The Best Wine Bars in Toronto
The best wine bars in Toronto are, increasingly, living up to their name. For so many years, this city was short on places that made good on this designation. For the record, a wine bar should be 1) a bar and 2) the type of place that focuses its energy on offering an interesting selection of by-the-glass options. While Toronto has generally had a good supply of establishments that covered the latter of these two criteria, it's only in the last couple years that we've seen the rise of wine-first watering holes.
All of this sounds rather nit-picky, of course. Why get so caught up in names? Well, really, because it's nice to have places to drink wine that aren't stuck up and snobby. Wine is booze, too! So having the option to indulge in some interesting stuff without the pressure to order an expensive meal is just a good thing for us pretentious types without the wallets to support our egos. As for the places on this list that are still food-focused, well, you're nice too. But it's about time that the city had a bit of both. And now we do.
Here are the best wine bars in Toronto.
A deserving winner of the top stop, in the year that Midfield has been open, it's proven itself the city's most authentic wine bar with a constant rotation of interesting wines and an inclusive philosophy that pleases both seasoned oenophiles and those who've just taken an interest in the nature of their grape juice. The dark, wood-heavy room is appropriately warm, anything but fussy, and thus an ideal environment to throw a few back. A new tapas-style menu has opened up pairing possibilities without turning the place into a restaurant. Well done. More »
A Financial District staple, Reds underwent a major overhaul last year and has come out as a more relaxed place for an after work drink. The new interior is less formal with plenty of wood and not a white tablecloth in sight. Chef Ryan Gallagher has crafted a more rustic menu than what was on offer before, which pairs up well with the new vibe. What has stayed the same? Well, the wine. With 77 wines available by the glass, Reds remains one of the best places to discover new varietals and regions. More »
Skin + Bones opened up late last year in Leslieville, quickly becoming one of the best east side destinations for wine drinkers. The cavernous space is the very antithesis of cluttered, and while there's a strong focus on food, it's still very much a place where one can feel comfortable having a few glasses without the need to have a full meal. It's not the longest list out there, but each of the 40 some odd wines on offer are available by the glass. More »
A new addition to Dundas West, Archive gets the true ethos of the wine bar - there's no need for anything more than small plates of food if you're not trying to be a restaurant. The wine list sets itself apart by focusing on Ontario offerings (though not exclusively), the vast majority of which you won't see in the LCBO (try the stuff from 13th Street - delicious). A mostly quiet place to bring a date during the early part of the week, the action picks up with DJs and a more lively crowd on the weekends. More »
Crush is more of a restaurant than a wine bar, but boy do they ever offer one hell of a selection of wine. As such, you'll still see plenty of people who work around King West flocking to the long bar after work to try out any one of the over 70 by-the-glass options. The food menu isn't exactly adventurous, but you'll find that it's expertly prepared and that staff are well trained to offer pairing suggestions. More »
There's almost a speakeasy type vibe going on at Swirl, what with it's second floor location and decor that makes you feel like you're in someone's (nice) apartment rather than a place of business. As for the wine list, it's on the short side (at least as far as the by-the-glass options go) but well chosen. Food offerings consist of pickled items and charcuterie, but that's the way it should be. More »
Formerly Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar, the rebranded version sticks to a number of principles espoused by the old tenant. The menu of small plates leans heavily on local ingredients and is designed to offer plenty of pairing options. Wine-wise, the roughly 25 bottle list makes everything available by the glass and features plenty of options that won't break the bank. More »
Mavrik is the place to go if you're into trying flights of wine, which is a great way to learn about a particular region or varietal. Although it's not open particularly late, it still functions more like a bar than restaurant with a menu of charcuterie and small plates to bolster the wine list. As for that list, it shows a mix of Old World and local (i.e. Ontario) offerings, with plenty of glasses to choose from in the $8-10 range. More »
This small Riverside outpost offers well priced food to go along with a relatively safe wine list. The low-lit room brings out locals who snack on charcuterie boards and other small items (though there are mains as well). While you'll find some easily available selections on the wine list (Guigal Cotes du Rhone, I'm looking at you), there's also a few hidden gems tucked away as well. More »