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11 Great Wine Bars in Metro Phoenix

In a time that doesn't seem too long ago, Americans approached wine with a sense of dread. Stumbling over French names, listening to the intimidating patter of the sommelier (who had what looked like an ashtray hanging from his neck), smelling the cork, sipping and giving a nod of approval -- the whole ritualized process seemed arcane and utterly pretentious.

See also: -- 10 Places in Metro Phoenix to Get Great Pancakes -- 9 Great Places to Drink Outdoors in Metro Phoenix

Then along came wine bars and, suddenly, wine drinking got a lot more fun. Servers offered quick wine suggestions without making us feel like rubes, and wines by the glass allowed us to try new things without making expensive mistakes, and the wine bar ambiance was just upscale enough to make us feel like civilized human beings out for a relaxed good time -- not cougars and hound dogs on the make. In that spirit, we offer 11 Metro Phoenix wine bars you shouldn't miss.

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Nikki Buchanan