This Valentine’s Day, Love the Wine You’re With at These Casual-Cool Bars
NOT FEELING LIKE making dinner reservations for an ostentatious evening out this Valentine’s Day? Enter wine bars: Wine-centric spots are more casual, less crowded, and offer a perk of spontaneity. We’ve uncorked some of the best new wine bars and older faves — along with pro tips to elevate your experience. Less pressure, more wine!
Stella's Wine Bar
Stella’sWine BarThe new bar tucked inside The Post Oak Hotel boasts major wine cred. Although luxurious, the mood is casual and welcoming with “zero wine-snob attitude,” promises advanced sommelier and manager Julie Dalton, Houston’s 2018 Iron Sommelier and former wine director of Mastro’s Steakhouse. What makes Stella’s unique? No other wine bar in Texas has access to a Grand Award-Winning Wine List by Wine Spectator. With 77 wines by the glass and 4,000 options by the bottle, Stella’s has the world of wine at its fingertips.
Back to your amorous evening. According to Dalton, “wine in general has a romantic feel – you can turn any selection into a perfect date.” She goes on to say that for a Valentine’s date, “nothing is as sexy as Champagne, which is a natural with raw oysters, a known aphrodisiac.”
Dish to share: Stella’s truffle-parmesan fries with Champagne. “Truffles have a seductive aroma — earthy, raw and fragrant, which goes straight to the animal center of the brain. Here’s a stellar pairing of contrasts: the salty Parmesan and crunch of the fries plays against the fruitiness and bubbles of Champagne, which invites every tastebud to the party,” shares Dalton.
Romantic sip: The flight options create a chance to play. “Exploring a new wine region or wine you’ve never heard of is approaching unchartered territory and learning something new together. That’s what’s cool about our three-glass flights. Don’t prefer your pick? It’s just 2 ounces — you’re not buying a whole bottle.”
ClarkwoodIntimate and softly lit Clarkwood, owned by Houston couple Mason Clark and Army Sadeghi, has quickly become the lounge for the chic set who socialize until the wee hours of the night. The vintage backdrop in a 1930-built Spanish-Mediterranean-style building with creamy white interiors and twinkling candles works just as beautifully for a wine-fueled rendezvous. “The space feels so transportive — reminding us of favorite Mexican getaways like San Miguel Allende,” says Clark. A sophisticated, yet simple, cocktail menu and carefully selected wine options can be paired with locally sourced charcuterie and cheese board options (coming soon!).
Seductive sips: “A French brut rosé is perfect for Valentine’s Day, Spanish Rosado is great for a before or after drink, and we also serve a very dry and approachable Spanish Gran Reserva Nature brut,” says Mason.
Best seat: Love seats in the center of the halo shaped bar, or high tops along the windows.
Tribute Wine Room
TRIBUTE Wine RoomLove is in the air at The Houstonian, and the public is invited! Its coveted Wine Room may be one of Houston’s best kept secrets for a tete-a-tete (2-4 guests). Dine under the waterfall of wine bottles in the cellar — there are take-home cashmere pashminas for the ladies.
What’s happening: Optionally, reserve at Tribute for Tex-Lex fare such as wood-fired gulf oysters, bacon-wrapped Bandera quail, wild salmon grenobloise, Painted Hills ribeye, and decadent Valentine's s'mores cake for two. For reservations, call 713.685.6713.
Postino Wine CafeKnown for a generous happy hour, Postino is always an upbeat stop for super-charged charcuterie boards and bruschetta stacked with everything under the sun. Each location features a bespoke art piece; at the newest outpost in Uptown Park, co-founder Lauren Bailey’s team have created a 250-square-foot art wall made of vintage luggage.
Good to know: Open for lunch, dinner and brunch, and all locations have patios. Galentines welcome!
Pur Noire Tasting RoomThis urban tasting room just opened on Milam Street in Downtown by founders Carissa and Kenneth Stephens. Pop in for various tastings of the couple’s own wine brand crafted from select vineyards in California.
What’s happening: Although the tasting room does not have a restaurant, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it has launched a series of fun pairing events starting Feb. 11 with a chocolate and wine tasting.
Mutiny Wine Room
Mutiny Wine RoomYou know that a wine bar will be exceptional when the proprietors own a Napa wine label. Emily Trout and Mark Ellenberger have brought the authentic Napa Valley vibe to the Heights in a breezy and contemporary space with soaring beamed ceilings, multiple seating options and two patios. Expect a diverse 60- bottle wine list focusing on small batch wines that historically are not sold in Texas. The full-service menu developed by chef Eduardo Alcayaga is wine country-inspired with decadent starters, entrees and desserts.
Best seat: Lounge chairs in the Tasting Room Conservatory.
Dish to share: Luscious phyllo-wrapped Green Hill DL cream-cheese wheel and Seckel pear with Riesling compote. Optionally, choose the Valentine’s Day dinner, three courses (entrée choice of grilled local flat iron steak or sole in citrus and rosé wine cream sauce) paired with wines Feb. 11, 12 and 13 ($90).
CRU Food & Wine BarCozy Cru has Houston locations in Upper Kirby and The Woodlands. Always popular for special wine dinners, its Wine, Dine & Be Mine experience is a four-course feast starting with rich lobster bisque on Feb. 14 ($60).
Good to know: Special Chef's Valentine's features will be offered on February 11and 12. Rather be spontaneous? The bar offers 13 flights of wine and 45 by-the-glass, along with stone-fired pizzas and more.
SavoirLed by chef Eric Johnson, the seasonal European-style menu at this serene Heights charmer is worth revisiting if romance is on the menu. Recent standouts have included the pork chop with cranberry and mustard beurre blanc and the creamy porcini rigatoni.
Good to know: Find Savoir’s still-new speakeasy cocktail bar, SiP (Shelter in Place), through the coveted wine cellar, which sports private booths with curtains!
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