Milwaukee's wine bar guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Nov. 7, 2009 at 11:03 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
There's no arguing that Milwaukee is a beer town. But we're becoming more and more friendly with the grape and especially the vinified grape.
That means going to a bar no longer means choosing between pilsner or stout, and it's not even a choice of Merlot vs. Cabernet anymore, either, thanks to these innovative and adventurous wine-focused bars and restaurants.
925 E. Wells St., (414) 765-1166
More restaurant than bar, Bacchus -- in the elegant setting of Cudahy Tower -- has a lovely bar separate from the dining room and most of the time you can enjoy the restaurant's astonishing wine list in the glass-enclosed solarium, too.
1716 N. Arlington Pl., (414) 755-0099
You'd think that a vast, five-page wine list offering everything from a $6 glass of Caves de Pomerol Picpoul de Pinet (described on the list as the Muscadet of south France) to a $400 bottle of Australian Henschke "Hill of Grace" (described as arguably the rarest and best wine on Earth) would be presented on something other than three sheets of stapled paper.
But, more importantly, the wines are served in stemless Riedel crystal, an indication that someone in the joint knows how to treat wine, and the menu offers low-priced "tastes" in case you can't make up your mind between the Hungarian Oremus Tokaji Furmint and French Mas Neuf.
The Cheese Bar
1048 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 272-3544
The Wisconsin Cheese Mart opened The Cheese Bar in 2009 to help Milwaukeeans satisfy that most savory of food and drink combinations, Wisconsin cheese and fine wines. The Cheese Bar indulges in the art of pairing more than 140 local cheeses with wine and local beers in an old-world style.
177 N. Broadway, (414) 225-9800
Cuvee has a full bar, although the main menu's focus is on bubbly. The lengthy list of champagne cocktails -- essentially a fruity martini list, substituting champagne for flavored vodkas -- ranges from the classic mimosa ($6), champagne and orange juice, to rarities such as the Bouzy $10 (named for a village in Champagne), which features dry gin, triple sec and champagne. Regular wine -- what Cuvee calls "still wine" -- is available, too.
Dream Dance Steak
1712 W. Canal St., (414) 847-7883
Like Bacchus, Dream Dance -- in the Potawatomi Bingo Casino -- is an upscale restaurant, but has a separate bar area where you can enjoy anything off an amazing wine list.
Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub
222 E. Erie St., (414) 727-9300
With a great lounge in back and self-brewed beer on tap, Hinterland is full of more than a few hidden gems. And those include their wine list. A daily changing wine list offers reds, whites, sparklings and ports, all with a focus great rareties and classic vineyards. But the icing on the cake is Hinterland's great red wine pour. Belly up to the bar for a hefty eight ounce pour of one of "Dave's Picks" or your favorite regional wine.
708 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 390-9463
Opened in 2008 as restaurateur Marc Bianchini's newest experience, Indulge is a sleek and stylish urban wine room, with a focus on design, fine foods, and more than 300 different wines, 60 available by the glass. It also features artisan cheeses, decadent chocolates, hand-made truffles and charcuterie such as prosciutto and pates.
330 E. Menomonee St., (414) 224-4900
Brand new to the Third Ward in 2009, Javino pairs the best of coffee with the best of wine. Completely smoke-free, stop in to chat with co-owners and wine ethusiasts Lee Barczak and Jane Schilz about their latest wine picks.
125 E. National Ave., (414) 389-0125
In addition to international cuisine in a small-plate / tapas format, this Walker's Point gem has an extensive wine list with reds from Australia, Italy, Argentina, France, South Africa and beyond and whites from Tasmania, Sardinia, California, New Zealand and elsewhere. Most are available by the glass.
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Note that there is also a Vino 100 at 219 E. Erie Street in the Third Ward, across from Hinterland.
Libiamo's is terrific. The food is tasty, and the service is excellent, and the atmosphere is the best I have seen in Milwaukee. A true hidden gem that everyone should check out!
Fleming's Steak House and Wine Bar in Brookfield serves 100 wines by the glass and has 100 reserve wines with quite a few hard to find boutique wines and 1st growth Bordeaux. They also have their 5 for 6 until 7 happy hour with 5 selections of cocktails, wine and appetizers for $6 from 5-7pm.
RJ, Thief Wine is smoke-free. Cheers, Phil
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