From wine bars outfitted with wood ovens to ones with high-tech wine-dispensing systems, here are our picks for the 11 best wine bars in the Valley.
The Whining PigMultiple Locations
Now with several locations throughout the Valley, The Whining Pig takes the snob factor out of the wine bar experience. This is a fun place, and the menu speaks to the spot's laid-back atmosphere. If you sit at a high-top table, you can play a vintage game console including Sega and Nintendo, and there's even a dedicated game room if you'd rather play arcade or board games like Duck Hunt or PacMan as you drink. Ask the staff to show you the menu if you're having trouble finding it; beer and wine options are listed in handwritten chalk along a wall. Expect funky options like a sparkling blue chardonnay Blanc de Bleu Cuvée Mousseux to match the playful vibe.
Scapegoat Beer and Wine7150 East Fifth Avenue, Scottsdale
Scapegoat Beer & Wine is an intimate spot where guests can enjoy some peace and quiet in the middle of the busy Old Town Scottsdale scene. Wine lovers will appreciate the concise menu, which only features beer, wine, and small bites, as well as the variety of options. Expect glasses from all over the globe, including selections from New Mexico to New Zealand. Prices are reasonable, too. Best of all, you can pair your wine with fare from a menu dominated by rich small plates like marinated olives and fancy cheese puffs.
Terroir Wine Pub7001 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
What we love most about Terroir Wine Pub is the versatile setting. Drinkers can chat quietly in the private dining room, sit at one of the high-top tables, gather around the square-shaped bar to watch television, sink into the couch by the windows, or lounge around outside on the patio. The wine list features 30 rotating options, and though there's no happy hour, Terroir serves a list of wines that exceed expectations based on price. We downed a great red Italian wine at the bar, where you can look forward to generous pours and friendly bartenders eager to chat with guests. Small bites rule the food menu. Pair your wine with a choice of artisan cheese, charcuterie, bruschetta, and chocolates.
With many locations around the Valley, Postino Wine Cafe has created a veritable wine bar empire in this town. Each Arizona location has its charms, but we're partial to the Tempe Annex outpost. Maybe it's the spacious outdoor patio or the quirky decor, brick wall, and bookcases inside, but there's something about the Arizona State University-adjacent spot that makes us swoon. Expect to see students, colleagues enjoying after-work drinks, singles, and even families dining, and if you're sitting outside on the patio, you can watch students whiz by on bikes or skateboards on College Avenue. The star of the food menu here is the well-loved bruschetta boards, ranging from classics like mozzarella with tomato and basil to a seasonal offering. Sandwiches, appetizers, soups, and salads round out the approachable menu. And the wine list features a good variety of Old and New World wines with a few options from Arizona and South America thrown in for good measure.
Sorso Wine Room15323 North Scottsdale Road, #150, Scottsdale
What's Sorso Wine Room's most standout feature? Easily the 32-tap wine dispensing system. It works like this: Load money onto a card, stick the card in the machine, and pick from three different sizes of wine pours. It might sound cheesy, but it's actually a pretty cool way to try a few sips of wine without having to risk shelling out for a whole glass you end up disliking. The wine bar's expansive list (the restaurant claims to stock 150 bottles) has a strong focus on Old World wines, but there's also a bunch of California wines and a few Arizona wines, making for a solid mix. The Scottsdale Quarter restaurant features an al fresco patio and an industrial-chic indoor dining room decked out with metal chairs, a sleek bar, and distressed wooden tables. The food menu offers mostly small plates like bruschetta, salads, and sandwiches.
Timo Wine Bar8801 North Central Avenue, #104
Timo is a true gem in the Sunnyslope neighborhood. You'll likely feel instantly welcome the second you step onto the enclosed outdoor patio. It makes for a romantic setting that's inviting not only to couples, but also to singles, colleagues, larger groups, and even dog owners (provided they sit outside). The highlight in the kitchen is the wood oven. If you sit at the bar, you'll have a great view of the action as the cook slides sandwiches, chicken wings, and pizzas inside. Expect a variety of reds, whites, and sparkling wines in addition to a long list of craft beers. Diners can get especially good deals during happy hour.
Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale7133 East Stetson Drive, #4, Scottsdale
No more scenic road trips to the adorable city of Jerome (though we still kind of encourage that). Old Town Scottsdale has welcomed into its fold Merkin Vineyards — a wine bar owned by head winemaker Maynard James Keenan (yes, the dude from Tool who’s been making a splash in the Arizona wine world after spending years on The Edge radio station). The best part? Everything you see on the wine and vegetable-driven menu has been grown in-state.
Carlson Creek Vineyard Scottsdale Tasting Room4142 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale
Carlson Creek Winery is a family-owned vineyard set in Willcox wine country. Its Scottsdale tasting room is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. in the Scottsdale Arts District and offers opportunities to sample the wines for a $10 fee. You can also meet the winemakers and shop a little. Carlson Creek's varietals include chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, syrah, sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, malbec, rosé, mourvedre, and locally sourced chenin blanc and merlot.
LDV Winery Tasting Room7134 East Stetson Drive, Suite B-100, Scottsdale
Open daily near the Old Town Scottsdale waterfront, the little LDV Winery Tasting Room offers tastings of its 100 percent estate-grown wines from a Cochise County vineyard at a small fee. What's better, you can go for a glass or bottle of LDV wine right on the patio. In addition to the daily operations, the LDV Winery also hosts wine release parties in their tasting room, celebrating bottles such as The Signature — LDV’s recent estate-grown 2014 petite sirah, featuring rich blackberry flavors with hints of spice hints and toasty notes. There's also a small gift shop and (sometimes) small bites.
Sauvage Bottle Shop901 North First Street, #109
Our food critic and Italian food and drink savant Chris Malloy has a quick suggestion for wine. Check out Sauvage Bottle Shop in The Churchill. It offers offbeat producers and funky varietals, all with a minimal use of sulfites. You can drink your lambrusco inside Sauvage, or while mooning around the courtyards of The Churchill. The shop is open daily starting at noon.
Taste of Tops403 West University Drive, Tempe
Neighboring the well-known Tops Liquors in downtown Tempe, Taste of Tops is a majorly cozy bar and wine place known for its wine and craft beer selection. There's comfortable seating at the bar or couches, as well as a few tables. Although a narrow run of a place, Taste of Tops offers 20 by-the-glass wines, not to mention the massive Tops Liquor next door in case you're trying to bring a bottle home. You can also play a board game, order or bring in outside food, and enjoy one of the nightly movies playing on medium-size televisions.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on May 31, 2016. It was updated on January 21, 2020.