Pretentious and snobby wine bars are, thankfully, a thing of the past -- at least as far as we're concerned. We like our wine bars fun and full of life with an outstanding staff who will refrain from laughing at our questions and will happily pair our food with a wine of their choice.
Speaking of food -- we don't care if it's a cheese board or a plate of perfectly seared duck breast, it has to be good.
With so many awesome wine bars in the Valley, it was really hard to narrow it down to just ten, but we gave it our best shot. In no particular order, here are our favorites.
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10. Down Under Wines & Bistro -- Nearly a decade ago, owner and Australian native Robert Carpenter quit his day job and moved out to Arizona to follow his passion for wine, and we're so happy he did. Where else in Phoenix can you pair Australian wines with crocodile spring rolls? Phoenix's only Australian-themed wine bar offers an extensive selection of wines from Australia, Spain, Argentina, California, and Oregon and pairs them with eccentric Aussie-Asian fusion eats like kangaroo burgers, seared barramundi, and grilled lamb chops.
9. 5th and Wine -- This Scottsdale wine bar isn't your typical Old Town
8.Terroir Wine Pub -- This Scottsdale wine spot feels more like your favorite neighborhood beer bar than your typical wine bar. The staff is incredibly friendly and will take the time to help even the most inexperienced wine drinkers pick their perfect wine. And it doesn't hurt that their wine pours are more than generous. Ride your bike to the wine pub, and you'll get any glass of wine that they're pouring for $8. And their comfy patio is dog friendly if you feel like drinking with Fido.
7. 32 Shea -- Sitting smack dab in the middle of a run-down strip mall parking lot sits the absolutely adorable 32 Shea. This place has it all -- coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner -- and a great wine selection. Kick back on their quaint patio with a glass of wine from their expertly chosen wine menu with a plate of tasty bruschetta and watch the world of 32nd Street and Shea go by.
6. Sportsman's Fine Wines & Spirits -- Half expansive wine & liquor store and half cozy wine sipping room & bistro, Sportsman's has been kickin' it for more than 25 years. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through the world of wines, and they are never too busy to help you find that perfect pinot. Enjoy a glass of wine from the extensive wine bar list, or take your pick from any of the 1500+ bottles in the store -- now that's selection! If you go, be sure to try one of their impressive cheese plates. And always be on the lookout for their frequent wine tasting events.
5. Vintage 95 -- Chandler's newest wine bar has been a hit with the Chandler crowd since its November opening. The staff is top notch, the food is way above average, and the wine selection can't be beat (unless you're at a wine shop, of course). We even spotted an Anderson Conn Valley Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir on their bottle list recently. The interior is perfect for intimate conversations, and the patio is great for an evening out with your closest friends.
4. Cheuvront -- This bright and airy downtown Phoenix wine & cheese cafe is our favorite spot to hit when we sneak out of work a little early for a glass of vino and a plate of fancy cheeses. We can never decide which wine we want to try, but that never matters because the staff is always right there to help us out (although we normally just go for the wine flight). Happy hour is a do-not miss with spectacular small plates for just $5, and be sure to try the house-made pumpkin bread pudding.
3. Timo -- Our very favorite Sunnyslope restaurant and bar offers an outstanding wine list and fabulous wood-fired eats to compliment each and every glass. We've driven across town on more then one occasion to indulge in a wonderful loaf of fresh wood-fired bread and a glass of Rodney Strong Chardonnay on their lush "this can't be Phoenix" patio -- it's almost like a tiny vacation from real life.
2. Postino Arcadia -- We love Postino Central, and we're pretty sure we're going to love this micro-chain's newest Gilbert location; but we'll always have a soft spot for the original Arcadia location. We have never been disappointed in the service or the food (although the live music can be a bit loud at times). The atmosphere is wonderful and perfectly suitable for any occasion, any time of the day. You won't find any $100 bottles of wine on the list, but that's fine with us. Postino keeps it simple with a killer selection of great wines that we can actually afford. Stop by Monday or Tuesday after 8 p.m. and score a board of bruschetta and a bottle of wine for just $20.
1. Kazimierz -- Once you find the hidden entrance of Old Town Scottsdale's coolest wine bar, give your eyes a second to adjust to the dark surroundings and then ask for the impressive book of wines. Oh yeah, they have a book of wines, and it's huge. Kazimierz has over 2000 wines from all over the world waiting for you to sip and enjoy (don't worry, the staff will help you pick something great in your price range). The interior feels more like a wine cellar in a European castle then a bar in the middle of Scottsdale, which makes us like this place even more. The kitchen serves up satisfying small plates until 1:45 a.m. daily, perfect for the wine drinking night owls out there.