Toronto’s best new bottle shops

0
15


Tommy’s

1977 Dundas St. W., 416-530-1430, @tommyswinebarto

Weeks before the first lockdown, Tim Morse and Jamal Watson were carefully turning an old convenience store into their dream coffee-shop-slash-wine-bar. Though the timing for a wine bar was unfortunate, the bottle-shop iteration of Tommy’s has nestled perfectly into the Dundas West strip. Expect the comforts of a good local—laid-back energy, stellar espresso—but with fridges of boozy (and non-boozy) bevvies.

The vibe: Pop in for a coffee, end up leaving with at least two bottles of wine
The snacks: Patties from Patty King and ham sandwiches from Donna’s
The selection: Strongly local, and more than just bottles of wine: bottled cocktails from Solid Olive; wine-beer hybrids from Hamilton’s Merit Brewing; and Ramona, a canned wine by sommelier Jordan Salcito

Grape Crush

1166 Dundas St. W., 416-519-6661, grapecrush.wine

Started in the early days of the pandemic as a temporary holdover for SoSo Food Club, a Chinese restaurant and cocktail bar, the bottle shop took on a life of its own and became permanent. Grape Crush goes all in on funk with disco-inflected design and towering walls of budget-friendly bottles, plus a line of tablets for no-contact in-person ordering.

The vibe: Neon lights and sequins galore
The snacks: Spicy chips and small-batch hot sauce
The selection: Look for magnums of amphora-raised orange wine from Cos in Sicily, or more contemplative wines from Tuscany’s Le Ragnaie and Languedoc’s Frédéric Brouca

Paradise Grapevine

841 Bloor St. W., 416-536-7178, paradisegrapevine.com

While we were all baking sourdough back in March and April, the Paradise Grapevine team were making wine in Southern Ontario. You can now purchase the fruits of their labour, along with bottles from small, biodynamic producers around the world, at this Bloorcourt wine bar turned bottle shop. You can even shop their cellar online.

The vibe: A backyard wine garden with a bottle shop to match
The snacks: House-made kimchi with gratis chips
The selection: Crammed with both elegant Old World wines and trendier picks. Look for Maison en Belles Lies’s precise Burgundian whites, or saucy bottles from Ontario’s Hidden Bench winery

Happy Coffee and Wine

1304 King St. W., 416-588-3000, happycoffeeandwine.com

This low-key neighbourhood joint run by pals Edward Anderson, Madeleine Hayles and Sam Kim nails both the day drinks (good espresso) and the night drinks (good wine), along with a never-boring selection of snacks. They have a knack for stocking natural and biodynamic bottles that are hard to find anywhere else in the city, along with approachable, jargon-free tasting notes to help guide the way.

The vibe: A liquid refuge for caffeine and wine seekers
The snacks: A glorious shrimp burger on a brioche bun
The selection: Look for whites from Italy’s Cascina Tavijn that channel, per the notes, “that squinty feeling when the sun gets in your eyes”; or an Argentine bonarda from Escala Humana, a “chubby little red to cuddle within the deep winter”

Bevi Birra

7500 Hwy 27, Unit 20, Woodbridge, 905-605-6677, bevi-birra.com

Far from the patchwork of wine bars that dot the west end, Woodbridge’s Bevi Birra is serving up a well-conceived selection of wines, beers and ciders north of the 407. The newly minted bottle shop is the bricks-and-mortar extension of the Small Batch Dispatch beer club, so expect coveted beers and wines from an all-Canadian roster of producers.

The vibe: A haven for beer-loving wine drinkers
The snacks: Peppery taralli crackers
The selection: Look for Bastet Rosé, an aged sour beer from Cambridge’s Barncat Artisan Ales, fermented with pinot noir and poured into a wine bottle

Uncle Mikey’s Bodega

1597 Dundas St. W., 416-537-8973, unclemikeysbodega.com

Where diners once sat shoulder to shoulder eating chef Mike Kim’s European-influenced Korean fare, you’ll now find shelves packed with instant noodles, banchan, Korean chips and red bean buns. And, oh yeah, a selection of natural wines and sakes that pair perfectly with all of the above. Don’t worry, you can still get Uncle Mikey’s signature noodles, too.

The vibe: A revved-up Korean-style bodega
The snacks: Made-to-order Korean fried chicken sandwiches and stir-fried tteokbokki
The selection: A vast array of stellar sakes, and wines from cult producers like Italy’s Radikon and Austria’s Gut Oggau

Bottega Volo

17 St. Nicholas St., 416-928-0018, barvolo.com; 612 College St., 416-531-7373, birreriavolo.com

The Morana family need little introduction in Toronto. Their Birreria Volo and the recently reborn Bar Volo both pivoted for the pandemic to become little wine, beer and snack-slinging outposts called Bottega Volo. For avowed beer drinkers looking to discover their inner oenophile, this is the spot.

The vibe: Sacred ground for beer-to-wine converts
The snacks: Fresh pasta from Famiglia Baldassarre and tins of scallops and squid from Spain
The selection: A boundary-blurring rainbow of imported reds, whites, oranges and pinks, plus lambics, lambruscos and local wine and beer options

Boxcar Social

1210 Yonge St., 4 Boulton Ave., 844-726-9227, boxcarsocial.ca

Both locations of this stalwart coffee shop have thrown themselves into the world of small natural wine producers (while still carefully preparing your pour-overs). They’re also home to spectacular cans of beer from niche Ontario producers like Sonnen Hill, Willibald and Half Hours on Earth. The stock rotates regularly, so expect bottles of red to fill the shelves before peppy whites and sparklers return.

The vibe: A perfect little bottle shop with excellent coffee
The snacks: Chips, plus the Yonge Street location carries fresh pasta and grazing options from Cheese Boutique
The selection: A glittering array of pet-nats, rieslings and exclusive releases from their pals at Pearl Morrisette

Grape Glass

1247 Dundas St. W., 416-546-2151, grapewitches.com

After hosting wine pop-ups all over the city, Nicole Campbell and Krysta Oben—the Grape Witches—set up their perma-store early in the pandemic in the former Milk Glass space. It’s the spot for hip wine aficionados seeking chic bottles (while they last) from the likes of California’s Martha Stoumen and Forlorn Hope, with interior decor by a brigade of West End artists.

The vibe: A clubhouse for cool wine folk
The snacks: It varies, but think bagels from Primrose, schnitzel from Taverne Bernhardt’s and bento boxes from Nanoka Kitchen
The selection: An embarrassment of riches, from Old World classics to quirks from Slovakia and Quebec

Midfield Wine Bar

1434 Dundas St. W., 647-345-7005 midfieldwine.com

Long a staple of Dundas West, Midfield has set the standard for west-end wine bars since 2012. Giuseppe Anile’s pivot to takeaway features rows and rows of bottles from the stacked cellar, plus friendly faces and all the necessary fixings for an elevated snacking-and-sipping situation. The packed charcuterie fridge is a painter’s palette of cheese, house-cured meats, olives and spreads.

The vibe: All the highlights of a great wine bar, ready to be taken home
The snacks: House-made terrines, doughnuts and focaccia
The selection: Virtually unparalleled, for special occasions or simpler times. Look for bottles from icons Frank Cornelissen and Claus Preisinger