Order them by the glass, by the bottle or by flight — small pours of several wines, enabling you to compare several vintages from a single vineyard or the same type of wine from different regions or produced in different wineries.
A few wine bars present full restaurant menus, but most offer a limited choice of dishes designed to pair well with their wines. And, because they are such sociable and convivial places, wine bars often schedule live music.
Here is a rundown on several of the wine bars.
Bistro al Vino(15352 E. Ida Dr., Centennial, 303-400-3166, (www.bistroalvino.com) is a light-hearted, friendly and fun setting place with more than 100 wines, including 11 flights of three two-ounce pours. It also makes marvelous martinis.
The food is mostly upscale bar fare — mahi-mahi fish taco, duck liver mousse pâté, lettuce wraps and more — but there are also four-course prix fixe dinners with paired wines.
At Café Diva and Wine Bar (1855 Ski Time Square, Steamboat Springs, 970-871-0508, www.cafediva.com), wine and food get equal billing. Pass the glassed-in wine room to a table in one of two intimate dining rooms, one dominated by a congenial wine bar, or opt for the pleasant patio in warm weather. The seasonally changing menu is a contemporary fusion of French, Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, and the wine list runs to about 350 selections.
Corridor 44 (1433 Larimer St., Denver, 303-893-0044, (www.corridor44.com), Denver’s newest hotspot, serves 60 champagnes and sparkling wines (10 by the glass), plus spirits and a sophisticated and international selection of large and small plates, caviar service and fresh oysters.
The 44-foot corridor leading to the intimate and inviting champagne lounge inspired the name. The funky-chic décor runs to vintage furniture, animal-print fabrics, glittering chandeliers and mirrors.
Crú (1442 Larimer St., Denver, 303-893-9463, www.cruawinebar.com), stocks 300 wines (40 by the glass). In addition to 16 daily pre-selected wine flights, customers may mix and match their own.
A full menu of Northern California cuisine, heavily influenced by Italy and with Asian nuances, comes from the show kitchen. On the main, wine-bar level, a rolling ladder accesses the high wine wall. There is sidewalk seating and a rear patio for warm weather.
The Kitchen Café (1039 Pearl St., Boulder , 303-544-5973, www.thekitchencafe.com) is a fine breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant, with a happening, second-floor wine lounge. This long, urban-chic room has a handsome bar, some tables, and plenty of stand-up space for mixing, mingling and posturing.
The commendable wine selection of 600 labels (25 by the glass) is poured by half-a-dozen Level 1 sommeliers. Tapas, flatbreads from the wood-fired oven and a selection of appetizers are served or groups may order a family-style meal.
At Michelangelo’s: A Coffee & Wine Bar (1 Broadway, Denver, 303-733-0552, www.michelangelosdenver.com), a reproduction of the eponymous artist’s “Creation of Adam” from the Sistine Chapel presides over the small establishment that draws coffee drinkers and wine-lovers alike.
The bar pours 14 reds, seven whites, three ports and one each of sparkling, rosé and domestic and imported dessert wines. Michelangelo’s starts food service with a handful of breakfast items and then cranks up (slightly) with panini, a salad or two, a cheese selection, and several fine desserts.
At Crested Butte’s Princess Wine Bar (218 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, 970-349-0210, www.princesscb.com), après-skiers and wine-lovers rub elbows. This lively Victorian-style hangout is equally known for its Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning wines, single-malt Scotches, cognacs and fantastic martinis. Light snacks and espresso are also available, plus live music nightly in season.
Trios Enoteca (1730 Wynkoop St., Denver, 303-293-2887, www.triosenoteca.com), housed in a LoDo landmark, is clubby, stylish and romantic. Some 50 wines are available by the glass or in 2-ounce tasting portions and even more by the bottle, plus martinis and others spirits.
Tasty eclectic fare includes appetizers, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Drink, dine or canoodle to live jazz or blues, or hit the dance floor. A separate lounge purveys a large selection of premium cigars.
Wine reigns in the intimate and charming Village Cork (1300 S. Pearl St., Denver, 303-282-8399, www.villagecork.com). They pour three dozen red, white, sparkling, port and dessert wines, and satisfy the whetted appetite with a small selection of appetizers and cheese plates. After 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and after 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, glasses of wine from any bottle opened that evening are just $5.
Several wine bars offer full menus, but most offer a smaller selection of foods to pair with their wines.
Vines Wine Bar (19501 E. Main St., Parker, 303-736-8463, www.vinesweb.com) is a clean-lined, modern yet cozy spot, with a walk-in glass wine cellar and a fireplace. Owned by two certified sommeliers, Vines pours three dozen wines by the glass and prepares a tapas menu of scrumptious small plates.
The Wine Spot (Grand Hyatt Aspen, 415 Dean St. Aspen, 970-920-9463, www.thewinespot.net), located in the ritzy Grand Hyatt Aspen timeshare, stocks more than 350 wines (35 by the glass), with the greatest representation from France, Italy, California and the Pacific Northwest.
A selection of antipasti, cheese and other trays for sharing are available as well as paninis and tempting desserts. About 10 wines are under $10 a glass, which by Aspen standards puts it in the “affordable” category.
Boulder-based Claire Walter is an award-winning writer specializing in travel, food and snowsports. She has written for countless magazines and newspapers, and is the author of Culinary Colorado, a food-oriented guidebook. Her blog-inspired “Dining Diary” (www.culinary-colorado.com/dining.htm) shares her ongoing culinary experiences with fans of the book.
From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.