The ups and downs of San Antonio’s winter weather mean that drinking habits are all over the map. One day you’re cozying up with a hot toddy, and the next you’re catching a tropical breeze with a Mai Tai. But one precious liquid reigns eternal whether it’s a balmy 70 degrees or below freezing: wine. That’s why this month we’re setting our barometers on bold Nebbiolos and refreshing Rieslings at some of the best wine bars the city has to offer.
20nine Restaurant and Wine Bar
The important figure isn't the name, but the number of wines available by the bottle at this Alamo Heights hot spot — over 300 by last count. Owner Troy Fulmer has amassed a stupefying selection of the greatest varietals on earth, many of which can be enjoyed as part of a “road trip” flight, grouped by style, varietal, or region.
Candlelight Wine & Coffee Bar
We adore Candlelight, where velvety couches really allow the moment to sink in. The wine list isn’t as encyclopedic as some of the others on this roundup, but it covers all the bases, down to a tawny port. Plus, Candlelight's tasty brunch offers a weekly excuse to linger.
Copa Wine Bar
Life is a Cabernet, old chum, and there's a wide-reaching selection at this romantic Stone Oak lounge. But what sets it apart from other like bars is the refreshing selection of wine cocktails. Try a trio of sangrias — available in red, white, and rosé — or the sparkling wine spritzer with a touch of lime. When you really want to celebrate, however, order a Bellini re-imagined with a scoop of vanilla-peach sorbet.
Downstairs at the Esquire
Downstairs is one of the best places in Alamo City to get a good strong drink, but on Tuesdays it’s also one of the best places to get your bubble on. From 5-11:30 pm, select one of the eight Champagnes off the menu and get a bonus plate of chef Brooke Smith’s insanely tasty fried chicken. You may never make it above ground again.
High Street Wine Co.
On a busy night, space can be a premium at this shotgun wine bar located in the Pearl. But that’s a good thing. The cozy quarters lend a sense of intimacy to the space, helping ease conversation between tables (advanced sommelier Scott Ota’s unexpected wine list may have something to do with that, too). Settle in with a zesty Montepulciano and some fried fava beans. You’ll meet your new BFF in no time.
Soho Wine & Martini Bar
Maybe it’s the way we hold it by the stem or the verbose language used to describe it, but there is something very cosmopolitan about a glass of wine. So you might as well drink it in an equally urbane space. From the bank vault that provides storage behind the bar to the red and black color scheme, Soho exudes big city cool — especially when there’s live blues or jazz.
This charming Old Town Helotes space takes things back to the basics: good food and good wine. The tapas are from chef Phillip Manea, featuring hearty selections like goat cheese, caramelized onion, and prosciutto flatbreads and smoked salmon stuffed avocados that can stand up to even the most audacious red. Like a wine you sampled? Wine 101 earns extra credit by letting you take home a bottle from the retail side.