While artisanal cocktails and craft beer get all the attention in Miami these days, the city still has plenty to offer oenophiles looking for hard to find vintages or wines produced at small vineyards around the world. Many fine restaurants boast impressive wine lists, but these are the bars devoted primarily to the appreciation of wines in all their variety, vintages and price points.
Located at the edge of Midtown with a massive outdoor patio and a an indoor shop selling wines by the bottle, artisinal hunks of cheese and charcuterie, Miamians line up at Lagniappe House to buy their goods and snag a table and chairs outside to feast. There's an outdoor grill for everything from churrasco to mahi fresh from the flames. That's also where an attendant will create a custom cheese and charcuterie plate with toasted bread, honey or preserves out of the selections you bought inside. This New Orleans-inspired joint is one of the only places to enjoy live music in Miami every night, featuring an eclectic roster of bands, often with an emphasis on jazz and instrumental combos. 3425 NE 2nd Ave, Midtown; 305-576-0108; lagniappehouse.com.
Just north of SoBe's tranquil SoFi neighborhood on Jefferson Ave., WD 555 is part-bistro, part-wine shop, so whether you want a bottle to go or prefer sipping your vino in a lovely back patio, the option is yours. You can even bring your own bottle (for a small corkage fee) and dine on French and Spanish fare or simply nibble on cheese and charcuterie. With everything from 2006 Cristal de Roederer for $275 to a $13 Vigneron Prestige CDR by the botte, they also have abundant options for rose and grand crus ($819 Chateau Margaux Margaux 1er Cru Classe A, anyone?). This place hits all the right notes for wine aficionados and novices, alike. 555 Jefferson Ave., South Beach; 305-672-6161; winedepot555online.com.
Cibo Wine Bar
With locations in Coral Gables, South Beach and coming soon to Fort Lauderdale, Cibo dishes up Italian fare along with its vino in a buzzy setting for those looking for a night on the town. Its original location on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables is a rustic, elegant den for sipping your favorite vintage paired with a pungent beef carpaccio or thin crust pizza. With ample options for wines by the glass or bottle, the Nero D'Avola ($10) is a bright red from Sicily by the glass, while the Emilia IGT Lambrusca is a unique (and affordable), sparkling red by the bottle ($30). For those in the mood to splurge, the menu is comprehensive with a $470 Super Tuscan Tenuta de Ornellaia, Bolgheri 2008 on the menu. 45 Miracle Mile; Coral Gables; 305-442-4925; additional location in South Beach. cibowinebar.com.
Featuring an inspired menu of small plates to complement its wine menu, Wine Vault in Midtown is a hip, cheery spot to head for happy hour or an evening out gabbing with friends. From mini burgers to mussels to flatbread pizzas, there's plenty to nosh on here to keep you from feeling peckish while you uncork the next bottle. For those so inclined, their chocolate and seasalt covered bacon is hard to resist. 3201 N. Miami Ave., Midtown; 786-691-2000; winevaultmiami.com.
Buena Vista Chocolate & Wine
With an already established loyal local following at its previous ventures, Buena Vista Bistro and Buena Vista Deli, it seems only apt that Buena Vista Chocolate & Wine would open up just down the block at the northern edge of the Design District. Serving a variety of delectable, handmade chocolate bonbons, the small shop also serves affordable wine by the bottle to take away or sip at a patio table outside. 4512 NE 2nd Ave., Design District; 305-396-6056; buenavistachocolate.com.
Pearl Champagne Lounge
Leave it to legendary South Beach party spot Nikki Beach to create a luxurious ultra VIP lounge dedicated to Champagne. At Pearl Champagne Lounge, those coveted, delicate bubbles take center stage. An opulent, white bôite with banquette table seating surrounding a central chandelier dripping from the ceiling, over-the-top chairs resemble shards of ice. With a $300 bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut the cheapest thing on the bottle service menu, this is definitely a place you come when popping bottles and dropping dollers is the main objective. One Ocean Drive, South Beach; 305-776-8105; pearlmiamibeach.com.
A Miracle Mile staple, Uvaggio wine bar is a warm and convivial spot, with bottles lining the wall, dishing up hearty pan-European fare to pair perfectly with its wide selection of wines, sherries, beers and creative concoctions (Dolin's Blanc Vermouth with Beet Crystals, anyone?). With a tongue-and-cheek menu designed to guide even the most nascent oeno to their preferred flavor profile, the menu is comprehensive and diverse enough for the discerning aficionados. 70 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-448-2400; uvaggiowine.com.
The Cheese Course
The Cheese Course, as the name implies, offers a mélange of cheeses, as well as up to 40 wine labels to pair them with. Sandwiches highlighting their fromage offerings are also par for the course here with selections like the warm applewood bacon with goat gouda, tomatoes, avocado, rosemary aioli and greens on a toasted wheat baguette. Most bottles can be opened and poured by the glass (except for the pricier bottles), so you can enjoy your favorite Riesling or Monastrell with a custom cheeseboard or sandwich. 3451 NE 1 Ave., #100, Midtown Miami; 786-220-6681; thecheesecourse.com.
El Carajo International Tapas and Wines
Pull into the BP gas station on US 1 off SW 17th Ave., and you’re in for a surprise. Inside the food and deli service bodega, squeezed between the croquettas and condoms, are boxes of wine. Not Wente magnums, but good stuff--Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Numanthia and Duval-Leroy Brut. Walk a little further and you’ll find romantic murals and bistro tables with wrought iron and wooden chairs, reminiscent of a Spanish cellar. There, you can dine on Spanish tapas from chorizo al vino (sausage in wine sauce) to bacalo a la Vizcaína (codfish Biscayne Style). A gorgeous, solid wooden table for wine tasting takes center stage in front of a wall of wine with offerings like a half bottle of 2007 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau. A tiny temperature-controlled room secures the finer, expensive wines like a Grand Cru Bordeaux and vintage Champagnes. And you just wanted to buy gas. 2465 SW 17th Ave., Miami; 305-856-2424; elcarajointernationaltapasandwines.com.
At Hollywood Vine, owner Steven Krakow has set out to sell delicious wine in a cool, unpretentious setting--and that’s exactly what he’s doing. Though at first glance, the chic, boutique-y space may seem like a hefty-price will be associated, it's not so. Bottles start at just $7 and there are free wine tastings on various evenings throughout the week. There's also a wide selection of bottles under $30--a 2007 Domaine Charvin à côté for $19, 2008 M. Cosentino Franc for $18 and 2008 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay for $28. But the pièce de résistance is the inexpensive, sample-size gourmet bites--$3 for a truffle mouse duck pâté, $2 for Point Reyes blue cheese and $5 for morbier along with an assortment of cured meats. Krakow also sells spirits, so you can always order cocktails at the bar if you're wined out. 2035 Harrison St., Hollywood; 954-922-2910; hvine.com.