When we last headed deeper into self-imposed winter hibernation, I thought it might be fun to compile a selection of my favourite Nice wine bars, to encourage readers to occasionally pop out of their winter dens.
In the eight years that I’ve been living in this city, the wine bar landscape has only slightly evolved: there are the institutions (save for the fantastic Cave Wilson on rue Gubernatis, rumoured to reopen under new ownership, so watch this space) while every year throws up a few new hot spots.
From the Carré d’Or, Place Wilson, Place Garibaldi, Vieux Nice and the Port, each bar à vin has a speciality and would appeal to different folks at different times, depending on your mood and envie.
● Cave Bianchi Wine shop Best for: Wine tasting
Cave Bianchi has a trump up its rather historic sleeve: not one, but two underground cellars which ooze that wonderfully damp vintage wine atmosphere. Sadly, you can’t just walk in off the street and experience said cellars for yourself, but you can book a tasting in them. The welcoming staff also propose a daily taster in the shop itself, to whet your appetite for the more serious a and pricey tastings held below.
● Cave de la Tour Wine shop, wine bar Best for: Local wines
To me, Cave de la Tour (pictured top) is the quintessential French wine bar. Cranky owner? Check! Tables made from used wine barrels? Check! Locals staring down anyone foreign who dares enter? Check! Yet it still is my preferred wine bar in Nice. It doesn’t hurt that almost every wine from the Alpes-Maritimes is stocked on their shelves or that the outdoor tables are perfect for summer sipping while the interior is all cosy and warm on winter afternoons. Spend enough time here and you might even manage to make the cranky owner crack a smile. Now there’s a result!
● Cave Caprioglio Wine shop Best for: Atmosphere and history
Not a wine bar as such but rather an institution that can’t be ignored, this family-run wine shop in the heart of Vieux Nice has been in business for over a century and little has changed since the doors first swung open. Inducing the same euphoria in adults that sweet shops do in children, Caprioglio’s shelves are lined with a remarkable wine selection and they also offer vin à la tireuse, where you bring in an empty bottle and they’ll fill it to the brim with wine for a rather small sum. It may not be the best quality but, hey, it might just prove the perfect match for a sweltering niçois evening (remember those?).
16 rue de la Prefecture. Tues‐Sat 8h-13h and 15h-19h30; Sun 8h00-13h.
● Vinivore Wine bar, restaurant Best for: Organic, biodynamic, natural wines
Spearheading the restaurant movement, Vinivore has made the rather unassuming rue Lascaris the place to dine in Nice. Focusing on local produce, the menu’s seasonal fare never disappoints and the wine selection, chosen by owner Bonaventure Blankstein, is guaranteed to include a few grape varieties and growing regions that you have never heard of. This is one place to ask for their recommendations and then enjoy your new discoveries.
10 rue Lascaris. Tues‐Fri 12h-14h and 19h30-22h30; Sat 19h30-22h30h. www.vinivore.fr
● Les Compagnons de la Grappe Wine bar, restaurant Best for: Rare wines and vintages
A good choice on Place Garibaldi is Les Compagnons de la Grappe, tucked away on the south‐eastern corner of the square at the start of rue Catherine Segurane. It’s hard to give this relative newcomer just one label; instead I’ll reel off a few reasons to visit; big, comfy chairs made for losing an hour or two in the company of friends, musical evenings, a great lunch menu and an incredible cellar housing some of the most evocative names in the wine world.
● La Petite Syrah Wine shop, wine bar, bistro Best for: Organic, natural wines
La Petite Syrah had an Andy Warhol moment a few years ago, when a pointed sign with scaled prices for a coffee, depending on how politely you ordered it, went viral worldwide and garnered this small wine bar its 15 minutes of fame. The attention may have quietened down these days but the sign is still up, alongside a handpicked wine selection, which demonstrates owner Fabrice Pepino’s love for the fermented grape, especially organic and natural wines. Fabrice’s wife is South American and her influence often shines through in the food menu.
● La Part des Anges Wine shop, wine bar, bistro Best for: Organic, biodynamic wines
You’ll find one of the city’s most atmospheric wine bars situated across from the pretty square Place Wilson, east of avenue Jean Médecin. The focus here is very much on organic and biodynamic wines, and you’ll find names from all over France and beyond. Choose a bottle to take home or enjoy in situ, amongst the wooden wine crates full of tempting discoveries. Hungry? A great spot for lunch with many assiettes and an ever‐changing bistro menu.
● Cave 35 Wine bar, wine shop Best for: Late night, trendy
Along with Yolo/Flume (below), Cave 35 is Nice’s trendiest nightspot, making it the place to be when you’re looking for a hipster New York or London vibe. A great wine list helps, as do the cheese and charcuterie plates for when you get peckish.
35 rue de la Buffa. Tues-Sat 18h-00h30.
● Yolo/Flume Wine bar Best for: Late night, trendy
Fighting it out with Cave 35 (above) for the title of Nice’s coolest nightspot, Yolo (which takes over Flume’s 1re étage at the weekend) is one of Nice’s most centrally located bars, two blocks west of avenue Jean Médecin. After work, Yolo is the spot for an intimate drink (or two) with a selection that includes a fair share of Nice’s own Bellet wines available by the bottle. On Friday and Saturday, the action moves upstairs, with an industrial vibe and a similarly fashionable crowd at Flume.