Where to Drink Wine in Paris, According to a Local
Jon Bonné, the author of The New Wine Rules, spills his secrets for drinking well in the City of Light
If there's an essential new reference book to give people who are even remotely interested in wine (read: they drink it), it's Jon Bonné’s "The New Wine Rules: A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything you Need to Know." Not only does the Punch editor’s wit and probity shine consistently throughout the 89 easy-to-follow rules, but the guide is refreshingly free of the esoteric wine-splaining that so often defines oenological discussions and tends to intimidate the average drinker in the process.
When he isn’t commenting on varietals, the wines of California or researching his next book (spoiler: The New French Wine), Bonné can often be found hopping between his Paris pied-à-terre and his preferred wine regions across France. Here, the author shares his Parisian wine bar favorites:
For something intimate and hip
Septime La Cave: “What’s there to say? Still at the beating heart of all things fashionable in the 11th arrondissement, still cozy to a fault (i.e., tiny) and still offering one of the best and most balanced selections of predominantly naturalist, but not too extreme, bottles—a selection that, candidly, trumps what you’ll often get at its famous restaurant sister around the corner. And that’s why I’m there at least once a week when I’m in town.”
3 rue Basfroi, 75011
For the cozy Parisian experience
La Buvette: “Full disclosure—I’d be here all the time no matter what, since it’s basically the bar closest to my apartment. But Camille Fourmont has created such a quietly timeless space, with the utility of a bottle shop and the coziness of a neighborhood tabac, a mix that manages to exude all that is postmodern Paris. She provides a gentler interpretation of that Parisian natural-wine attitude, one that feels clubby but not exclusionary.”
67 rue Saint-Maur, 75011
For a massive (and thoughtful) collection
Vantre: “Not technically a wine bar, although we treat it as such by committing the unpardonable Parisian sin of sitting at the bar, San Francisco-style. But Marco Pelletier, formerly head sommelier at the Hotel Bristol, and his sommelier Thomas Simian, have put together an astonishing collection of wines, enough to fill several cellars nearby. Prices have gone up a bit but it’s also an opportunity to drink from one of the most thoughtful and ecumenical lists in Paris—anything from classic Burgundy like Barthod to some of the fringier comers from the Loire and Jura.”
19 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 75011
For an eclectic evening
La Cave du Paul Bert: "If its namesake bistro leans toward the classic, this wine bar takes its spirit from more experimentalist Le 6 Paul Bert, namely a set of selections that veers toward tragically-hip natural but doesn’t go too far—like fizzy drinks from thoughtful minimalists like the Bugey’s Gregoire Perron, alongside less-obvious picks from popular regions like the Jura. Also the sea-urchin tarama is worth the trip alone."
16 rue Paul Bert, 75011
For quality museum drinking
Les Grands Verres: "As arrondissements go, the 16th isn’t exactly modernist, but Quixotic Projects, the group behind Candelaria, Le Mary Celeste and Hero, has extended their bobo cred to create a stunning, geometric space inside the Palais de Tokyo. This isn’t an according-to-Hoyle wine bar, but the team’s wine list tackles the savvy side of natural (Eric Texier, Julien Labet)—going deep on each producer, with a full page of selections for each included inside the menu. The bar is stately and comfortable, and makes for some of the best drinking you’ll do inside a museum."
13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75016
Jon’s honorable mentions: Le Verre Volé, Le Repaire de Cartouche, Quedubon, La Chambre Noire, La Cave de Belleville, Willi's Wine Bar, and Chez La Vieille.