While I hate to bid goodbye to summer (and the excuse to eat two gelatos a day), I love to leverage the cooler weather as a reason to hibernate more — with a glass of wine in hand.
I love wine. I loved California wine when I lived in California, and I love Italian wine now that I am based in Italy. I have taken a few short course on Italian wine, including at Vino Roma and a wine and food pairing through Roscioli.
These types of classes are great for expanding wine knowledge, but sometimes you just want to settle in with a bottle of wine in a charming Rome setting.
While Rome is currently blighted by an explosion of bars lacking in charm or personality, there are also wonderful wine bars and enotecas hidden throughout the city.
Based on my extensive imbibing, here are the best wine bars in Rome (with a handy map)!
- Al Vino Al Vino was my first favorite wine bar in Rome. It is small and friendly bar in the heart of Monti. It is easy to walk by the front door, but once inside you have a cozy front room with a short counter (about 4 seats) and a few tables. Call ahead if you would like to have a seat by the window, but don’t despair if the front is full because there is more seating (though less charmingly decorated) in the back. The wine list at Al Vino Al Vino is more like a book, but the daily offerings of wine by the glass never disappoint. However, go early in the evening to start with a small snack – particularly the caponata – on the side with your choice of wine. (Find Al Vino Al Vino at Via dei Serpente, 19).
- Litro is no longer the new wine bar in Rome, but it is more recent than many of the classic enotecas that dot the center of the city. In a residential area of Monteverde, Litro offers one of the best selections of natural wine in Rome. They also have fantastic cocktails and it is my favorite place in Rome for a Hugo (prosecco, elderflower cordial and mint). Litro’s food is exceptional, but do not expect traditional Italian plates. The menu is short and the servings are on the smaller side, but range from salmon sashimi to butter and anchovy bruschetta. Salads and sandwiches round out the offerings for a fresh bite to go with your wine by the glass. Come with friends for an excuse to sit outside on the patio during the summer months and order a bottle of natural wine. The bar is a bit above the rest of Rome, but a great excuse to explore the often overlooked Monteverde area. (Located at Via Fratelli Bonnet, 5).
- Beppe e i suoi formaggi is all about cheese. Well, wine and cheese. But mainly cheese. And all from Piemonte. As you enter the long shop in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, you are greeted by a long cheese counter, then more cheese displayed in their spiffy new fridges along the back, as well as to the right shelves stocked with specialty ingredients. Enter the dining room area and explain to the friendly staff the kind of wine and the types of cheese you prefer. They will pick the perfect glass and bring a sampling platter. (Found at Via di Santa Maria del Pianto, 9A/11).
- Il Vinaietto: I have brought many a visiting friend to this tiny wine shop near Campo dei Fiori. Il Vinaietto is a little enigma of a wine bar that I want to peel apart and understand better. With barely any indoor seating (all space is allocated for wine), you must elbow your way to the bar to order. Glasses start around €3.50 at this no frills bar. The best part is lounging outside, leaning against the wall, and sipping away while people watching on the street. (Located at Via del Monte della Farina, 38)
- Il Goccetto: Probably my current favorite wine bar in Rome. Il Goccetto is in one of the most beautiful parts of the city, just off Via Giulia. The tiny space always has a low buzz to it, as neighbors and friends meet to reconnect over a bit of vino. At the entrance, a small glass covered counter displays the snacks you can order a la carte. I love the oven baked tomatoes with mozzarella – a kind of wintery caprese. The cozy bar is perfect for cooler nights. During the summer, find a place on the steps outside the shop. (Address: Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14)
- Il Sorì: For my first three years in Rome, I lived in San Lorenzo. While I wound up meeting friends over pizza and beer at Formula 1 most nights, I also always loved the close feel of Il Sorì. The tiny enoteca is a great place to stop for wine in a Roman neighborhood that is just off the beaten track. Many of Rome’s wine bars focus on Italian wines (naturally) but Il Sorì also offers a good selection of international wines, particularly French. The eye-catching floor-to-ceiling arch packed with bottles is merely a bonus. (Via dei Volsci, 51)
- Bibenda Wine Concept: It was Sarah, who gives wine tours, who first took me to Bibenda Wine Concept a few years ago. Most recently, at the annual natural wine makers exhibition, everyone told me I could find their wines at Wine Concept. The bright, modern space specializes in natural wines. Found in the small neighborhood beyond the Colosseum, the central location is also pretty unbeatable. Stop in for a drink, and have one of the sommeliers help you pick out a few bottles to enjoy later. (Via Capo d’Africa, 21)
- Enoteca Cavour 313: this incredibly central enoteca is steps from the Roman Forum and boasts more that 1,000 bottles of wines. The space has been a wine store since 1935, but the ambiance is totally updated. Cavour 313 is also one of the wine bars with the most substantial restaurant-style menus so head here if you want a full meal like beef braised in Barolo. Tagliere are also available for lighter snacking with a glass of vino on the side. (Located at Via Cavour, 313).
- Cul de Sac is like, pretty ok and sometimes quite good. The location is fantastic. It is just outside of Palazzo Braschi, a few seconds around the corner from Piazza Navona. It can be fun (and nerve wracking) to sit inside the galley-style wine bar and watch staff use claws to grab bottles for shelving above patrons’ heads. I prefer to sit outside, at one of the small tables shaded by umbrellas off the sidewalk. With no kitchen on site, I also tend to stick to cheese and meats (and there are plenty of local Lazio specialities to choose from). Cul de Sac is best with friends so bring a couple and pick out a bottle. (Address: Piazza di Pasquino, 73)
- Enoteca Il Piccolo dal 1980: just a few doors up from Cul de Sac is Il Piccolo. The true-to-its-name small wine bar sneaks as many tables as possible onto the cobblestones outside the door. Cars skim by close, but the locals and regulars hardly notice. Ask for a few salted chips or peanuts on the side with your wine by the glass. Or, settled into the eclectic mix of chairs and mismatched tables to share a bottle of Etna red. I love how unpretentious and totally relaxed this wine bar feels. (Found at Via del Governo Vecchio, 74).
There you have it. My essay on where to drink wine in Rome and why.
Did I miss any? I will update this guide to Rome’s best wine bars regularly as I continue to sample their wares.
Here is the map to guide to enoteca hopping (with a few crowd favorites not on the list thrown in):