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Whites and reds for your winter blues at Buffalo's wine bars

Wine makes you feel warmer.

Now, it doesn't actually make you warmer – contrary to what you might think after downing a few Labatt Blues at a Bills game or when dashing between bars in Allentown after a few margaritas – but it does make you feel that way because alcohol restricts blood vessels. This is also why your face might look flushed while drinking.

Regardless, wine bars pump up the heat twofold by cultivating a homey ambiance, whether achieved through live jazz music, highbrow interior design or simply tables dressed with candles and flowers.

Thaw out at one the city's wine bars in this guide. Choose accordingly based on your ideal experience or hop around to try a few.

Alchemy Wine and Beer

20 Union St., Hamburg

For those looking for: a large wine selection and fancy cheese plates. 

You might have heard about the new Hamburg wine bar from last summer's fence controversy. Long story short, the pizzeria next door put a fence up, partially covering a Chuck Tingley mural on Alchemy's exterior.

Inspired by a jazz bar they visited in Europe, the owners decided to bring a slice of Europe back home. Alchemy's backyard feels like one big party. Listen to jazz while putting a dent in a bottle of wine you bought there. You won't have to keep revisiting the bar.

And for those whose mouths water upon reading the words Gruyère fondue and French triple-cream brie, the food menu will please you.

[Read more about the mural-fence controversy: Wine-focused Alchemy offering Hamburg a glassful and an earful]

Visit Bacchus for dinner, wine, dessert, or all of the above. (John Hickey/News file photo)

Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant

56 W. Chippewa St.

For those looking for: a reliable glass of wine with dinner.

People know Chippewa as a nightlife hub, where dress codes and covers reign. But Bacchus is not only a classy pregame spot, but also a tried-and-true dinner and dessert destination. Before you switch to vodka sodas all night, revel in a glass of pinot from its large wine list. Dark, moody lighting and white tablecloths lend to its date-night ambiance.

Cabernet’s Wine Café

9 N. Ellicott St., Williamsville

For those looking for: a Cabernet lover's handpicked selection.

Owner Catherine Ann Bloom handpicks a selection of wine for guests at her café and you can always count on a Cabernet to be a part of her selection. Sip wine with friends in a homey setting without having to host at your own home.

Just Vino

846 Main St. 

For those looking for: an extensive wine list.

As the name suggests, Just Vino offers just wine. Just around 80 kinds of wine, that is. Its quaint, brick interior imitates an upper-class dining room. During the day, light pours in from large display windows. By nightfall, soft lighting falls over the bar as the clink of wine glasses and alcohol-induced chatter ring through the room.

Inside Mambrino King Wine Coffee and Chocolate Bar in East Aurora, the decor pays homage to the racehorse of the same name in the 1880s. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Mambrino King

720 Main St., East Aurora

For those looking for: wine and chocolate with a dash of history.

Mambrino King is an East Aurora legend. No, not the wine bar but the horse, Mambrino King, who died almost 120 years ago but lives on as an integral part of the town's history.

Drew and Anita Pfeiffer named their wine, coffee and chocolate bar after the famous racehorse. "People here still talk about the horse 120 years after he's gone," Anna Pfeiffer told The News' Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich last year.

The wine bar offers the type of foods you could want alongside a glass of wine: gourmet chocolates, warm brie, charcuterie, chocolate cake and ice cream. Designated drivers don't have to settle on a Diet Coke since there's a full espresso menu.

Mambrino King: the horse, the wine bar and the East Aurora legend

Parings Wine Bar

5893 Main St., Williamsville

For those looking for: a happy hour steal.

The selection of bottles at Parings Wine Bar is expansive, but from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays, the menu shortens during happy hour with attractive deals. On those evenings, a selection of about 10 wines – including reds, whites and some sparkling wines – cost $20 a bottle.

Share a bottle along with something from the typical wine bar food menu. Shareable small plates include light, healthy bruschetta, guacamole and hummus, as well as heartier mussels and four kinds of mac and cheese.

Seating in Pausa's music space fills up quickly, so arrive early to secure a table. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

PAUSA Art House

19 Wadsworth St.

For those looking for: some of the city's best live jazz.

Wine pairs well with live jazz and art. Buffalo Spree voted the bar/art gallery/jazz venue the "best bar for live music" last year in its Best of WNY awards. For drinks, you have your choice of at least 15 reds and whites, including a few reserve choices, plus craft beer.

To soak up the wine, order a Mediterranean small plate or panini, such as an olive and manchego platter. Or try a Debussy panini – turkey, housemade bruschetta and mozzarella heated between an Italian sub roll – and sing "Clair de Lune."

[Read more about the "art of listening" at PAUSA]


338 Ellicott St.

For those looking for: a lively rooftop bar.

A wine bar feels like a wine bar. Each boasts similar qualities: wine, stool seating, cheese platters and dim lighting.

Few also feature igloos.

For a pretty penny – though less when split between an entire friend group – drink outside in a Buffalo winter in the vessel that Eskimos swear by. Igloo bars are possibly one of the weirder international trends of the past couple of years. Likely born out of Instagram culture, the photogenic rooftop drinking hut has gone viral. However, it does make sense.

When rooftop drinking, you don't want to cover up the view with walls.

Artist Chuck Tingley incorporated a photograph from the original Lombardo spot, on the 700 block of Main Street, into a This Little Club mural. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The Little Club

1197 Hertel Ave.

For those looking for: a challenging assortment of wine you've never tried before.

Fine dining, meet fine drinking.

The Little Club seeks to challenge local wine drinkers with wine from less normative regions, Andrew Z. Galarneau reported shortly before the bar opened in November. Tommy Lombardo, owner of Ristorante Lombardo, a decades-old fine dining staple down the street, opened The Little Club to focus on wine. Here, food takes a backseat. If you might challenge yourself to try something weird at dinner, now try an unusual drink.

As for the space, resident wine bar artist Chuck Tingley strikes again. This time, his mural is inside the bar, out of reach from any possible visual barrier. Tingley's mural features a black-and-white photograph of diners at the original Lombardo, etched between a wallpaperlike pattern and graffiti. The effect looks like the bar stripped back several layers of wallpaper, then put some graffiti over it.

[Related: The Little Club, Lombardo wine bar on Hertel, sets opening]

Remedy House

429 Rhode Island St.

For those looking for: wine and coffee, or both.

By day, Remedy House is a hub for students and those with work-from-home jobs who visit with their laptops and books, nursing a dark roast. By night, the café turns into a romantic date spot. Tables clear of coffee and fill with Burgundy and honey-colored drinks.

Page-flipping and typing sounds turn into chatty banter and laughs. The wine menu is curated and largely European, with a local pinot grigio from Liten Buffel on the Niagara Wine Trail.

[Read more: Remedy House among new wave of Buffalo-area coffee shops]

Shango New Orleans Bistro & Wine Bar

3260 Main St.

For those looking for: shrimp and grits to soak up the wine.

Shango's wine list is the libation equivalent to the Cheesecake Factory's food menu. Choose from more than 100 bottles, ranging in price from $25 to $168, to accompany your New Orleans-style meal. If you're going to enjoy a whole bottle, order a plate of Creole bouillabaisse or shrimp and grits or a blackened catfish po'boy.

[Review: Tried and true dishes at Shango]

Wine on Hertel

1370 Hertel Ave. 

For those looking for: Affordable wines and tapas.

The House of Olives added a wine bar, Wine on Hertel, in 2015. Run by Justin Hofschneider, the wine bar offers recognizable styles such as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and riesling at affordable prices, complemented by a tapas menu that includes a popular charcuterie board.

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