier Domaine Tessier 2014 ($88) from Bourgogne and a Pinot Noir Domaine Duroche 2014 ($118) from Gevrey Chambertin. The wines are the focus here, but Escoffier, who used to cook in the kitchen of Saint Pierre, recommends traditional dishes like homemade terrine ($27) and lamb shoulder with root vegetables (market price) to complete the experience.
This is hands down, every oenophiles' most beloved shrine to natural wines. And you know it’s legit because it’s always buzzing with industry folks. There’s no catalogue at this gastrobar – its 150-or-so labels (from $78) are all on display and constantly changing. If it’s an education you’re after, swing by every day (well, Tue to Sat), because the wines-by-the-glass (there's usually one white, one red and if you're lucky, an orange, from $16) change daily. Look out also for #TastingTuesday announcements on social media: each week, RVLT offers a thematic flight of three to five vinos – for example wines fermented in terracotta vessels – at wallet-friendly prices. (Psst. There’s a $15 discount on take-home bottles too.)
In an intimate 54-seater space, this wine bar places proud emphasis on vino from the Old World, with 32 European wines rotated every week alongside a Grands Crus selection – the highest level of vineyard classification in Burgundy, France. Owner Jean-Christophe Cadoret works closely with his team in France to select wines for import. You don't have to commit to a full glass either, there are tasting (25ml) and half-portions (75ml) that start from an unbelievable $2. For those of you who want to indulge in a glass of 2004 Chateau Latour Pauillac ($342/glass, $1710/ bottle) or 2005 Mouton Rothschild ($378/glass, $1890/bottle), you'll find them on the menu too.
If complex vino jargon puts you off, worry not, because wine is demystified here: reds are divided into ‘smooth’, ‘fruity’ and ‘spicy’, while whites are split into ‘dry’, ‘rich’ and so forth, complete with a colour-coding system so you’ll have an idea of the colour of your drink. Napoleon’s iPad menus also come preloaded with wine information and short clips from winemakers describing their vino – e-sommeliers, if you will.
The former wine-serious bar emerges from its revamp with a more approachable bistro and wine bar concept, and retains wine as its drinks protagonist. Evident from the imposing floor-to-ceiling, glass-encased cellar housing fine wines from over 700 labels, the wine doesn’t play second fiddle to the food here – the two stand proudly shoulder to shoulder with guests having the option pairing wine with food or vice versa. Some of the classic French dishes one can expect to find here – to ‘pair with and lift the wine’ – include seafood papillote, chicken liver parfait and tarte flambée.
On the wine list are mostly Old World varietals ranging from Pouilly Fume Kriotine from the Loire Valley ($16/glass, $75/bottle) to Tortochot Gevrey-Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois ($30/glass, $150/bottle).
Sip, swirl and savour: that’s what co-owners Bruno Vaillant and Geoffrey Weckx hope you’ll do at 13% Gastro Wine. Their combined 50 years of experience in the wine game lend a hand in their selection of European labels and New World varieties, (shop)housed in a charming unit in Kampong Glam.
Wines start from $10 a glass and $36 a bottle, with lists refreshed twice-weekly and new labels brought in every month. Favourites include the 2009 Jurtschitsch Heiligenstein Riesling ($54/bottle) and 2010 Domaine de Piaugier, Reserve de Maude Cotes du Rhone ($69/bottle). Its space, complete with an 8-metre mosaic bar, private wine room and cheese counter, is also used for master classes held on most Saturday afternoons. If you’re keen, sign up for the mailing list through its website. Two outlets, including one at Killiney Rd.
Housed in a sleek, well-lit chamber in La Terre are 500 labels of predominantly Old World reds, whites and champagnes (from $20/glass, $91/bottle). The wine and whisky bar takes its spirits seriously, too, but take your time to appreciate the vino. Because the sommelier here certainly does.
Daisuke Kawai, formerly of Les Amis, tastes the majority of the bottles from select winemakers before they’re brought in. If you’re keen on a rare vintage, La Terre carries 50 bottles from the ’50s to ’90s, such as the Vega Sicilia, Unico ($2292)
and peaking at a princely $13,258 for a 1948 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations: the somms here discern each customer’s palate depending on preferred fruit profiles and notes. And bottles are replenished twice a week, so you can be sure there’s always a good bubbly on hand.