The Best Places to Drink Wine in Brooklyn

Not all that long ago, it was hard to imagine that, say, a neighborhood like Williamsburg would be much more than a shot-and-a-shitty-beer kind of town. And while it hasn’t erased that part of its nature (thankfully), a unique wine culture has sprung up there—one that doesn’t feel all that far removed from the neighborhood’s reputation as a counter-cultural enclave awash in PBR.

In a general sense, Brooklyn—a city unto itself—has always done things a bit differently than its over-lording sibling to the west. And that includes its approach to wine. Williamsburg is only one small patch of an entire new fabric of restaurants trying to understand what it means to drink progressively in the borough—from the philosophical revamp of old standby River Café to the unlikely depth of the wine list at Atrium to the value-driven embrace of freak fringe at Vinegar Hill House. The list below is by no means comprehensive; it is instead an ever-evolving snapshot of the diversity of excellent wine restaurants to be found in Brooklyn.

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  • 1

    Atrium

    Tucked in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, Atrium is one of the more unlikely restaurants to boast a list of this depth and value. Helmed by Master Sommelier Alexander LaPratt (formerly of both Le Bernardin and Jean Georges), the list is a tightly curated list of mostly blue-chip wines at incredibly low prices. Here you can drink everything from López de Heredia from the 1980s (whose wines have shot up in price over the last few years) from the 1980s to Barolo from 1990s at $150 or less. While this is really a place for the classics, LaPratt does go off-piste to offer some unexpected value from places like ...

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  • 2

    Buttermilk Channel

    A cozy, Southern-inflected, Carroll Gardens neighborhood joint, Buttermilk Channel's wine list has always been much better than it's needed to be. The restaurant, which opened in late 2008, debuted with a list almost exclusively dedicated to American wine, a focus that was incredibly rare during a time when New York was just warming up to the idea that California made more than just massive cabernet. Co-owner Doug Crowell—who ran front of the house at Blue Water Grill for a decade and cooked, before that, at both Le Grenouille and Picholine—was one of the first true prophets for the budding crop of new California ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • New California wine
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • brunch
  • 3

    Franny's

    A longtime fixture on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights since 2004 (they moved across the street and down the block in 2013), Franny's continues to pack in the neighborhood stroller set with their much-buzzed-about pizzas and seasonal, locally sourced menu. Ease into the night ahead with a plate of salumi and one of the dozen-plus aperitivi on the rocks options or an amaro-laced cocktail. The list of Italian wine has always been one of the city's most forward-thinking, embracing both the old-school classics and the sorts of lesser-known regional wines that are quietly redefining our notions of what regions ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
    • pizza
    • natural wine
    • Italian wine
    • amaro
  • 4

    Maison Premiere

    Equal parts Belle Epoque Paris, old French Quarter New Orleans and modern-day Brooklyn, Maison Premiere is a stage of precise service and misty nostalgia that inspires suspension of disbelief without exposing a seam. The cocktail list is comprehensive, encompassing a section dedicated to the house spirit—absinthe—a julep selection, seasonal drinks and a well-curated wine list that is heavy on traditional French wines at very fair markups, including a particularly impressive collection of grower Champagne, back-vintage Muscadet and White Burgundy. Maison's oyster menu is one of New York's most extensive and composed ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • natural wine
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • oysters / raw bar
    • outdoor / patio
  • 5

    Prime Meats

    You can't talk about Brooklyn without talking about the Franks. In 2010 Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli opened Prime Meats, two doors down from their decade-old Frankies 457 Spuntino. The handsome bar (and killer classic-with-a-modern-twist cocktail program developed by Damon Boelte) helped make it one of Brooklyn's most beloved spots to grab a drink alongside steak tartare, oysters and steak frites. The wine list has also evolved over the years to become the most eclectic and lengthy in the Franks' progeny, with an always-appealing mash-up of whites from both Germany and Austria and a strong selection of ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • day drinking
    • outdoor / patio
    • oysters / raw bar
    • brunch
  • 6

    Reynard

    When Lee Campbell took control of all of the wine programs within Andrew Tarlow's Brooklyn restaurant empire (Marlow & Sons, Diner, Reynard, Roman's), it was almost guaranteed that the lists would get a proper overhaul. The most "upscale" flagship of the four restaurants, and its list is a who's who of French natural winemakers folded into what is likely the largest selection of grower champagne this side of the East River. This a great list on its own, but in context its exponentially more important as both a beacon and symbol of Williamsburg's evolution from a strictly shitty-beer-and-shot kind of town (it still is ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • champagne
    • craft beer
  • 7

    River Café

    The River Café opened in 1977 on the banks of the East River in Dumbo, then a mostly-deserted section of Brooklyn; it remains, to this day, one of the most fortuitous (save, of course, for the devastation of Hurricane Sandy) instances of foresight in Brooklyn restaurant history. The restaurant, which has played host to some of the most influential American chefs—from David Burke to Charlie Palmer—has remained true to its classic roots. The wine collection has been helmed by the same beverage director, Joseph DeLissio, since it opened. Though the list is long on trophy California wines—something you’d expect from a ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • vintage wine
    • full menu
    • historic
    • outdoor / patio
  • 8

    Roberta's

    Walk inside Bushwick's Roberta's and you'll find a patchwork setting of communal tables and picnic benches, strings of hanging lights, a rooftop garden, outdoor seating pockets, a tented tiki bar, a shipping crate that serves as a food-focused radio station, a bustling take-out operation and Blanca, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant within a restaurant. The wine list offers all of the esoterica one might expect from the manic brilliance of Roberta's, from cider to orange wine to sherry to the "AMERICA, YA$$ KWEEN" section. Beer is also a solid order here, especially when paired with a Speckenwolf pie (mozzarella, ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • day drinking
    • outdoor / patio
    • tiki
    • brunch
    • pizza
  • 9

    St. Anselm

    A railroad room with a small bar on one end and a chef's counter on the other, St. Anselm doesn't look like much from the outset. But Joe Carroll's reinvention of the classic steakhouse puts out some of the best food in the borough. Carroll, who also owns both the beer bar next door, Spuyten Duyvil, and the barbecue mainstay across the street, Fette Sau, has stayed true to his version of the steakhouse model by compiling a relatively robust collection of wines. The list itself is more or less an unedited trip inside the mind of Carroll, who loves wine but has managed to keep enough distance from the wine world that ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • French wine
    • California wine
    • craft beer
    • full menu
    • brunch
    • steakhouse
  • 10

    The Four Horsemen

    The brainchild of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and his wine expert friends, The Four Horseman has succeeded in further embedding natural wine into the fabric of Williamsburg's drinking culture. The list here is heavy on France and Italy, with no shortage of Spanish or American wines either. The pleasantly Scandinavian interior invites you to park at a table or the bar and snack from the excellent menu of small plates while going deep on the wine list (which wears low markups) with the help of the bar's well-educated staff.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • full menu
  • 11

    Vinegar Hill House

    When a winding walk through DUMBO, Brooklyn's old waterfront warehouse neighborhood, deposits you at the door of a rustic, romantic charmer like Vinegar Hill House, you know you're in good hands. Regulars keep coming back for the signature Red Wattle pork chop and the line-up of seasonal cocktails spiked with aromatic ingredients like hopped grapefruit bitters, rosemary-allspice and shiso furikake. On the wine front, Vinegar Hill House's wine director Bill Fitch has been introducing Brooklyn to some of the wine world's undersung heroes for years. With a focus on natural wine from all over the world—with a particular ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • champagne
    • craft cocktails
    • outdoor / patio
    • full menu

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