The famous (and perpetually disgruntled) 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire once said, "With wine, with poetry or with virtue, as you choose. But get drunk.” We're taking him at his word and skipping straight to the wine. Here's where to get started and make the ghost of Baudelaire happy.
Anyone new to wine should go here first. Bodega serves 40 wines by the glass and 10 flights at reasonable prices. The extremely knowledgeable staff will tell you anything and everything you need to know about the wines you’re sampling. Additionally, wine specials listed on the blackboard are charged by the ounce, so you can sample before you commit to a full glass. Bottles are some of the best deals to be found in Dallas, and if you buy one to go it’s $10 off the drink-it-here price. You can also bring in your own bottle and pay a $10 corkage fee. Their best-price guarantee makes this an excellent place to shop as well as drink, and their monthly fairs ($25 for 20+ samples) give you a great opportunity to sip and shop.
Nestled away in Lakewood, Bodega’s small, inviting locale is perfect as chilly weather sets in. Two gas fireplaces and a host of candles warm the room, sofa seating areas provide a comfortable place to chat with friends, and cushy bar stools around large tables are good if you want to snack on a cheese plate.
If you’re looking for variety in your by-the-glass choices, Mercy is your place. But if too many choices can leave you paralyzed, stay away. Their comprehensive menu offers nearly 100 wines by the glass from all over the world, including crisp Pinot Blanc from Alsace and an excellent red South African blend, unusual sights for Dallas. Wines are available in 3 oz or 6 oz pours, and if you really love something, you can take a bottle home with you at retail price.
This Addison wine bar is an excellent choice if you’re after a sexy dinner date — drapes, chandeliers, dim lighting and a long granite bar with leather barstools create a romantic atmosphere. The popular upstairs Red Room can be reserved for large groups. Saturday night means live jazz, and Mercy has an extensive dinner menu of sandwiches and French-style main courses.
You know you’re in the mood for wine, but you have no idea what you want. Head to Cork, load up a Cork card with a few dollars, and start sampling. With 48 bottles “on tap,” you can choose a 1 oz pour of everything that sounds interesting at a reasonable price. If you find something you love, you can upgrade to a full glass. The wine bar is semi-automated: You use the touchscreen to navigate to what you want, swipe your card to purchase it, and the system notifies a bartender to serve you. If 48 options aren't enough, over 350 bottles are stocked to buy at retail price and open on-site or take to-go. Cork’s modern style doesn’t have the cozy feel or plush seating of many other popular wine bars, but the light wood and bright interior make for a cheery atmosphere.
4. The Wine Therapist
You know your night’s going to be good when you enter a hole in the wall that just has a small neon sign saying “WINE” hung above the entrance. Inside the dimly lit establishment, four large wooden tables, a wall of wine and a bar already filled with regulars await you. A perky bartender comes over to your table, hands you a menu and lets you know you can sample anything you’d like. Three generous samples later, you decide on a reasonably priced glass of red, and then another, and then another, and then you’re waking up in your bed the next morning trying to remember the last hour of your evening, wondering if you hallucinated the waiters dirty-dancing with each other and thanking any and every religious deity that Uber exists.
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The Wine Therapist is a neighborhood bar, but with wine, so it’s pretty much the most perfect place on earth. You can buy bottles to take with you at retail price, and they usually have amazing sales on wine they’re discontinuing, and once again you’re thanking Jesus and Pookong that you didn’t drop those four bottles you bought as you stumbled up the stairs last night.
5. Veritas Wine Room
Bradley and Brooks Anderson are the wine royalty of Dallas, and if their restaurants Boulevardier and Rapscallion don’t prove that to you, their award-winning wine bar should. Veritas invites you in with the best kind of decor, wine bottles lining the walls. This cozy wine bar offers a rotating selection of glasses, based on season, harvest and staff whims. The number of offerings varies, but is usually around 30. Glasses are half-price on Mondays and Veritas occasionally hosts “Epic Tastings” that live up to the name. For those who want to try exquisite, expensive wines, several are on Coravin, a tool for pouring from a bottle without pulling the cork. If you fall in love with their selections, you can join their wine club, offered in tiers to meet your price point.