Swirl, Sniff, Sip: The Best Wine Bars in Rhode Island

You don’t have to be a wine snob to appreciate a wine bar.

Providence Wine Bar
This wine lover’s hotspot in Wayland Square occupies the space where Spoons and the Olive Tap used to be, and the short-lived Mercer’s Deli after that. Opened by Ben Lloyd, chef/owner of the Salted Slate, this restaurant serves dozens of wines by the glass, craft beers, sherry and some sake. Order wine by flavor or by varietal, which come from the expected France, Italy and California but also less-appreciated wine growing regions like Austria and Greece.
Wine bites: A small but high-quality menu is available with options like freshly shaved jamon iberico, black pepper gnocchi and the requisite raw bar. 485 Angell St., Providence, 443-5249, pvdwinebar.com

Learn about wine at Fortnight.

Fortnight Wine Bar
It would be easy to classify Fortnight just as a wine bar. The co-op bar in downtown Providence, which is owned in part by everyone who works there, serves a constantly changing selection of biodynamic, naturally produced wines from a wine list hundreds of bottles long as well as a dynamic food menu that focus on locally sourced ingredients from land and sea. Don’t ignore the intensively curated beer selection, with Altbier and Belgian Quadrupel and Berlinerweisse and lots of other things you probably can’t pronounce unless you’re really into the suds.
Wine bites: Fortnight has a new chef at the helm, Nikhil Navnish Naiker, who is focusing on themed dinners on specific nights, curated with ingredients from local farms and fishermen for outdoor dining and takeout. Thursday is Bistro Night, featuring grilled meats, vegetables and seafood. Sunday is Sunday Night Raw, featuring Rhode Island seafood that may include items like raw yellowfin tuna, fluke or tautog and grilled squid. On any other night, guests enjoy fresh bread served with cheese, charcuterie, ‘nduja, olives and tinned fish. Stay up to date on the latest menus at Instagram.com/fortnightpvd. 187 Mathewson St., Providence, 401-572-3535, fortnightpvd.com

Meritage
When the restaurant is named after a red wine varietal, you know you’re going to get a decent glass (or bottle — no judgement here). Meritage — the wine, if you’re curious, actually rhymes with heritage — serves seafood, steaks, pasta and grilled pizzas. Bring the beer lover in your life for local selections on tap plus a solid craft bottle menu.
Wine bites: Meritage serves a happy hour menu every day before 6 p.m. in the bar and lounge area so try some new things, both in the glass and on the plate. 5454 Post Rd., East Greenwich, 401-884-1255, meritageri.com

Tavolo Wine Bar and Tuscan Grille
If a wine list includes ratings and scores from authorities like Robert Parker and Wine Enthusiast, you know you’ve got something that’s specially curated. Tavolo also pours wine in three-ounce, six-ounce and nine-ounce servings, and has more than forty by the glass, including some high-end wines that are difficult to find in single servings.
Wine bites: If you skip the pasta at this Italian restaurant, you aren’t living right. 289 Atwells Ave., Providence, 401-274-6000; 970 Douglas Pike, Smithfield, 401-349-4979; 2099 Post Rd., Warwick, 401-384-7573, tavolowinebar.com

Editor’s note: This story was updated from a previous version published in 2019.