With new natural wine bars opening every month in New York and restaurants starting to fill up their wine lists with natural wines, it’s never been a better time to dive into natural wines. Here are the best natural wine bars in NYC.
Natural wine, biodynamic wine, pét-nat, raw wine, low intervention. You’ve probably heard these words get tossed around the last few years when wine bottles (and the people who love them) are nearby. In the last decade, natural wine has been booming, no longer just a secret cult among the vino cognoscenti.
And natural wine bars have followed. In New York City, for example, the dining landscape is sprinkled with wine bars that only serve natural wine and restaurants whose wine lists heavily lean on the natural variety. Natural wines, which can be broadly defined as wine without additives (like extra sulfates) and without the use of pesticides and herbicides, can taste like a different sort of breed of beverage. They can be funky, slightly effervescent, cloudy, and above all, really fun and exciting to drink.
If natural wine is your, ahem, Achilles heel, then this wine bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn should be on your radar. Achilles Heel is brought to you by the people who gave us Brooklyn’s fave restaurants Roman’s, and Marlow & Sons. It’s an unpretentious place with a smart natural wine list and inspiring food. As if a dive bar closed down and the owners just moved in without changing much.
The food menu changes weekly, but expect seasonal, market-driven veg-forward, organic fare. The wine list also changes regularly, stocking the cellar with whatever natural wine producers the staff happens to be digging that week or month. It’s sure to be a hit, though.
The Four Horsemen
Williamsburg’s best wine bar is also a natural wine mecca. Owned by James Murphy—yep, LCD Soundsystem fans, rejoice. This Michelin-starred spot has a 57-page wine list (no, it’s more like a novella or a doorstop). There are a legion of French selections as well as some seriously great off-the-radar options from the central Dalmatian Coast in Croatia, Slovenia, and northern Austria. This unique selection makes this spot one of the most unique natural wine bars in NYC.
When you get hungry at The Four Horsemen, there’s an ever-changing menu of globe-trotting goodness in the form of small plates. Expect things like crispy potato pavé with Japanese curry, Roman-style chicory, and olive oil-poached cod.
An offshoot of Gem, California prodigy chef Flynn McGarry’s prix-fixe Lower East Side eatery, Gem Wine sits around the corner. This natural wine bar has a nicely curated list of bottles from California, Spain, Italy, and France. The secret star of the show, though, is the menu of small plates. Lamb tartare in an oyster emulsion, confit albacore with braised beans, and mackerel with rhubarb ponzu are some of the standouts.
June Wine Bar
Located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, June specializes in European natural wines. The bar first popped a cork in 2015, making it the first all-natural wine bar in Brooklyn. Come thirsty because the wine list here includes some spectacular selections, including sparkling orange wine from Emilia-Romagna, some crisp white wine blends from Moravia (the eastern half of the Czech Republic), and ample amounts of bottles from France and Italy.
Snacks to pair with the wine include Camembert with rhubarb jam, grilled carrots with whipped ricotta and fermented chili, and three-milk gouda cheese with nectarine preserves.
Located on the Lower East Side, Le Dive isn’t some Gallic-themed dive bar. Mon Dieu! It happens to be one of the newest and coolest natural wine bars in NYC. The medium-sized wine list at Le Dive—not surprising—leans heavily on Gallic wines with a few wink nods to Italy and Spain. Pair your vin with creamy burrata, mushroom pate, or steak tartare.
The goal at Rhodora, located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, is to eventually run this natural wine bar to produce exactly zero waste. The emphasis here is also on small-batch natural wine makers and distributors who eschew the use of single-use plastics and styrofoam. So if you’re drinking here, you’re doing your part to make the world a slightly better, more sustainable place.
The wine list leans heavily into France but also has some really nice bottles from Lazio in central Italy, Corsica, and Catalonia. You can soak up the wine with a creamy country pâté, tinned seafood, or a charcuterie plate.
Ruffian Wine Bar
Located in the East Village, Ruffian focuses on the wine and food of Central and Eastern Europe. The all-natural wines include some fabulous orange wines from the Republic of Georgia. The wine bar even offers wine classes. The food is seasonal, but there’s usually a khachapuri—Georgian baked cheese bread—on the menu plus a lot of vegetable-forward dishes.
Despite the name, don’t mistake St. Jardim for a Brazilian wine bar. This diminutive corner West Village spot is a third-wave coffee shop in the morning that transforms into an excellent natural wine bar in the evening. Cozy up to the L-shaped bar and sip from the ever-rotating selection of small producers, mostly from Europe. You might find a funky biodynamic wine from Czech winemaker Milan Nestarec or a lovely chilled Nebbiolo from Piedmont.
The seasonal market-driven food menu sticks mostly to Europe as well, with pan con tomate, tuna crudo with strawberries and almonds, and crispy soft-shell crab with pickled Hawaiian ginger.
This Lower East Side wine bar is run by the son of the owner of lauded wine shop Chambers Street Wines. Skin Contact is an ambient, unpretentious spot that offers a variety of nice natural wines, including some “skin contact” wines. To make these wines, the skin of the grape is allowed to stay on longer and thus affecting the wine in an oft-delicious way. They come from Austria, Portugal, and Italy, among other places. There are also some great low-intervention wines from Rioja, Moravia, and Oregon.
The Ten Bells
One of the first wine bars in New York City to focus on natural low-intervention wine, The Ten Bells (247 Broome St) is an atmospheric Lower East Side wine bar. It has a nice U-shaped bar that is perfect for sipping your way through a wine list of natural wines from France and Italy. But you can also find some lovely less-heralded wine regions like in Slovakia, Vermont, Utah, Slovenia, and the Republic of Georgia.
The happy hour until 7 pm each day offers $6 glasses and $18 carafes of selected wine. There is also a second location in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes here and here.