Oenophiles looking for a spot to sit back and sip vino have plenty of options outside of the Perimeter. From casual cafes where you can enjoy a crisp white with your lunch to romantic restaurants ideal for cozying up with someone special, there’s a wine bar to suit every wine drinker’s palate. Raise your glass and toast these four standouts where you can swirl, sniff and savor wine all summer long.
CRÚ Food & Wine Bar
Located in the center of action-packed Avalon in Alpharetta, CRÚ Food & Wine Bar beckons passersby to come in with its inviting rooftop deck and patio seating for lounging and people watching. An ideal happy hour spot, CRÚ serves more than 350 wines. Try its wine flights that offer a taste of three wines grouped by varietal, region or style, like the popular Sexy Reds flight featuring bold, voluptuous reds.
Also check out the Taste & Share portion of the menu with tasty samplings like goat cheese beignets topped with honey and cracked pepper or an ahi tartare packed with freshness and vibrancy thanks to cucumber, avocado and cilantro. The cheese flights make a great accompaniment to nibble on while wine tasting. If drinking all that vino amps up your appetite even more, a selection of stone-fired pizzas and entrees are also available. CRÚ Food & Wine Bar, Avalon, 300 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-248-5181, cruwinebar.com.
Part wine bar and part Italian cafe, Locanda Firenze is a cozy shop in Smyrna Market Village where you can order everything from coffee, pastries and gelato to an avocado grilled cheese or a plentiful meat and cheese board perfect for sharing. Meet up with some friends for lunch or an afternoon snack and indulge in a decadent nutella and banana croissant, washed down with one of Locanda’s Italian wines. Locanda Firenze, 1260 W. Spring St. SE, Smyrna. 678-424-8000, locandafirenze.com.
Stem Wine Bar
If you’re looking for a classic wine bar experience, Stem Wine Bar in Marietta pours it within a casual ambience equally suited for grabbing drinks with girlfriends or knocking back a bottle of red with your better half. Located next door to Seed Kitchen & Bar and a sister restaurant to Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar (that the AJC recently awarded 3 of 4 stars), Stem was inspired by wine bars, tapas bars and eateries of Spain, Italy, France, New York and San Francisco. It boasts a menu of European-style small plates, local charcuterie, artisanal cheese and house-made desserts. Its wine menu also reflects those regions, focused on Italy, Spain, France and the U.S.
Wine and food pairing is big at Stem (they suggest a wine for each menu item), and they offer wines by the glass and bottle, as well as several wine flights with cheeky names like “Chardonnay 3 way” that lets you sample a trio of chards from California and France, or the “Take a cab…ernet” flight offering a sensuous tasting of reds. You can even try high-end varietals by the glass dispensed from Stem’s Enomatic wine system. Stem Wine Bar, 1311 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta. 678-214-6888, stemwinebar.com.
Wine shouldn’t be fussy or complicated—at least that’s the premise behind Vin25 in Roswell, an intimate neighborhood wine bar that takes pride in its approachable menu. Located on a side street in historic Roswell, Vin25 is tucked away from the bustling and often overly busy main drag, which makes its stone patio a peaceful oasis to enjoy a great glass of vino al fresco. Inside, the restaurant offers date-night vibes with dim lighting and a cozy ambience. Tables are packed relatively close together, but no one seems to mind because the focus here is on good food, wine, friends and family.
The impressive wine list spans the globe, covering the power players of Italy, Spain and France, as well as South Africa, Australia, Argentina and, of course, the United States. Commit to a bottle or half-bottle, or sample a few varietals with a by-the-glass order. Selections for the latter run the gamut from crisp pinot grigio to an earthy cab franc to a bright brut rose and everything in between. Snacks (we recommend the rich and flavorful pimento cheese fritters), a few small plates and several entrees (the sea scallops and sweet pea risotto is a trusty standby) round out the modest but delectable savory offerings. Save room for dessert—we especially love the peanut butter and chocolate cup garnished with sea salt. And if your sweet tooth is really strong, order the chef’s choice dessert sampler. Vin25, 25 Plum Tree St., Roswell. 770-628-0411, vin25.com.