Wine bars work magic with unique ambience

Gerald Rich

When it comes to wine bars, you’ve got to have three things to set yourself apart: service, selection and scene. If you don’t have those ingredients, then you might as well just buy yourself a nice bottle and party it up with your friends. However, a wine bar can be like your home-away-from-home if it offers more than just a good glass of the fermented grape.

Here’s a selection of a few unique Austin wine bars suitable for a wide range of people, from vino novices to complete oenophiles:

Aviary Lounge, 2110 S. Lamar Blvd.

Next to the Black Sheep Lodge on South Lamar Boulevard sits this hidden gem. In the middle of Aviary, a dimly lit home-decor store offering an artsy mix of furnishings, is a small wine bar. Run by Marco Fiorilo and his wife, the bar offers a small but excellent and affordable selection of wines and imported beers — for those less wooed by the blessed fruit — as well as some mouth-watering foie gras.

What makes Aviary unique, though, is Fiorilo. Giving everything a personal touch, Aviary’s constantly changing wine selection is hand-picked by him; its location allows for more relaxation than your average bar. Aviary has a big screen for projecting whatever movie you bring Tuesday and foreign flicks on Thursday, in addition to its daily specials. You can spread out on the furniture and the crowd is usually very friendly. If you want to go where everyone will know your name, try Aviary Lounge.

Mulberry, 360 Nueces St.

Located a couple of streets away from the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge near downtown, Mulberry offers a smaller, more casual downtown getaway. Swing by at happy hour and pop open your laptop as you sip on some bubbly, because Mulberry’s a great study spot for those who want a little glass to get through those required math or language courses.

With a nice patio area, people can sit outside and enjoy a drink or stay inside and sit at the large, white marble bar.

Their seasonal wine selection is large, but the smaller space means you’re never too far to ask for a refill or for some food. Chef Zach Northcutt definitely knows how to complement his drinks with some tasty treats. Try his succulent and sweet “Devils on Horseback,” bacon-wrapped figs and honey, to bring out the fruitier flavors of a dry red wine.

Vino Vino, 4119 Guadalupe St.

The closest wine bar to campus, Vino Vino offers a convenient way to pick from a large selection of red, rose, white or sparkling wine, and was awarded “Best Wine Selection” for the past two years by The Austin Chronicle.

The soft orange lighting also creates a romantic interior and intimate date spot set against walls lined by wine racks. You can sit at the bar or grab a table for a full meal with your wine. Vino Vino’s fruity watermelon salad with tomatoes, pistachios, arugula and lime pairs well with a sweet, summery white wine. The larger space also allows for a number of bands and musicians to perform while you sip your drink.