Be honest: do you keep going to the same places and ordering the same thing? Are you stuck in a chardonnay or pinot noir groove?
It’s time to commit to breaking out from that deliciously familiar rut this month and try something new. I’ve picked seven spots which have amazing by-the-glass wine programs so you don’t have to risk buying a whole bottle (they also have plenty of delicious things to eat too, but you knew I wouldn't send you anywhere else, right?).
We talked to the experts at each of these spots to find out more about what they're pouring...
1. Kovic Prevost, Is That French WinebarInstagram/Is That French Winebar
Tell us about your place: Is That French Winebar is a low-intervention wine and shared-dishes bar celebrating the terroir of the Pacific Northwest. We focus on sustainable wines and products found around B.C. We are open Thursday to Monday from 5 p.m. to late.
What’s the ethos behind the wines you offer? We love to support and grow along with small producers who share the same philosophy. We are terroir-driven—from the soil to the glass and all the way to the people. We drink the story first, then share it with our guests.
How many by-the-glass options do you have? We update the list every week to keep it fun and exciting—usually two sparkling, four whites, three skin-contact wines, two rosé and four reds.
What are you super-excited about pouring right now? Everything! I'm excited about all the wines I have. They are all so different and can be enjoyed for different reasons—from fresh and crushable to food pairing and funky.
2. Brittany Hoorne, Bar SuSuNikki Bayley
Tell us about your place: Bar Susu is a natural wine bar focused on delivering good times. We offer stunning food, sassy cocktails and an extensive—yet thoughtful—list of amari and vermouth. We open every day of the week at 5 p.m. If you didn’t snag a reso, don't hesitate to swing by, we keep some seats available for those (like me) who prefer not to plan too far ahead.
What’s the ethos behind the wines you offer? Farming first. When sourcing wines, I focus on producers who strive for biodiversity within the vineyard and less intervention in the cellar—so minimal pesticides, fungicides, preservatives, etc. I highlight all that is weird and wonderful, and love to share the stories of these bad-ass producers with anyone who takes the time to listen. Unusual grapes, regions, practices—I am all for it!
How many by-the-glass options do you have? We feature no less than six wines by the glass a night, alongside a few sakes and a cider or two. If you ask nicely, I might just open up that bottle that you’ve had your eye on. We operate an incredibly dynamic program here—there are usually a few things open off-list—just ask what we’re most excited about and we will deliver.
What are you super-excited about pouring right now? I’ve been sitting on a couple cases of Les Capriades’ NV La Bulle Rouge and I’m nearly ready to take it out of the cellar. It’s a stunning sparkling red wine from the Loire produced by Pascal Potaire and Moses Gadouche, who are known within France as “The Kings of Pet-Nat”. It will go quickly, so sip some while you can.
3. Peter Van de Reep, Bar GoboHakan Burcuoglu
Tell us about your place: Bar Gobo is a cozy, intimate wine bar in Vancouver’s historic Strathcona neighbourhood, serving an ever-changing dinner menu inspired by the bounty of B.C.’s best farmers and fishers paired with compelling, terroir-focused wines from across the globe. We are open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.
What’s the ethos behind the wines that you offer? The wines I look for are wines that represent a snapshot of what wine can be from a specific place and time. Often this means a sustainable approach to viticulture, low-intervention wine-making and sometimes grapes that very few people have ever heard of before. The word "natural" gets thrown around a fair bit, but that term doesn't really have a definition when it comes to wine—so we try to vet what we're pouring. I love old-school traditionalist wineries but supporting the brand new, young innovative producers shaking things up in their areas is important too.
How many by-the-glass options do you have? I had to count! We offer between 24 and 30 wines by the glass.
What are you super-excited about pouring right now? I'm super-excited about wines from Kutatas on Salt Spring Island—fantastic Pinot Noir and fun, crisp aromatic whites that pair super well with food. I'm almost through my allocation of Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli from Georgia, but it's been really fun to introduce these ultra-old-school amber wines from a very far-flung part of the world. I hope we'll see more of these wines here. I'll also be getting an allocation of Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Rioja Riserva, one of the greatest classic red wines of Spain and the standard bearer for old school Rioja. It will be really fun to introduce those wines to our guests. It might not make it by the glass, but if not, I'll have some of their Cubillo which is a little more affordable.
4. Matthew Morgenstern, Bacaro
Tell us about your place: Bacaro is inspired by Northern Italian cuisine, particularly the region of Veneto. The wine list reflects this with a great majority of the wines being from Veneto and Peidmont. We also include wines that get us excited from other regions of Italy and British Columbia.
What’s the ethos behind the wines that you offer? We look for lively and expressive wines that reflect the passion and personalities of the people who make them. They are indicative of their terroir and respectful of the land they are grown on.
How many by-the-glass options do you have? There are around 20 constantly rotating wines by the glass.
What are you super-excited about pouring right now? The Angelo Negro Arneis is the perfect end-of-summer sipper. A tart unfiltered white wine from Piedmont filled with flavours of grapefruit, peach and lychee.
5. Kelcie Jones, ElephantMay Yi Then
Tell us about your place: Elephant is a tiny 18-seat restaurant and wine bar in East Vancouver serving a unique omakase experience, which changes daily to reflect the seasonality and fecundity of our local farms. We are open Friday to Monday, offering omakase and a small à-la carte menu at the dinner hour, plus snacks and wine late into the evening.
What’s the ethos behind the wines that you offer? The wine program is founded on producers who farm with minimal intervention in the vineyards and with an eye towards regenerative farming. Secondly, we are always searching for wines that suit the bright and acid-driven flavours of our food.
How many by-the-glass options do you have? By-the-glass options are rotating and depend on when you come in. There is no set list but you can usually find 10 different options.
What are you super-excited about pouring right now? Right now we are loving wines from Alta Allea in Pendes. The zesty nature of the native cava grapes paired with a delicate floral aromatic structure suit lighter dishes and salads.
6. Miki Ellis, Dachi
Tell us about your place: Dachi is our sweet little restaurant bar in Hastings-Sunrise. We are a neighbourhood spot focusing on supporting local, organic, family-owned farms and producers. Our food and beverage program changes daily, inspired by what's seasonal and the things we like. Expect some fun wines, funky ciders, tasty sake, craft beer and cocktails, too. The food is fresh and familiar, in mostly smaller sizes meant for sharing, because it's nice to try lots of flavours.
What’s the ethos behind the wines that you offer? Our wine/sake/cider program is about focussing on family owned/independent producers, normally smaller businesses (like ours) who care about regenerative farming and sustainable practices. It's exciting to be bringing in 10 to 20 new things every week because we love to learn and taste new bottles and keep it fresh for the folks coming in all the time.
How many by-the-glass options do you have? The by-the-glass program is always rotating. We open what we're excited about, what's new, or something a guest wants to try—and when that bottle is done, we move on to the next. There isn't a written list anywhere, and because we often work with obscure grapes or unusual bottles, it's nice to have it be more of a conversation with our guests. It feels more personalized and provides an opportunity to try something you may have stayed away from before. On any given night, we will be opening 15 to 20 bottles to pour by the glass.
What are you super-excited about pouring right now? We are loving the collaboration wine we made with Scout Vineyards. It's a skin-contact riesling-muscat that is so perfect in the summer, and they're doing exciting things in the Similkameen—we want to share their story. We are also on our last case of Kozaemon's Sakura, a seasonal unpasteurized sake that is unlike any sake most people have tried. It's incredibly fresh and pairs so well with many of our dishes—there is always an isshobin (1.8L) open.
7. Louisa Cohen, A Happy Wine Night
Tell me a little about your place: A Happy Wine Night offers monthly tasting events—guests come and taste low-intervention wine from around the world in a gorgeous space with a relaxed vibe. We offer fun bites and we love to team up with cool food people around the city.
What’s the ethos behind the wines that you offer? The real driving force behind Get Happy is the love we have for connecting with people, and the stories behind these very cool bottles of wine—this was a pandemic start-up purely based on our need for human connection (and yummy wine).
How many different by-the-glass options do you usually offer? Typically a tasting includes nine wines—sometimes a sip of sake or cider as well. We also offer by-the-glass or by-the-bottle options.
What are you super-excited about pouring right now? We are getting to know some really exciting wines from Chile, I am really enjoying wines from Pino Román at the moment; they are easy drinking but have a really exciting complexity to them. No boring sips!