We can’t think of an occasion that can’t be improved by a decent glass of wine, and luckily Shanghai has its fair share of cozy bars specializing in affairs of the grape. Here are our favorites around the city, with a focus on offerings by the glass.
1. XO Bar
Vibe: The first brick and mortar outpost from wine delivery app, BottlesXO, this bar in the former French Concession specializes in boutique European wine labels at particularly friendly prices. How friendly? RMB25 friendly. The vibe is casual and relaxed, with high stools and tables both inside and on the street. There's also a menu of Italian food courtesy of Solo restaurant on the second floor.
Imbibe: Pricier tipple runs from RMB35-55, with the odd RMB80-100 for Champagne and a few reds, but the real draw here is that all the wines are available by glass (and bottle). Specializes in mainly old world wines, from small boutique labels.
Thursday: wine (up to 14 different lables) and canapé tasting from 7-9pm, RMB150 per person with BottlesXO sign up.
Wine of the week: RMB100 discount from regular bottle price.
2. Cape Grape
Vibe: Having recently decamped from Yongkang to Wuding Lu, this South African establishment is not only cheery and inviting, but the pours are generous too. With seating for 30 indoors and about 20 on the patio, it’s great for both large groups and casual dates.
Imbibe: RMB45-70/glass (about 15). Specializing in South African wines.
Happy Hour: Daily 12-8pm, wines from RMB35/glass. Ladies’ Night: Wednesday 6-11pm (buy one get one free).
Vibe: With two popular locations, this approachable wine bar and lounge is neither overly ornate nor haughty. Drawing crowds of post-work drinkers who often linger for dinner, food options range from cheese and cold cut platters, pastas, tapas, salads and sandwiches – we highly recommend the croque madame. See also Enoterra's Anfu Lu branch.
Imbibe: RMB58-70/glass (about 10). Primarily Old World, with a selection of French Grand Crus.
Happy hour: Daily, 4-8pm, wines range from RMB29-34/glass.
4. Project Wine
Vibe: Dark, industrial and mysterious, Project Wine acts as a hideaway for a late night tipple with friends or a date (couches for cuddling are on the second floor). A small selection of food, such as pizza, is available for those who want something to nibble on.
Imbibe: RMB48/glass (approx. four). Global selection.
Happy Hour: Daily 5-10pm, buy one get one on glasses. RMB288/two bottles. Sunday live music from 9-11pm.
Vibe: With a stellar bird’s-eye view of the former French Concession, Kartel is the spot for after work wine – where groups frequently wind up staying late into the night on weekends. Come wintertime, they set up a cozy ‘chalet’ bar on the rooftop terrace, complete with hot mulled wine and Alpine favorites like cheese raclette.
Imbibe: RMB45-65/glass (about 15). Organic and Old World, with a focus on French.
Happy Hour: Daily 6-8pm, RMB25-30/glass.
6. Dr. Wine
Vibe: Sultry and intimate inside, Fumin Lu’s Dr Wine is an unimpeachably good spot for wine drinkers both seasoned and novice, and with something to suit every budget. Over two floors, the place features long wooden tables, bar seating and comfy leather couches – expect them to be fairly populated on weekends.
Imbibe: 11 available by glass (RMB50-55), bottles from RMB128. Global selection including New Zealand, America, Europe, and China.
Happy Hour: daily; 12 oysters for RMB98 before 8pm.
Vibe: Doing exactly what its name promises (French for ‘the glass of wine’) this classy yet cool little bar is sister to Le Vin further up the road. Le Verre offers a curated daily selection of red and white wines by the glass, with many more available by bottle. The vibe here is usually on the tranquil side; stepping up several notches come the weekend.
Imbibe: From RMB42/glass. Global selection.
Vibe: This intimate and low-lit wine bar is another choice spot in Jing'an, and offers a loungey atmosphere in which to partake in your choice of the grape. Being Italian, they offer a selection of cold cuts, cheese and pizza with which to pair your wine. A good choice if you're trying to fly under the radar.
Imbibe: house wine from RMB38 for moscato, sirah from RMB40. Wines by bottle from RMB198, Italian focused selection.
Vibe: This upmarket mansion, developed by the Roosevelt family (yes, the Roosevelt family) on the Bund is home to one of the best stocked wine bars in the city thanks to its arsenal of over 4,000 vintages. Leave the fancier wines to the VIPs (some of whom have their own dedicated wine storage embedded into the walls) and enjoy Roosevelt's by the glass selection in the quiet lounge-like atmosphere, which benefits from stellar views.
Imbibe: 26 wines by glass, from RMB96-185, bottles from RMB528.
Vibe: For those who like a lot of choice when it comes to wine, it's hard to think of a better place than this upscale wine bar and fine dining restaurant on the Bund. They've got over 750 labels of wine from around the world, 50 different Champagnes and 37 wines by the glass. You could easily come here just for the wine (and the view), but if dining, partake of the RMB398 six-course seasonal menu by Chef Francisco Araya.
Imbibe: Global, decent selection of American and New Zealand wines, particularly strong collection of Burgundy and Bordeaux reds. Wine by glass from RMB70, by bottle from RMB300.
11. Il Vino
Vibe: This quaint Italian bar across from Kartel offers a variety of wines primarily from Italy, apparently imported by the owner himself. Great for a date or catch up with friends, the food menu offers plenty of plates, pizzas and platters to pair with your wine or spritz.
Imbibe: five by glass from RMB35 (two red, two white and one Champagne). Bottles from RMB200. Global selection with emphasis on Italian wines.
It isn't just his country's food chef Nicolas Le Bec is passionate about, he's also on a mission to shine a spotlight on French wine in China – often selling it at lower mark up than other F&B establishments. His latest venture Épicerie 62 – part grocery and bodega, part moody wine bar and cellar – is testament to this, offering an enormous collection of bottles priced at retail (with an RMB100 opening fee if you're drinking it in the bar).
Make sure you order the RMB30 croque monsieur and a chocolate pudding pot to go along with your wine, and perhaps a pot of Le Bec's signature foie gras terrine with rustic bread (RMB250) if you're feeling indulgent.
Imbibe: three wines by the glass, hundreds by the bottle, from RMB180. Exclusively French selection.
With a focus on biodynamic and organic wines, there's a lot to like about this enigmatic and affordable little bar and bistro in the former French Concession. There's also a menu of interesting fusion tapas plates, cheeses and charcuterie. An excellent place for dates or small group dinners.
Imbibe: 10 by the glass (revolving selecting), selection includes old world and new world wines, from RMB50.