I have to admit finding ten wine bars in the Baltimore area wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. (Where are Vespa and Spike & Charlie's when I need them?)
I wanted to include places that weren't primarily restaurants, or if they were primarily restaurants, also had a separate wine bar. Obviously my list varies wildly in how many wines are offered and what else is on tap (flights, tastings, knowledgeable bartenders), but the idea is that the focus is wine at all of these.
Here's my list; please feel free to disagree or let me know about ones I missed: ...
*Aida Wine Bar, 7185 A Gateway Drive, Columbia, 410-953-0500. This is the comfort food version of the wine bar, homey and comfortable. It offers a large list of half-bottles (they say one of the largest in Maryland) and an unusual guarantee: If you don't like it, they take it back. It doesn't have to be corked.
*Annabell's Fine Wine Shop & Bar, 8210 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-750-8800. The specialty is a wide-ranging assortment of wines with specials to lure you in, like $1 off wines by the glass during weekday happy hours, and on Wednesdays, three cheeses and three wines for $15.
*Chesapeake Wine Co., 2400 Boston St., No. 112, Canton, 410-522-4556. The urban shabby chic bar, in the middle of a retail shop, offers 24 wines by the glass. Sparkling wines are a specialty: There are always 5 by the glass. Since my last visit, the bar has become nonsmoking. Good move!
*Cinghiale, 822 Lancaster St. in Harbor East, 410-547-8282. The new enoteca just launched a Tuesday special: 50 percent off bottles in the wine bar between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. If you like Italian wines, there are over 40 by the glass. Four wine flights are currently being offered.
*Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 720 Aliceanna St., 410-332-1666. I know this is an odd choice, but there are 100 wines offered by the glass at the bar, and that must count for something, right?
*Grand Cru, 527 E. Belvedere Ave., Belvedere Square, 410-464-1944. The draw isn't just 45 wines by the glass served in Riedel stemware, the hip contemporary decor, or the wine-friendly snacks. It's that you can bring in food from anywhere in the Belvedere Market to go with your wine.
*Helen's Garden, 2908 O'Donnell St., Canton, 410-276-2233. The expansion into the row house next door means that this charmingly funky restaurant now has a separate wine bar with supposedly the world's longest happy hour: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (reduced prices on glasses of wine).
*Iron Bridge Wine Co., 10435 Route 108, Columbia, 410-997-3456. The food sometimes obscures the fact that this is a very nice wine bar (if you can get a seat) with more than 30 premium wines by the glass and bottles available at retail plus a corkage fee. The biggest problem is that it's too popular for its own good.
*Metropolitan Coffee House and Wine Bar, 902 S. Charles St., Federal Hill, 410-234-0235. The specialty here is an eclectic list of moderately priced wines, many from small producers, by the bottle or glass. There's a new bar upstairs where weekly wine tastings are held (five tastes for $15 every Tuesday).
*Wine Market, 921 Fort Ave., Locust Point, 410-244-6166. The retail shop and the restaurant sometimes overshadow the wine bar, which has 30 or so wines by the glass (the list changes almost weekly), bottles for a $9 corkage fee from the shop and 3- and 6-ounce pours so you can create your own flights.
And although this doesn't quite count because you have to buy a plane ticket to drink there, I do want to mention:
*Vino Volo, Concourse A, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. This is such a civilized way to deal with a delayed flight. I think you have to be flying Southwest to take advantage of it. You can get wine by the glass, wine flights, or bottles you can take (unopened) on the plane.
(Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer)