A good wine list is just one of many things that make for a good wine bar. It has to be well-lit -- but not bright -- and offer good food, too. It has to seem lively, but not loud. And whatever the size of the list, from 10 selections to 1,000, the staff has to be able to talk intelligently about what's on offer. Here's our guide to the best wine bars in Manhattan, with the appropriate occasion for each. --TED LOOS. Special to Newsday
TEN BELLS, 247 Broome St.
Occasion: Staying under the radar. (Oct. 6, 2012)
It's dark and moody at Ten Bells, and difficult to read the selections scrawled on the chalkboard. But this Lower East Side haunt is a great place to lose yourself and leave the world behind. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Good snacks abound -- including a raw bar with daily oyster specials -- and the list is a very smart, European-only compendium. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Order a glass of Hidalgo Manzanilla "La Gitana" Sherry for $8 and adopt a world-weary look. You'll fit right in. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Info: 212-228-4450, thetenbells.typepad.com. (Oct. 6, 2012)
CORKBUZZ WINE STUDIO, 13 E. 13th St.
Occasion: First date (Feb. 8, 2012)
A new entry, Corkbuzz Wine Studio is one of the best in town -- beautiful, warm lighting envelops the large bar area, and it's not clattery with noise. You can sit for a delicious bite (crispy pig ears; chicken confit) at the bar or at the communal tables in the back. (Feb. 8, 2012)
Patrons are talking wine here, so get a glass of Craggy Range Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels (a merlot blend from New Zealand) 2010 for $13 and join the conversation, or take one of the wine classes they offer. "All About Orange Wines" is $45. (Feb. 8, 2012)
Chicken sweet potato at Corkbuzz. Info: 646-873-6071, corkbuzz.com.
MORRELL WINE BAR AND CAFE, 1 Rockefeller Plaza, at 49th Street
Occasion: Important business and meeting the parents. A grown-up, midtown vibe reigns here at this well-traveled establishment looking out on Rockefeller Plaza. The attached wine store means that Morrell excels in high-end offerings, particularly from France, Italy and California. A $28 glass of Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005 sounds expensive, but it's a great way to try a top sip without buying a whole bottle. Info: 212-262-7700, morrellwinebar.com.
TERROIR, 413 E. 12th St.
Occasion: Reuniting with college friends. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Run by the folks from the nearby restaurant Hearth, Terroir started in the East Village and has now expanded to five locations as far away as Park Slope and the High Line. Unrestrained ebullience and a sense of humor fuels this place, and its apt motto is "The elitist wine bar for everyone." It's geeky but fun. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Riesling is a particular obsession at Terroir, so kick back with a $13 glass of Hermann Wiemer Riesling 2009 from the Finger Lakes, paired with a bruschetta of tomato, basil, mozzarella and egg. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Somewhere between bartender and sommelier, Terroir's self-proclaimed "cork dork" Russell Lichtenthal pours a glass for a customer. Info: 646-602-1300, restauranthearth.com/terrior. (Oct. 6, 2012)
THE TANGLED VINE, 434 Amsterdam Ave.
Occasion: Wednesdays. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Once a week at the top-shelf The Tangled Vine, any bottle from their huge wine list is available by the glass -- as long as you commit to two glasses. (Oct. 6, 2012)
On any other night, go for Bodegas Breton "Lorinon" Rioja Gran Reserva 2005 for $21. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Small producers are the focus at The Tangled Vine, and the atmosphere is Upper-West-Side-friendly. (Oct. 6, 2012)
Tangled Vine chef Brandon Robinson prepares a crudo of red snapper and tomatoes with an arugula puree. 646-863-3896, tangledvinebar.com. (Oct. 6, 2012)