It’s a good time to be thirsty in Palm Beach County. A string of wine bars has opened in the last few years, and many feature a multitude of choices paired with knowledgeable personnel. Here are some of the best.
The Blind Monk | West Palm Beach
Downtown West Palm was far less developed when Ben Lubin opened The Blind Monk in 2010 (561-833-3605). Since then, the hip outpost has evolved, moving away from the standard Cabernet and Pinot Noir and toward lesser-known varieties such as Kerner, Torrontes, Carignan, and Bonarda. “We’re the furthest from wine snobs you’re going to find,” says general manager Jason Hunt, who is a certified cicerone, or beer sommelier, which accounts for the 30 exotic craft brews on the menu. The dozen wine-friendly tapas include cheeses and charcuteries sourced from top U.S. and international producers. The wine list veers away from expensive bottles in favor of a focused selection. “It’s not a museum list,” Lubin says, “but wines that we can train the staff on and actually sell.”
Photo by Chelsea Anne Sahlman
Wine Scene | West Palm Beach
Opened in March 2015 by entrepreneur Tony Solo, the Wine Scene (561-632-4906) 50-seat wine bar is part of a larger entertainment complex that includes an art gallery and an outdoor space featuring the work of South Florida’s top graffiti artists. The wine bar itself has 50 selections by the glass, chosen by Solo in collaboration with veteran sommelier Jeremiah Bennett. The terrace beer garden doubles as an event space that can accommodate as many as 300 people, and Solo envisions the complex as groundwork for a larger culinary concept to be called Eat Scene. “It’s the perfect venue for events,” he says. “It’s far more personalized than a hotel ballroom, and there’s nothing else like it in South Florida.”
Vault 39 Wine Cellar | Palm Beach Gardens
Photo by Kelly Jo Schmidt
Ever fantasize about trying wines like Vega Sicilia, Chateau Petrus, or Screaming Eagle but don’t want to spend hundreds (or thousands) for a bottle? Vault 39 (561-904-6567) features 19 machines from Napa Technology that preserve 76 wines under inert gas and dispense 1, 2.5, or 5 ounces of each. Even better, the cellar doubles as a store and uses retail markups, which are much cheaper than typical restaurant margins. “We’re trying to give customers the opportunity to drink wine they won’t find elsewhere,” says owner Danny Schmidt. Selections rotate frequently, but Schmidt maintains both Old and New World choices. Vault 39 also features high-quality tapas, including cheese sourced from Sid Wainer & Son in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Vino | Boca Raton
“We want to expose people to more than just Napa Cab,” says Vino partner Sabrina Skoch. “Once you’ve tried the great Old World wines, it’s hard to go back.” Vino (561-869-0030) encourages its clients to make that transition by offering an astonishing 250 wines by the glass. Prices start at $10 and escalate past $200, with the higher-end wines preserved in an Enomatic machine. The list is balanced between New and Old World but tilts heavily toward Italy to complement the rustic tapas menu. Tucked away on a side street near Mizner Park, the 40-seat space strives for a New York ambience that is both romantic and sexy.