Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor!

November 02, 2015
Going out for “drinks” in New Orleans’ French Quarter may be one of the most fun, social occasions to enjoy, especially when the evening’s young, and so are you! Of course we mean, young-at-heart! If you can lift a glass, your evening is already off to a great start!

The cocktails are amazing, the draft beers are fresh and often local, and the wine? …. Well, the wine is divine! Fine wines are available in just about every dining establishment in the Quarter and also offer cocktails and beer to suit the varied preferences in your entourage.

However if you are a wine enthusiast, no need to look any further than the following top spots in the Quarter, where you can wine-and-dine on by-the-glass options and a bounty of bar bites and as you plot your next move for the evening’s entertainment.

Relaxing and not intimidating, this French Quarter bar in New Orleans is surrounded by grand restaurants and entertainment destinations but once inside, you will immediately sense you are in a cool and comfortable environment.

At Patrick’s Bar Vin, the casual, even clubby, atmosphere is welcoming, not daunting. The same is true for every member of the staff. It all begins with the man whose name is on the door, Patrick Van Hoorebeek, truly a French Quarter legend. Affable, knowledgeable, attuned to what the visitor desires, and offering a wide range of selections certain to please the fussiest oenophile and the thirstiest traveler.

Patrick, a native of Brussels, Belgium, has a European view of hospitality. The guest should be at ease and the staff should be attentive, all in suitable surroundings.

Completely versed in wines, beers and ports, Patrick is at the ready with suggestions based on the mood and the occasion. Pricing is fair and the breadth of the offerings throughout the list is amazing. From all corners of the world, using every popular grape varietal, Patrick has constructed a list that pleases every palate.

Many wines on the extensive list are available by the glass or bottle. Some popular choices are Pierre Chainier “Les Hospices” Sancerre from France’s Loire Valley, KIlka Malbec from Argentina and Moises Vieux Carre Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Port is a mainstay and Patrick is proud to offer Sandeman’s, a top-quality house located on the Douro River in Oporto in Portugal. Patrick recommends Sandeman’s Founders Reserve, Tawny, Ruby and 20-year-old Ports. And, if you need an accompaniment to any of theses fine wines, cheese boards are available daily.

There is much to enjoy at Patrick’s Bar Vin, especially settling back in historic French Quarter comfort while allowing the frenzy of the Quarter to remain outside.

Happy Hours are Monday-Thursday 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. with house wine $4, well drinks, $4 and domestic beer, $2. Don’t forget to ask for Patrick’s “Best Kept Secret (his daily special)!”

Patrick’s Bar Vin, 730 Bienville St., New Orleans (504) 200-3180

Patrons in hot pursuit of a wine experience may have a change of appetite once they arrive at their destination and find possibly the most delectable pastry and confection boutique on the planet. But there’s no cause for alarm because you can have your cake and drink wine, too! Champagne, anyone?1

Salon by Sucre is a patisserie, confectionary, and gelato boutique on the first floor and a classy, sassy and sophisticated dining room, and lounge upstairs. The restaurant’s owners Tariq Hanna and Joel Dondis operate several other Sucre venues around New Orleans, but this is their first “savory” establishment. The haute cuisine menu is as playful as it is stylish, with marvelous small plates to enjoy along with a glass of wine or two from the vast selections available on the wine list.

A perfect beginning for your visit to Salon could include ordering a glass of Charles Duret Brut Rose’ Cremant from Bourgogne. The house roasted nibbles, comprised of Marcona almonds, southern candied pecans and spiced walnuts would make a nice pairing.

Or, try the thrice-fried Belgian fries with American paddlefish caviar and chive cream as you experience the fine mousse from your Duret Rose’.

Or, have a red wine such as France’s Chateau La Rame Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend accompanied by little Wagyu beef sliderettes or perhaps a charcuterie board.

In addition, the general manager and wine director, Kristin Estadt, oversees the amazing wine list and will be happy to make recommendations to suit every patron’s tastes.

Salon by Sucre, 622 Conti St., New Orleans (504) 267-7098

Originally erected in 1809, the two-story building that houses today’s Orleans’ Grapevine, initially was the site of the Quarter’s first Creole Bistro, “The Restaurant d’Orleans.”

Today, owned and operated by business team Pam Fortner and Earl Bernhardt, the building has been lovingly restored but still holds the charm of its past glory. Located a half block behind the St. Louis Cathedral, the Grapevine draws local residents and neighbors as well as visitor interest.

The large U shaped bar, a few communal tables, cozy seating at smaller tables around the periphery, the player piano with retro discs, an often lively crowd, and a fabulous courtyard, add to the atmospheric charm.

A glance at the wine list is indicative of the depth of varietals from all the great wine regions of the world. The Grapevine also offers wine flights for tasting. For example, 3 pours are provided with each of the following, Rose’, Old World white, Aromatic White, Pinot Noir. Old World red and Spanish, all priced at $14 per flight.

As a bistro, the Grapevine offers several Petit Fare items to accompany any of your wine selections. The cheese boards are comprised from the chef’s daily selections. Among the other options for pairing are a small Baked Brie, U.S. Prime Black Angus Medallions, Saffron Mussels, Shrimp Remoulade and Grapevine Crab Cakes.

The Grapevine also offers two “bacon” Happy Hour periods daily: 4 p.m.-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-12 a.m. where bacon is served with your drinks. IN addition, a selection of 4 wines are available for $5 per glass and $18 per bottle during Happy Hours. Drop by…. and you’ll be back for more!

Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar & Bistro, 720 Orleans Ave. (504) 523-1930

The dictionary defines “tableau” as a dramatic picture, an artistic arrangement, a scene. Nothing could better define the comfortable, yet elegantly styled bar and restaurant in a corner of Jackson Square, the beating heart of America’s most European-like city.

The ever-changing scenery of people, going about their lives; of visitors enjoying a real change of pace from the life from which they came; musicians, street performers, psychics and tarot card readers plying their respective crafts, all played out against the backdrop of buildings dating from the late 1700s and the early 1800s in a square punctuated with a grand statue of the hero of the Battle of New Orleans (1815) and the eventual seventh president of these United States, Andrew Jackson.

Dickie Brennan’s Tableau Restaurant and Bar provides a front-row view to life in a very special place, both through the open French doors on the first floor, and from the wrap-around balcony that highlights the second story.

Inside, appetizing yet comfortable, food and drink connect for the quintessential New Orleans tableau.

Small plates such as Deviled Eggs and Bacon, Filet Mignon Sliders, Truffle Fries, Burrata Bruschetta, Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Cochon de Lait Spring Rolls, and Fried Eggplant complement the Wines on Tap program. That’s right, Tableau selects fine wines from France, California, Chile and Argentina then places them into a tap program to preserve freshness and decrease the by-the-glass cost.

There is also an aggressive beer on tap program with popular local craft brands as well as the more well-known international labels. In New Orleans, cocktails are given a lot of respect and Tableau’s mixologists can prepare your favorite, just the way you like it, or they will assist you in finding something new and delicious.

Happy Hour prices are in effect daily from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. on tap wine, tap beer, four specified $5 Classic Cocktails, and small plate accompaniments for $6. Some favorite by-the-glass wine options of note: France’s Sabine Rose’ from Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, Justin Sauvignon Blanc from California’s Central Coast, and Carneros Highway Pinot Noir.

If you choose to fully indulge in an authentic New Orleans dining experience, from mid-day to late in the evening that too will be something special in this very special place.

Dickie Brennan’s Tableau, a restaurant and bar that lives up to its name and its reputation.

Tableau, 616 St. Peter St., New Orleans (504) 934-3463

NOTE: New Orleans is a city where restaurant or bar patrons can take their drinks – in “go cups” out to the street. As you’re strolling along, drink-in-hand, keep in mind, however, that although most places will provide a go-cup when you’re leaving, whereas, other establishments won’t allow you in with a go-cup. So, be prepared as you approach your next wine adventure to either dispose of the beverage, or chug it! The choice is yours, Cheers!