Locals eagerly await the opening of this retail operation, wine bar and entertainment complex in North Naples. Originally slated for a July 4, 2015, debut, the date has now been pushed back to late August. When it does open, the locally owned Paradise Wine will boast an indoor-outdoor bar in front with 14 taps for craft beer, a wine-tasting bar in back and a fulltime sommelier on staff. It plans live entertainment every weekend on the patio, food noshes to go with the wine, and classes in wine and food pairing and other aspects of wine imbibing. It is the flagship operation for a chain the owners hope to expand throughout the state of Florida.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: One of its two bars is strictly devoted to wine tasting; guests can sip while they shop for bottles to take home.
Chelle's expert tip: Stay tuned for special events such as make-your-own Bloody Mary on Sundays.
Barbatella's bar is a congenial spot where the bar itself and a community table create space for mingling with friends old and new. As a sister property to Sea Salt just up the street, it shares the latter's extensive wine cellar and off-site aging facility. What Barbatella has that Sea Salt does not however, is an Enomatic machine, which dispenses 32 different kinds of wine by the glass without fear of them losing their peak flavor. The selection of wines by the bottle and by the glass lean heavily toward Italian vintages to go with its style of pizza, pasta and other Italian specialties.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Barbatella's Enomatic machine allows the bar to serve up to 100 wines by the glass.
Chelle's expert tip: Barbatella offers wine tastings by the 1-, 3- and 6-ounce servings.
The original location of a chain that has grown to three in the Naples area, Naples Flatbread goes far beyond flatbread and wine on its menus. It boasts a full liquor selection at its small indoor bar. Its two-page wine menu lists more than a dozen wines by the glass, including sparkling wines and some unusual varietals. It bills itself as a "family restaurant," so wining really is secondary. As far as food, its fire roasted chicken wings are signature. It also offers a nice variety of salads, including Tropical Thai and the Julius Caesar with the addition of crispy prosciutto. Flatbreads and pizzas – both available with gluten free crusts – come in exciting and unusual combinations as well as classics. Calzones, burgers, paninis, wraps, pasta and Italian meat and seafood entrees complete the comprehensive menu.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: With "wine bar" in its name, it makes a commitment to offering a nice variety of out-of-the-ordinary wines.
Chelle's expert tip: The flatbreads and desserts are delish. So plan on eating with your sipping.
An out-of-the-box steakhouse, its courtyard seating area turns into a hot music and dance arena as night falls. Opened in December 2014, it also touts its reputation for craft cocktails, some of which fill glass orbs overhanging the outdoor bar. They include the Continental Innovation, blended with Death's Door gin, Cocchi Americano Bianco, Carpano Bianco and grapefruit bitters. Made to order craft cocktails include a Sazarac stirred with Old Overholt rye whiskey, yellow chartreuse, absinthe, and Peychaud's bitters; and The Church Key – Four Roses small batch bourbon, blueberry-sage shrub and lemon. The Continental's savvy wine menu lists 25 by the glass and devotes one page plus each to "Chardonnay in Every Style," "Burgundian Descendants," and "Reserve List" bottles. Bar and late-night menus serve out-of-the-ordinary bar food until midnight.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Its wine list is not only wide ranged, it is also thoughtfully curated and uniquely organized.
Chelle's expert tip: Thursday night is Half-Price Wine Night for bottles under $100.
There's "wine" in its name, but Avenue Wine Cafe also is proud of the craft beers from around the world that it stocks in its showcase refrigerator and pours from the taps – more than a dozen draught beers in all. The wine list is small, but it circles the globe with such selections as Italian prosecco, French Sancerre, German Riesling, Argentine Malbec, Spanish Tempranillo, California Hahn Pinot Noir and Washington Boom Boom Syrah. All 30-some vintages are sold by the glass. The café also sells cheese and charcuterie plates for customers sipping inside or out on the patio, plus there are cigars for sale.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Small but globally stocked, it pours wines by the glass and craft draught and bottled beers.
Chelle's expert tip: Check the website for this week's "fridge feature" beer.
The gorgeous parlor setting at the Wine Loft Bar & Restaurant feels at once elegant and homey. It hosts live entertainment every Thursday, Friday and Saturday plus jazz musicians for its Sunday brunch each week. Of course fine wines are the tipple of choice, but the bar carries a full stock of beers and liquor. The restaurant serves meals until the bar closes, which is midnight on week days and 1 a.m. of Friday and Saturday nights. The menu keeps it light with appetizers, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, small plates and desserts. Dishes such as crab and spinach dip, strawberry salad, fig and prosciutto flatbread, tenderloin medallions with blue cheese and turtle lava cake pair well with wines.
Bleu Provence is the only restaurant in the greater Naples area to win Wine Spectator's Grand Award. The petite French restaurant is all about wine (it sells only wine and beer), and boasts its own retail Bleu Cellar store next door. Owner Jacques Cariot is a wine expert and is happy to make wine suggestions based upon your meal. He travels around the world to visit wineries each year and returns with a stellar wine selection possible and the history of each one to share with interested patrons. The Cave is home to more than 30,000 bottles, representing more than 3,000 different wines.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: In 2015, Bleu Provence won the Wine Spectator Grand Award – only the 74th restaurant in the world to do so.
Chelle's expert tip: Follow Bleu Cellar on Instagram or sign up for its e-mail newsletter to learn about specials and tastings.
Sea Salt's wine room looks like it's bulging with wines, but that's not even the half of it. The restaurant also owns a storage location where it ages some of its more robust red wines – lots of big Italians. It carries 50 varieties of Italian wines alone and hundreds of others – more than 5,000 bottles from all over the world in inventory. About 30 of these are available by the glass, which you can enjoy at the indoor-outdoor bar or at your table. Sommelier Liset Zelaya, a certified specialist of wine through the Society of Wine Educators and certified sommelier through the Master Court of Sommeliers, carefully curates the wine list. She and Chef-Owner Fabrizio Aielli team together to vet the finest wines from around the world and pair them with the menu, which tends toward fine Mediterranean in style.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Sea Salt's vast 25-page menu carries everything from affordable Californias to hard-to-find Euro varietals.
Chelle's expert tip: Subscribe to Sea Salt's e-mail newsletter to learn about frequent special wine events.
One of the region's finest dining experiences, Angelina's wine selection matches its cuisine in variety and excellence. You face its commitment to wine the minute you walk into the front door and see its 30 foot glassed tower of wines. The restaurant's hand-picked list features wine from all around the world, with a special focus on Italian producers to pair with its regional Italian cuisine. Most wines come from small, family owned wineries. Ask the sommelier to suggest a perfect vintage to pair with your dinner, or have a seat in the cozy bar to order from the 26 wines by the glass, more than 20 half bottles, uncountable full size bottles.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: An award-winning selection of wine occupies a three-story glass tower in the elegant, Old World-style dining room.
Chelle's expert tip: Angelina's summer prix fixe menu (through September) is $99 for two and includes a bottle of wine up to $50.
Blue walls, blue lights, blue tile, "deepblue" as the WiFi password, and a blue water wall feature: The effect of the ambiance at C Level Bistro & Wine Bar in Bonita Springs ironically can cure the deepest blues. The wine helps, too. On the sleek bar and high-top tables, blue bulbs light glass containers filled with faux ice cubes to give the illusion of wine buckets. Brilliant! Behind the bar, live music videos play on a flat screen TV set into a blue backlit wall of glass. High top tables surround the bar, typically filled by loyal fans who return often and are treated like family. They range from young professionals to winter snowbirds. Most come to eat dinner, but others sit at the bar and sip, perhaps order some tapas, and socialize. The wine list, of course, is vast. It includes unusual and little heard of wines, nearly 50 of which you can sample by the glass. There's also draft and bottled beers, including some craft beers.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: It boasts a stellar wine list of boutique and global varietals.
Chelle's expert tip: During happy hour (4:30-6:30 p.m.), select glasses are $5 each, the rest are $3 off; all draft and bottled beers are $3.