Wine bars are plentiful in the state of Texas. From El Paso, all the way to Dallas, down to Austin, then to San Antonio, and over to Houston—the Lone Star State offers wine connoisseurs much from which to choose. Wine bars are also the perfect spot for private events. Here are five that are unique in their own ways
Mystic Grape Wine Bar and Suds, El Paso
Soda-pop dispensers have been around for years. Wine dispensers have not. “We’re the only place in town that has Italian winedispensing machines. We have four of them. They were manufactured and shipped from Italy,” says Santiago Cabral, co-owner with his wife Nicole of Mystic Grape Wine Bar and Suds, which opened in 2012.
The wine bottles are loaded into the dispensers and pressurized with an inert gas to keep the wine fresh for up to 24 days. There are 48 wines on tap in the dispensers, which can be dispensed by the ounce, half glass or whole glass. Wine is also available by the bottle; Mystic Grape carries 140 bottles from all over the world, which are rotated through the wine dispensers. Guests can purchase a wine-tasting card and sample wine from the bar’s wine-dispensing machines or they can order wine flights and have them served to their table.
Mystic Grape’s menu features a selection of tapas and entrées. “We have a full dinner menu,” says Cabral, “because if you’re going to drink a good bottle of wine, you need to have dinner with it.” Beer and cocktails are also available.
The main dining room can accommodate up to 90 guests for a seated dinner and up to 105 for a cocktail party. Four semiprivate rooms can each seat up to six to eight guests comfortably. “Many patrons remark that our décor and atmosphere reminds them of Europe or the vineyard tasting rooms of California,” Cabral says.
The Red Room Lounge, Austin
If the red lightbulb is on, it’s open. If it’s off, it’s not. The Red Room Lounge is a traditional speakeasy.
“It’s underground, kind of down the stairs,” says Event Coordinator Sarah Neve. “We play mellow background music, kind of lesserknown, contemporary, soft stuff. We try to be a pretty relaxed, kind of hidden environment downtown. There are lots of leather couches, a lot of little nooks.”
The Red Room is literally a wine bar in that it serves wine, and wine only. There are over 200 labels, including the popular Wildcatter Cabernet. “I think we have one of the most extensive lists of collectible, rare and fine wines,” says Neve.
The main lounge can accommodate up to 30 guests seated and up to 60 standing. A private dining room can host up to 20 guests both seated and standing. Groups can rent the entire venue, which can accommodate up to 80 guests seated and up to 180 standing. Cheese and charcuterie platters and wine tastings, too, can be provided. Groups can use a caterer of their choice, including the Vince Young Steakhouse next door.
The Alcove, Dallas
Tucked beneath a sprawling apartment complex in the city’s trendy Uptown district, The Alcove is a cozy lounge that shuns the stereotypical upper-crust feel of some wine bars by specializing in affordable and under-theradar wines from around the world.
Open since 2009, The Alcove has a casual, relaxed feel with comfy couches inside and a pet-friendly patio.
“It’s ‘come as you are and have fun,’” Supervisor Luiz Vasquez says.
The Alcove has 40 wines, most of them from North and South America and Italy. Two of the more popular are the Peirano Estate Chardonnay and the 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon.
Specialty beer is available as well, with a selection of 45 bottle types and 16 drafts that constantly rotate.
A semiprivate event space can accommodate up to 20 guests seated and up to 50 standing. Light appetizers can be provided or groups can use their own caterer.
La Carafe, Houston
It is the city’s oldest commercial building and is believed to be the oldest bar in town.
Built in 1860, La Carafe opened in the mid-1950s and is on the National Register for Historic Places.
Sixty years later, it still has an old-time vibe, what with the tunes of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Townes Van Zandt and the Beatles blasting from the jukebox.
“We also have a lot of old paintings on the walls,” Manager Patrick Ryan says, adding that two towers of melted candle wax are on either side of the cash register. “They’ve got chiseled, awesome features.”
La Carafe has some 25 wines from all over the world. “We also have a wide selection of local craft beers,” Ryan says.
An upstairs bar area can accommodate up to 49 guests for a standing affair.
Max’s Wine Dive, San Antonio
“Fried chicken and champagne … Why the hell NOT?!”
It’s not just a slogan—it’s what defines Max’s Wine Dive. Open since 2011, the restaurant and wine bar features delicious gourmet comfort food to-go with a full menu for lunch and dinner, and spectacular wines from across the globe.
“We have upwards of 60 wines from as far away as Spain, Italy, France and even Australia,” says sous chef James Carlyon, adding that Inglenook ‘Cask’ Cabernet Sauvignon and Chocolate Acre Cabernet Sauvignon are two favorites. The atmosphere is “kind of dark and comfortable,” Carlyon says. “We have a jukebox, too.”
A semiprivate room in the back can accommodate up to 40 guests seated and up to 50 standing.