A-Z Rating of Shanghai's Newest Wine Bars: Part III

By Sophie Steiner, October 9, 2021

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In the last two years Shanghai has moved deep into the double digits with venues touting themselves as 'French wine bars.' Emphasis on natural wines, organic wines, New World wines, Old World wines, low-intervention wines – you name it – it's become a thing. Who knew the baby born out of Shanghai's COVID era would be a wine bar obsession?

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So what is it about all these venues that make them stand out? Is it synergy – that corporate buzz word that actually rings true when it comes to the continuity that flows between a curated wine list, expertly executed dishes and elegant design? Or is it more simple than that – luck, location, lineup of wines (or investors backing the venue)?

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We compiled a roundup of recently opened wine bars that have done it right, converting us, along with the entire population of Shanghai, into Parisian wannabes.... or simply winos.

While this list mainly focuses on the newbies (wine bars that have sprouted up in the last two years), that is not to say we have forgotten about some of the 'oldies but goodies.' Places like Le Verre a VinWine UniverseLe VinVinisim and Épicerie & Caviste 62 Le Bec are definitely still worth a stop-in. 

But, let's be honest, everyone likes to focus on the hottest newcomers. So here’s the A-Z list, Part III.


Pudao Wines

The second outpost of Pudao Wines opened alongside the floodgates of Shankang Li; there was nothing, then two months later, there was everything – and loads of people.

Just like their original location at Ferguson Lane that sees the alleys, rooftops and terraces brimming with people at all hours, Pudao in Jing'an is there for any and all wine needs at every hour. 

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Image courtesy of Pudao Wines

Different from other wine bars on this list, Pudao focuses only on said wine. They figure there are enough food spots nearby to fit your fancy, so they don't feel the need to furnish a menu; they allow you to bring in whatever you want.

If your night involves crushing Bubba's BBQ ribs or an entire Homeslice pizza while simultaneously taking down a bottle or two, "be our guest," is Pudao's attitude. 

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The space is divided into three sections, each lined floor to ceiling with bottles of wine and filled with ample seating at all heights. That's because Pudao in Shangkang Li offers one of the largest – if not the largest – wine selection in Shanghai, with over 1,200 vintages at mid-to-high range retail prices. 

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Image courtesy of Pudao Wines

There's the main display floor, the bar that offers nearly thirty bottles by the glass at any given day and the tasting room for private events or – even better – for impressing a date.

The second the weather is nice, counter seating nearly doubles as sippers prefer to lounge both inside and outside the venue, glass in hand. 

See a listing for Pudao Wines

Rōzo

Rōzo is a chic wine bar with a tight menu of Latin-inspired plates accented by a creative Asian touch. The wine cellar in the back offers just over 100 distinct vintages, exhibited on shelves like rare books in the most treasured kind of library. The only thing missing is a rolling ladder to reach those tippity top ledges. 

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The décor is dim, sleek and sexy. Or is that just the wispy red flames undulating from the central strip of the 16-seater main dining table? Something about fire in unexpected places seems equal parts dangerous and sultry. Bonus points if it reflects off illuminated wine glasses. 

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There is no set focus of the wine program. “Whatever we try and like, we stock. Simple as that,” offers operating partner Matthieu Thomas (Must GrillBlancheDr. WineRaw Eatery), in between sips of a punchy Cabernet from Loire Valley.  

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The menu is tight – 10 dishes plus meat and cheese platters, and the plan is only to add a handful more in the coming months. Like the wine program, the food, designed by consulting chef Carlos Sotomayor (Blue Plate Consulting), is direct and to the point. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Rōzo also offers The Voyage (RMB150), a welcoming introductory ‘course’ into the world of wine and food pairing, something to spark conversation between guests, no matter the extent of their previous wine knowledge.

To showcase idiosyncratic wines, every month will see a rotating selection of three glasses paired with three mini tartines. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Rōzo

SOiF

A pocket-sized natural wine bar with an eclectic wine selection, European fusion nibbles and a vibe that screams it's time to drink, SOiF is busy every hour of the night. The collaboration between Li Ze, Francois Séguin and William Zhu makes this biodynamic and organic wine bar a success. 

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Freddy Raoult put together the food menu, which is anything but an afterthought. Although tight in size, each dish is memorable, well thought out and perfect for wine pairing – the food does not come second to the wine in this case. 

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The wine list is eclectic, funky and always changing, a major inspiration for the natural wine movement in Shanghai. Plus, the glass cellar display room feels like the adult version of Willy Wonka. If we lick the rafters do they taste more like Pinot or Chardonnay?

Wines by the glass go for RMB68-88 with bottles spanning mainly RMB400-850. 

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A popular hangout amongst the industry crowd, it's often hard to get a seat, but well worth the effort as every time we've gone, it's been exactly what we are looking for.

See a listing for SOiF.

theWarehouse

Coming at you from Li Ze (OttimoSOiF), theWarehouse is another novel concept recently added to the team’s growing empire of locations. Located on Yongjia Lu, just below Ottimo in Surpass Court, this spot is actually a two-for-one, split across unit 217 and 312, for a distinctive dine and sip experience in both. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

That said, theWarehouse is not necessarily a restaurant. In fact, as the name suggests, it’s a glorified warehouse. Think Beer Lady, but for wine and centrally located – hundreds of wine labels in a ‘factory décor’ retail setting, with charcuterie and nibbles for those choosing to drink-in rather than take away.

It’s a bottle shop with a wine bar experience. 

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The main business, however, is delivery. All wines can be ordered on Elema, Meituan and the like, plus their own wine delivery platform, powered through Youzan.

Bottles generally go for RMB350-800, with a strong focus on Burgundy wines. You’ll find a few New World wines, some natural wines and even a cheeky bottle of sake or two sprinkled throughout.  

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The food menu, curated by chef Freddy Raolt (The NestSOiF), is tight and modest, centering fully around – you guessed it – wine pairing. Think cheese, meat, rillete and other nibbles that make for ideal picnic fare.

Read a full review hereSee a listing for theWarehouse


READ MORE: A-Z Rating of Shanghai's Newest Wine Bars: Part I

And...

READ MORE: A-Z Rating of Shanghai's Newest Wine Bars: Part II

So which is the best? Well, that's a complicated answer. Each fits its own unique niche. There are options that are all about the wine, and others that are better for food.

Some push a high-end date night vibe, while others are ideal for casual weekday sipping. A few on the list we opt for pre-dinner, yet a handful we tend to visit more for a nightcap.

We're just here to present the info – you pick your poison.

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