Today, the craft beer and specialty cocktail scenes are all the rage. And it’s no secret that Buffalo has those libations available in droves. For me, beer and fancy mixers have a time and place, but the faithful standby is most definitely wine.

So, as you can likely assume, I’ve sampled many vintages from different regions at just about every wine bar and restaurant around town. I promise you this: our wine game is strong. Here’s a rundown of my top 5 places to enjoy the grape of your choice (for me, always a full-bodied cab or merlot).

Me with my favorite cab at Just Vino – Photo by Aaron Ingrao

Just Vino (846 Main Street, Buffalo)
This is the sophisticate wine bar version of the “corner bar”. A relaxed, neighborhood atmosphere will greet you and the wine selection will delight you. Chat with the staff – they’ve tried all the wines and will be sure to find the right one for you. And ask about their wine parties!

Bacchus (56 West Chippewa, Buffalo)
Bacchus sits in the heart of the downtown entertainment district, anchoring the corner of Franklin and Chippewa. That means you can’t miss it – nor should you. The wine list and award-winning food pairings are offered in the stunning dining room, and the bar offers you a cosmopolitan experience like no other, with a variety of wines to accompany every moment.

Parings (5893 Main Street, Williamsville)
Pick a handful of wines by the glass and fill up this slick wine tree. Pair it (hence their name) with a fine dinner or dessert and you’re on your way to a great night. You’ll love the intimate setting, too.

Salvatore’s Italian Gardens (6461 Transit Road, Depew)
Salvatore’s takes their wine seriously. Just look at any of their wine rooms (note: yes, there’s more than one). The wine list goes on for miles, and the prices won’t scare you away either – especially on half-priced wine Wednesdays.

Shango Bistro and Wine Bar (3260 Main Street, Buffalo)
This University Heights staple boasts a Wine Spectator-awarded wine list 170 bottles strong. Shango embodies the spirit of a true neighborhood wine bar and bistro — offering a light, fun atmosphere paired with serious food and drink.

Uncorking Buffalo’s Top Wine Bars

Photo courtesy of Shango Bistro & Wine Bar

As you make your way through this tour, here are a few helpful hints to make you look like a connoisseur when the bottle is brought to your table:

– Tilt the glass slightly, and bring it to your nose. Take in the aromas with a deep breath.

– Place the glass on the table and give it a slow twirl. This will release the flavors.

– Take a slow sip, but don’t swallow right away. Swish it around your mouth, let the flavors hit your taste buds.

– Put the glass down and say something cheeky like, “Soft tannins, easy finish…and nice legs!”

Despite what some may say, there is no wrong way to drink wine. But enjoying it with the atmosphere and ambiance found at these places is likely to make the experience all the better.


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