My drink of choice is usually a nice glass or three of Cabernet or Merlot. But you’d be surprised how many classic bars seem to lack this staff of life. Oh sure, with the craft beer trend off the charts, even the diviest of watering holes will have a new selection of ales and IPAs and, of course, every conceivable form of hard booze. But in other establishments? You’re lucky if you can find even the house red, deep in the catacombs of the storage room.
Which is where the concept of the wine bar takes hold.
Ybor City Wine Bar is located in the heart of Centro Ybor, sandwiched next to Carne ChopHouse and the Jimmy John’s outlet. It opened right before Christmas in 2012 and offers more than 200 wine selections as well as sit-down formal wine tastings that can be scheduled for any day of the week for groups of four or more. 1600 E. Eighth Ave. #102, Tampa, 813-999-4966.
Bianchi’s Enoteca is located in a nondescript location on MacDill Avenue in South Tampa. It’s an intimate, classy place where the staff will do what they can to satiate your palate. And they offer up some tasty charcuterie platters. 3215 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-837-2233, bianchisenoteca.com.
Wine Madonna is located next door to St. Petersburg’s Ale and The Witch craft beer bar. This cozy spot offers an incredible variety of wines, and the staff is extremely helpful to those just learning the vino ropes. Take your glass to the outdoor courtyard where live music is often playing. 111 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, 727-289-7257, winemadonna.com.—Arielle Stevenson
First Flight at Tampa International Airport is a great excuse to go to the airport, even if you’re not flying. Mise en Place’s airside wine bar offers wine by the touch of a button (does it get any better?) in one, 2.5, and five-ounce pours. CL food critic Jon Palmer Claridge gave First Flight four stars for its wine selection and delicious charcuterie. 4100 George J. Bean Inbound Parkway, Tampa, 813-396-3977, miseonline.com.—AS
A Taste for Wine, the Best of the Bay-winning haven for wine lovers perched above Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete, is the perfect spot to escape the bustling throngs. Sit on the balcony, enjoy a glass or two from the carefully curated wine list, and pretend you're in New Orleans. 241 Central Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-895-1623, facebook.com/tasteforwine. —David Warner
Cru Cellars in South Tampa houses an amazing wine collection, by the glass and bottle. Enjoy small plates from the Cru Kitchen, grab a seat in the outdoor garden area, and order a bottle during dinner or buy one for the road. 2506 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-831-1117, crucellarstampa.com.—AS