For a very long time, there wasn’t a ton of great wine in Philly. Blame the outdated laws, the conspiracy to keep liquor licenses in high demand, or the fact that Fine Wine & Good Spirits essentially acted as the Medicare For All of alcohol sales.
But now, we’ve got some quality places to buy wine, as well as restaurants and bars with large, diverse selections. Here are 15 of the best places to drink wine across the city.
Bloomsday is a natural wine bar in Headhouse Square, and it was one of the first places in Philly to focus on interesting, local wine producers after the alcohol laws were changed. Their bottles range from a dry rosé made from grapes grown in Pennsylvania to a txakolina from Spain that one waiter described as “the margarita of wine.” If you don’t have any idea what you want to drink, their staff is really good at helping you choose something - even if you have to try a bunch of samples.
Alimentari, which takes up the top floor of Di Bruno Bros, isn’t like the beer halls you’ll find inside of Whole Foods or Giant. This one’s actually a great wine bar, with stuff from all over the world, ranging from French bottles over $100 to stuff from newer natural producers in Chile and Oregon for under $40. And to describe the wines on the menu, they use funky phrases like “weirdly fantastic” and “best buds with pizza” under the names and regions. To go with the wine, they have more charcuterie board combinations than you can imagine, which makes the entire experience like having friends over for wine and cheese without having to do the dishes afterwards.
Lunar Inn might look like your average dive, but this Port Richmond bar has an excellent selection of mostly natural wine. They also play a bunch of vinyl, and host local DJ sets a few nights a week. But maybe the coolest thing about Lunar Inn is their onsite wine store, Tiny’s Bottle Shop. It’s right behind the bar in a space that’s essentially a garage, and they sell bottles of everything on Lunar Inn’s wine list, plus additional options depending on the season.
If your main reason for coming to Fountain Porter is the $5 burger and cheap tap beers, you’re not alone. But this East Passyunk dive bar quietly has one of the best reasonably-priced wine lists in the city. It’s filled with a rotating list of funky natural stuff and none of it’s over $12 a glass.
Jet Wine Bar looks like what we thought the future would look like in the ’80s - lots of primary-colored lighting and mod furniture. They also have a ton of great natural and local wines that you can buy by the glass or the bottle. They offer daily flights for $35, and their daily Happy Hour isn’t a bad deal either with $6 glasses of wine and an $8 cheese board.
We’d tell you to go to Forsythia for any type of drink - besides wine, they have excellent beer and cocktail lists. Plus, the French garden-esque space is just so nice to hang out in. But the wine list here makes this Old City restaurant really stand out. It’s two pages long, split between local and French bottles, and has more variety than the Mummers parade. Our personal favorite is a Pennsylvania Gruner that you can get for $25 for a carafe, but we like getting something new every time we visit since their selection is so good.
This South Street spot may look like a dive bar and serve all the classic pub food (nachos, burgers, etc.), but the biggest reason to hang out here is for their large selection of great natural wine. If you come here any day after work, you’ll find the loungey, retro space full of people drinking growlers of whatever they currently have on-tap. On your way out, stop by their small wine store in the front of the bar that’s stocked with most of the bottles they’re pouring from.
It’s impossible to ask your waiter at Wm. Mulherin’s for a wine recommendation without getting a full rundown of the list that sounds more like a pep talk than a simple grape juice description. The result is that you’ll leave more informed and excited about wine than you were when you came in - especially about that specific varietal that pairs perfectly with your mushroom cavatelli.
Le Caveau is the wine bar you’ve always wanted in your neighborhood - it’s somewhere you can walk in unannounced on a Thursday night with a date and immediately impress them just by knowing it exists. The dark, moody spot sits right above another of our favorite places, The Good King Tavern, and their wine list is primarily made up of natural bottles, divided between “France” and “Not France.” There’s also a short menu of bar snacks like a hot dog wrapped in a baguette and salted chocolate mousse, but you should come here for a glass of wine when you want to feel like you’re cooler than you actually are.
Fishtown Social, a wine bar on Frankford Avenue, has a ton of interesting natural bottles on the menu - especially ones from Oregon, as well as a couple of things to eat like an enormous meat and cheese board. There’s also a hidden bottle shop behind the bar that’s easy to miss - you can purchase bottles of everything that’s on their menu plus a rotating selection of wines that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
When Pizzeria Beddia first opened, we were mostly looking forward to their famous big, boardwalk-style pies. What quickly became clear, though, was that the wine list here is just as much of a highlight as the pizza. The options range from $11 glasses of on-tap natural wine to an $82 bottle of red from Italy that’s the most expensive thing on the list. Maybe the best part, though, is that every bottle on the menu seems to pair perfectly with at least one of their pies - even the one with a cherry sauce as a base.
If there’s ever a night when you have a couple of free hours and want to learn about wine, head to the bar at Fitz And Starts. Not only will you be inviting the bartender to your housewarming party after 15 minutes, but you’ll also get a great lesson on their wine list (if you ask for it). And it’s a great, super diverse list considering what they offer and how much you’ll pay - from four $9 glasses on tap to a $50 bottle of Italian lambrusco to an $85 chenin blanc from France. Plus, if you hang out long enough, maybe with a book and a plate of their fluffy bread and butter, they’ll probably give you a few tastes for free.
Vedge might be one of the most expensive places to drink wine in Philly - there’s a $750 bottle of Montepulciano on the menu - but it’s also one of the best. The vegan fine-dining spot in Midtown Village has been around since 2011, and they’ve been championing natural and organic wine since they opened. While the menu is on the pricey side, you don’t have to spend your entire tax return on a bottle here. There are a significant number of bottles for around $50 and $60 as well.
Sharing a bottle is great when you know what you want, but sometimes you’re indecisive, or want to try a bunch of different stuff. That’s when it’s good to have a restaurant with not just a long list of bottles, but a lot of wines served by the glass. Walnut Street Cafe, an all-day cafe by 30th Street Station, is one of those places. They serve over 40 of their wines by the glass, including $13 glasses of champagne and a $24 glass of white burgundy.
The wine list at A.bar in Rittenhouse is one of the most extensive ones in the city. That means that it’s basically picking out something from a wine store at your table, but it also can be tough to make a choice. Luckily, the servers are crazy knowledgeable, and more than happy to give you tastes of anything - especially the new bottles they’re particularly excited about.