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Tour the Bay Area’s hippest wine bars

There are many high-end restaurants in San Francisco where you can enjoy fine dining with a fabulous glass (or two) of wine. But what if you just want to relax with friends while sipping on a glass of wine and nibbling on cheese or tapas? It might be time to try a wine bar. What follows is a short list of wine bars in San Francisco where you can do just that.

Union Larder
1945 Hyde Street, San Francisco

If you like to watch the world go by, secure a seat in front of the tall glass windows facing Hyde Street. Choose from over 60 kinds of cheeses to pair with your bottle of red or white. Or, take your pick from their house-made charcuterie including mortadella and rabbit terrine. There is also cured meat from Spain like jamon Iberico and loukaniko salami from Portland, Oregon.

Noir Lounge
581 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA

By day, they serve hearty sandwiches and comfort food; at night, they turn into a casual wine bar where old movies flicker on the walls. Sometimes a piano player will turn up. You never know what to expect and that element of surprise keeps the place more interesting.

Terroir Natural Wine Merchant
1116 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA

Terroir is one of the city’s original wine bars. They specialize in organic and hard- to-find varietals from Europe and California. You can sit at the elegant mezzanine or occupy the long tables at the front of the bar.

The Hidden Vine
408 Merchant Street, San Francisco, CA

This place is slightly hidden with décor that walks the line between rustic and all-out sumptuous. Exposed brick, velvet and leather furnishings, artful tapestries, a fireplace, and wooden beams make the bar feel homey and luxe at the same time. There’s also a bocce court you can book for an hour with a minimum wine and food purchase. The Hidden Vine’s wine list is extensive, with 180 bottles, 50 of which can be purchased by the glass. If you aren’t sure, try one of the comparison flights they offer.

Wine Down
685 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA

Finally, a wine bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously! The co-founders quit their jobs and opened this casual, elegant space where a glass of wine costs $10 a pop. They serve around 16 wines coming from independent California wineries. During happy hour from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., patrons get $5.00 off the wine and cheese platters.

Amelie
1754 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA

If you love all things French, you have to visit Amelie. You’ll love the romantic vibe and the wine list focuses on French imports that change daily. Live bands play on Sunday and Monday from 7 to 9 at night. Happy hour runs from 5 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Birba
58 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA

The name of this wine bar means “small troublemaker” in Italian. It’s a tiny place, seating approximately 16 people at full capacity, which is why it does not accept reservations. Wines are listed in order of body, so if you don’t recognize a name but know what you like, this should help you decide. Most of their wines come from Germany, France, and Italy. The food menu goes beyond the usual charcuterie and cheese. Birba also serves sardines with radishes and drunken shrimp toast. If you want something new and different, this is the place.

Etcetera Wine Bar
795 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA

This laid-back wine bar’s warm and inviting environment keeps customers coming back for more. Wines are sourced from all around the world, while tapas or small plates include seasonal bruschetta, salmon blinis, vegan beer cheese, and their famous flammekueche or tarteflambée. Etcetera Wine Bar also supports local artists by hanging their work on its walls and hiring an art receptionist to introduce the art to guests.

There are many more wine bars to try in the San Francisco area. These are just a very few to give you an idea of where to start sampling. Cheers!

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