Wine Time

Houston's Top 10 Wine Bars

Today's Houston Press Deal of the Day (oh, you don't know what those are? sign up; they're seriously fantastic) is for 50 percent off at Boheme, a little wine bar in Montrose that also serves up cappuccinos and beer in a bar that's part zen garden, part Spanish cafe. When I lived down the street, it was one of my nightly hangouts -- especially because it has comfortable couches and free wi-fi.

But the deal got me thinking about wine bars I'd recommend to people who are truly connoisseurs of wine, not just those who are looking for a good bar to meet up at with friends or grab a beer and some solace.

No longer just a juke-joint city, Houston is home to a wide spread of wine bars to suit nearly every personality -- most of them run by serious aficionados -- and, even better, they're spread throughout the city. No Inner Loop bias here.

10. CHA

We named CHA as Houston's best wine bar last year, in part because it's the only wine bar in town to offer a greater emphasis on champagne and other sparkling wines -- wines that are becoming increasingly popular not just for special occasions, but for everyday drinking. And if bubbly isn't your bag, CHA also offers plenty of other wines and events, such as tonight's Bandol wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m.

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9. Block 7 Wine Company

This wine bar has a smart business model, selling its wines at retail "next door" and allowing buyers to drink them on the premises with their meal. The bloom is off the rose a bit now that it's been open for a while and people have discovered how excessively noisy it can be with a full dining room, however. My advice: Enjoy your wine on the small patio outside.

8. Absolve Wine Lounge

What this wine bar lacks in detailed, in-depth wine knowledge, it more than makes up for in ambiance. Drinking here is like being invited into someone's elegantly appointed private library and art collection, something you'd never expect from its simple strip mall exterior.

7. Vine Wine Room

Since 2005, Joe Rippey has transformed a little corner space off Benignus and Memorial into one of the area's most popular hangouts thanks to his vivacious personality and his equally expressive wines. The unique selection is always hand-chosen and fits well within the quirky yet old-world vibe of the small space. Rippey is also a co-owner of neighboring Two Saints, so you can make a damn fine evening out of this little corner of Memorial.

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Katharine Shilcutt