Do you love wine? Are you wondering where to find Boston's best local wine and food tasting events, specialty wine stores featuring hand-produced, biodynamic, or organic wines, wine bars, and wine festivals?
Boston's historical affinity for beer - the favorite beverage of the Founding Fathers and Mothers back in the 1630s - plus our robust and growing craft brewery scene tend to overshadow the city's rich array of opportunities for wine enthusiasts to savor their favorite beverage.
But as local wine fans know, Boston's parallel love affair with wine means plenty of opportunites to savor your favorite varieties, delight your taste buds with new varieties and food pairings, and learn more about the art and science of winemaking as well as newly popular trends such as organic unfiltered wines.
Our guide to exploring our local wine culture in Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge starts highlights some of the area's outstanding offerings. We start with wine and food pairing events, and then move on to the best wine bars, restaurants specializing in wine-food pairings, more places for wine tasting, and shops featuring organic, natural, and biodynamic wines.
Top Photo: Glasses of wine for tasting; photo credit: iStockPhoto/Giovanni Magdalinos
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Best Wine & Food Pairing Events
Bonde Fine Wine Shop's Wine & Food Tastings
Located in the heart of Cambridge's Harvard Square, Bonde Fine Wine Shop specializes in high-quality (but affordable) eco-responsible wines hand-produced by small-production American wineries. If you want to expand your appreciation (as well as your palate) for what some of the country's most innovative wine makers can create, this is the place to come.
In addition to the curated wine selections, many of which you won't see anywhere else locally, what makes Bonde stand out in Boston's wine scene are the weekly wine tasting and food pairing events offered by the shop's owner, sommelier and restauranteur (Sel de la Terre, The Beehive, Beat Hotel) Bertil Jean-Chronberg. Not only do these events give you the chance to try some excellent food and wine chosen to complement each other, but they are highly educational.
Bonde offers two types of public small-group tasting experiences, each limited to 8 participants:
- Wednesday Evening "Chef's Table" Wine & Food Pairings - Bertil teams with some of the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area's top chefs from restaurants such as Celeste, Talulla, and Forage to create a unique 2-hour tasting experience where a flight of four wines is paired with four appetizer-sized food selections. As you savor each course with its accompanying wine, Bertil and the week's featured chef discuss five key qualities to consider for a successful pairing, as well as the particular flavors, textures, and other nuances in the wine and food that make the combinations work. Not only does the evening showcase fantastic wines that you'll want to drink again (you may find yourself buying a few bottles as you leave), but it's also a wonderful way to discover restaurants that you'll want to visit again. Each week's event has a theme, such as "Introduction to Biodynamic Wine," "Pairing Wine with Peruvian Cuisine," and "Pairing Wine & Pizza."
- Sunday Afternoon Wine & Food Tastings - In these more casual wine and food tasting 45-minute events, you get to sample a flight of four wines matched with light food. Bertil or another sommelier will be on hand to provide information about the wines and answer your questions.
If you love discovering innovative, excellent, and sometimes rule-breaking wine paired with delicious food and gaining new insights into why they enhance each other, these are affordable-not-miss events. Check Bonde's website for weekly event and reservation information. Tasting events are usually posted about one month in advance and tend to sell out quickly, although there is a wait-list for cancelations.
Essentials: Bonde Wine & Food Pairing Events
- Dates: Wednesday "Chef's Table" evenings and Sunday "Tasting" afternoons throughout the year; check Bonde's website for the weekly culinary/wine themes for the Wednesday night Chef's Table tastings and to make reservations for both events; private wine and food pairing events can also be arranged.
- Cost range: Affordable
- Location: 54 Church Street, Cambridge; 617-945-2360
Boston Wine Festival: Premier Boston Wine Tasting (& Savoring) Event
Over three decades ago, the Boston Harbor Hotel and Executive Chef Daniel Bruce launched the Boston Wine Festival, now the longest-running and most famous food and wine event in the United States. Chief Bruce retired a few years ago, but the festival continues on as strong as ever.
What is the festival about? During a 12-week period from late January through late March, the hotel's chef pairs some of the world's finest and most famous wines with his innovative cuisine for guests to enjoy while overlooking Boston's waterfront. Guests come from all over the world to experience the unique pairings, which change with every dinner.
If you love excellent wine paired with superb food, this is a must-not-miss splurge event. Check the hotel's website for the dinner schedule and reservation information - it usually gets posted in November.
Essentials: Boston Wine Festival
- Dates: Late January through late March with dinners, lunches, tastings, and seminars as well as a Visiting Chef Series each week; check the festival's website for exact dates, dinner themes, and reservations
- Cost range: Pricy, with some variation week to week
- Stay: Boston Harbor Hotel, the luxury waterfront hotel where this special event takes place (check for special Boston Wine Festival packages and discounts)
Boston Wine Tasting Bars
Boston offers a wealth of wine bars and other places where you can sample excellent and interesting vintages from wineries and vineyards from around the world.
Pair with food, and you have the makings of a very fine evening.
Sip Wine Bar
Select from around 20 wines on rotation. You can choose from 4 different pour sizes ranging from a 2-ounce sip to a bottle, and pair your choices with the menu's tapas, tacos, and dinner entrees. Check out other Theatre District restaurants offering food and wine pairings.
581 Washington Street, Theatre District; 617-956-0888
Bin 26 Enoteca
Come to this cozy Beacon Hill spot for the extensive wine list, and pair it with your choices from the innovative menu featuring contemporary Italian cuisine. Occasional wine-pairing dinners were offered pre-pandemic - so look for them to resume at some point.
26 Charles Street, Beacon Hill; 617-723-5939
The Butcher Shop
This neighborhood wine bar and restaurant created by famous Boston chef Barbara Lynch and wine director Cat Silirie is an excellent place to come for an entire meal with wine pairings, or just a glass or two of wine with a snack or small place.
Perhaps 10-12 choises are available by the glass or bottle, with another 30 or so available as a bottle only. At the moment, most selections come from France or California, with a few from Italy, Greece, Spain, and other locations - although the mix varies. Selections focus on small artisanal producers including many who both grow the grapes and make the wine.
552 Tremont Street, Boston's South End; 617-423-4800
Coffee bar by day, wine bar by night ... this sleek but comfortable space beckons you to stop by for a drink at any time during the day and night.
665 Washington Street, Theatre District/Chinatown; 857-233-4094
Barcelona Wine Bar
Extensive selection of almost 400 Spanish and South American wines, mostly from small producers - at least 40 by the glass. Plus Spanish tapas, cheese, charcuterie, and a few larger dishes to share, including several paellas. Don't miss the desserts.
3 Boston-Area Locations
- 525 Tremont St, South End; 617-266-2600
- 1688 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617-468-2200
- 1700 Beacon Street, Brookline: 617-264-8900
Piattini Wine Cafe
Appealing selection of Italian wines, organized on the menu so that even non-connoisseurs can make informed choices about what to order. As a bonus, each glass of wine comes with a small card with information about the region and tasting notes. Also a nice selection of small (and regular sized) plates of tasty Italian-influenced fare. Budget-friendly prices for both the wine and food.
26 Newbury Street, Back Bay; 617-536-2020
Troquet on South
French bistro. Owner/Sommelier Chris Campbell directs the wine pairings, and Chef Devon Henry prepares the delicious food. Many consider this Boston's best wine-pairings. Come here to enjoy some of the top vintages in the city, with many available by the glass.
107 South Street, near South Station; 617-695-9463; website
Bistro du Midi
Another Boston restaurant renowned for its Bordeaux and Burgundy-rich 1,000+ bottle wine cellar and wine pairings with French-inspired cuisine - casual downstairs on the bar-bistro level, and upstairs for more serious splurge-worthy dining. You'll find about 20-25 carefully selected choices available by the glass.
272 Boylston Street, Back Bay; 617-426-7878
Now Pouring Wine Bar
Located at Hub Hall next to TD Garden and North Station. Look for a rotating list of reds, whites, roses, and bubbly from around the world. Also serves draft cocktails, beer, and cider.
Hub Hall, 80 Causeway, West End neighborhood
Fun Boston Wine Tours
Wine tours give you a fantastic way to combine good wine, good food, and exploring a Boston neighborhood as part of a small group of usually no more than six people. Whether you're a Boston local or a visitor to the city, it's a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Unfortunately, they have yet to re-start after the pandemic - but stay tuned!
Boston Wine Bars Specializing in Natural, Organic, and Biodynamic Wines
Natural, organic, and biodynamic wines (meaning no preservatives, no chemicals, minimal or no non-naturally occuring sulphites added or used during production; natural wines may or may not be made with grapes grown organically or biodynamically) bring exciting new tastes, textures, and experiences that are turning the conventional 21st century concept of wines upside down.
Although many of these wines don't differ radically in taste, texture, or appearance from conventional wines, others do as winemakers test the boundaries of "what is wine?" From unusual colors like orange "white" wines to frankly weird flavors (try to imagine the essence of real but slightly to mouth-puckering sour fruit, or earthy mushroom tones, or unexpectedly carbonated effects) to obviously unfiltered (ie, cloudy) liquids, these are probably not the wines you grew up with but although they're not to everyone's taste, their fan base is growing.
Whether you're already an enthusiast and want to try more or just hope explore and see where the flavors lead you, Boston has some fantastic wine bars and at least one fully-committed wine shop where you can sample them, savor them, and maybe rethink the whole concept of wine.
Haley.Henry Wine Bar
Charming casual spot featuring a revolving selection of small batch naturally-made small production organic and biodynamic wines (and a few beer selections), tinned seafood, ceviche, crudo, charcuterie, and cheese. Commit to two glasses (roughly half a bottle), and the Haley.Henry staff will open any bottle for you.
45 Province St, Downtown Crossing; haleyhenry.com
Just wine, simple snacks (olives, cheese from Formaggio, potato chips from Spain), and as Rebel Rebel promises, "rad music" and "rad people" in this tiny bar in Bow Market with seating for about 20 inside and another 20 outside. The focus in on natural wine. One of the best spots in Boston to try something you'll find unexpected, intriguing, and sometimes totally fantastic. The wine list changes all the time.
1 Bow Market Way, Somerville; www.rebelrebelsomerville.com
Offering ticketed tasting menu dinners where some of Boston's most highly acclaimed food is served up in a tiny space inside Aeronaut Brewery, Tasting Counter pairs its cuisine with natural and low-intervention wines, which they define as meaning wines produced from grapes farmed organically or biodynamically, hand harvested, fermented with wild yeast, and with no chemical additives.
14 Tyler Street, Somerville; tastingcounter.com
Nathálie, a wine bar by Haley Fortier (of haley.henry wine bar) located near Time Out Market in Fenway is attracting a growing number of fans, both local and beyond, with its focus on small production, natural, and female-produced wines from around the world. Tasty assortment of small plates. Same 2 glass/half bottle policy as Haley.Henry.
186 Brookline Ave, Fenway neighborhood; nathaliebar.com
Wine Tasting Events in Boston
The Wine Bottega
Please note: Wine tastings are on hold for now
Free Friday night wine tastings from 5:30-8:30pm make The Wine Bottega a popular Boston destination for fans of this small North End neighborhood shop's specialty: natural wine made with clean farming and no chemical additives or intervention that also tastes fantastic. The wines come from around the world, and despite its size, The Wine Bottega packs in a huge variety. Each week's tasting wines are discounted: 10% off if you buy one bottle, 20% if you buy 3.
341 Hanover Street, North End; 617-227-6607; website
The Urban Grape
Free tastings, usually each week, give you plenty of reasons to visit Urban Grape in the South End. Almost all tastings involve wine. Some also give you the opportunity to sample craft beer from local breweries such as Night Shift and Lamplighter, especially during Oktoberfest celebrations in September and October.
303 Columbus Ave, 857-250-2509; website
City Winery Tasting Flights in Boston's West End
City Winery (80 Beverly Street) near TD Garden in Boston's West End is a restaurant/concert/winery complex that sources its own grapes from North and South America, makes its own wine in its New York and Chicago wineries, and even keeps a selection of their 400+ wines on tap. You can try them in tasting flights by the glass, and by the bottle in their restaurant, at their wine bar, or even during a concert.
For a special experience, you can also try their wine in their tasting room or on one of their winery tours, which also includes tastings. Reservations required - book on their website.
Boston Wine School Classes, Dinners, & Events
Please note: The information below is from before the pandemic. Currently BWS is online only (except for a wine-tasting trip to Tuscany that has already sold out). Check their website for news about resuming the in-person format.
Renowned wine writer/critic Jonathon Alsop founded the Boston Wine School, where he's been teaching about wine and food classes since 2000. Choose from a wide variety of wine tasting classes, with or without dinner.
Most tasting classes and dinners let you sample 6+ different wines with the perfect food accompaniments. If you're visiting Boston, this could be your most memorable experience! Check the Boston Wine School website for a calendar of tastings and dinners..
Not Wine, But . . . Boston Brewery Tours & Pub Crawls
Let's face it - even though Boston offers some great wine tasting bars and events, in reality Boston has always been a beer town.
Check out Boston's Oktoberfest events during September & October
Maybe it's because the city's original Puritan settlers drank beer instead of water, or maybe its because of our many sports teams - but for whatever reason, brewery tours and pub crawls rule.
And in fairness, our craft beer scene has exploded in recent years, with increasingly unique and tasty creations - so it's well-worth exploring. So if you prefer beer, try these tours and enjoy the brew:
More Articles about Where to Drink & Eat in Boston
- Where to sample the brew at Boston's Historic Taverns
- Where to dine and drink in Boston's Theatre District
- Explore the restaurants in Fort Point, Boston's booming foodie destination
- Where to find trendy contemporary Asian cuisine & cocktails in Boston's Chinatown
- Cookbooks by Boston Chefs
- Guide to Boston's restaurants by cuisine and city neighborhood
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