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Local Wine Experts Tell Us Where They Go for a Glass When They're Off Work

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Although wine tasting sounds like a vacation, for experts in the field it's a profession that requires a keen palate and intense focus. There are exams, inventory and a number of other factors that make being a wine pro in a city with an ever-expanding culinary scene much more taxing than the fees on a nice bottle of cabernet. Plus, there's always the occasional tasting guest who requires assistance. In short, sommeliers and wine business owners need a drink sometimes, too. And while intimidating jargon and strict tasting rules are often associated with the wine world, Eater got to chat with some down-to-earth sommeliers, wine bar owners and all-around oenophiles who tell us where they go for a glass of wine when they're off work. The rule: They can't choose the establishment with which they're associated.


Camerata [Photo Credit/Gary R. Wise]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

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5839 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 780-7352
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Vanessa Trevino Boyd, Wine Director at Philippe: “I like wandering into Pappa's with my assistant and finding a great bottle of Rhône for under $70— a little more if we want something with bottle age on it— plus sommelier Steven McDonald is the consummate host and one of the city's finest.”

2. Mezzanotte Ristorante

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13215 Grant Rd, Ste 1200
Cypress, TX 77429
(832) 717-7870
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Taylor Byrne Dodge, Executive Associate Publisher at My Table Magazine: "Mezzanotte Ristorante in Cypress surprised me with their diverse wine selection, which is more for the bottle-purchaser than the by-the-glass drinker. Philippe and Artisans both have an extensive and broad by-the-glass menu."

3. La Carafe

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813 Congress St
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 229-9399
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Mike Sammons, Owner of 13 Celsius: “I would have to say that my favorite wine bar in town is the newly opened Camerata. To me it's the only place in town that's willing to take some risks and offer things not everyone is familiar with. The staff does this without the usual pretentious attitude one often sees in the wine biz. That being said, La Carafe is still an old-time favorite too."

4. Camerata at Paulie's

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1830 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX
(713) 522-8466
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Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D., wine writer and author of DoBianchi.com: “My favorite spot to sip is Camerata, where the erudite meets über hip aestheticism (and they have a butt-load of groovy, funky natural wine).” Justin Vann, Owner of PSA Wines: "I go to 13 Celsius and Camerata when I'm drinking or tasting off the clock. They both have foundations built on classic wine styles, but definitely stock bleeding-edge esoteric selections too."

5. 13 Celsius

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3000 Caroline St
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 529-8466
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David Keck, Owner of Camerata: “Mike Sammons curates a really interesting list, and they’re primarily wines that we should support because they’re made by people as opposed to companies.” Samantha Porter, Sommelier at Osteria Mazzantini: "Like just about every other somm in town, 13 Celsius is my favorite wine bar. I worked there for over a year and it became like a second home to me...I love going in after work and feel like I am drinking at home rather than at a wine bar."

6. Underbelly

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1100 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
Jonathan Honefenger, Lead Sommelier at Richard's Liquors and Fine Wines: “Underbelly's bar area is a fun place to enjoy some great wines. It is convenient in the Montrose area: I can rent a bike to and from there, I can bring wine in if they don't carry the same bottle and when I'm ready for beer, there is always next door [Hay Merchant].”

7. The Tasting Room

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1101-18 Uptown Park Blvd
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 993-9800
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Tyler Fields, Vice President of Wine and Spirits for Morton’s and Oceanaire: “The Tasting Room at Uptown Park, I’ve been to three or four wine tastings there in their back rooms, and they do an exceptional job, great value. And their wine selection is the best that I’ve found in Houston.”

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1. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

5839 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057
Vanessa Trevino Boyd, Wine Director at Philippe: “I like wandering into Pappa's with my assistant and finding a great bottle of Rhône for under $70— a little more if we want something with bottle age on it— plus sommelier Steven McDonald is the consummate host and one of the city's finest.”
5839 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77057

2. Mezzanotte Ristorante

13215 Grant Rd, Ste 1200, Cypress, TX 77429
Taylor Byrne Dodge, Executive Associate Publisher at My Table Magazine: "Mezzanotte Ristorante in Cypress surprised me with their diverse wine selection, which is more for the bottle-purchaser than the by-the-glass drinker. Philippe and Artisans both have an extensive and broad by-the-glass menu."
13215 Grant Rd, Ste 1200
Cypress, TX 77429

3. La Carafe

813 Congress St, Houston, TX 77002
Mike Sammons, Owner of 13 Celsius: “I would have to say that my favorite wine bar in town is the newly opened Camerata. To me it's the only place in town that's willing to take some risks and offer things not everyone is familiar with. The staff does this without the usual pretentious attitude one often sees in the wine biz. That being said, La Carafe is still an old-time favorite too."
813 Congress St
Houston, TX 77002

4. Camerata at Paulie's

1830 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX
Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D., wine writer and author of DoBianchi.com: “My favorite spot to sip is Camerata, where the erudite meets über hip aestheticism (and they have a butt-load of groovy, funky natural wine).” Justin Vann, Owner of PSA Wines: "I go to 13 Celsius and Camerata when I'm drinking or tasting off the clock. They both have foundations built on classic wine styles, but definitely stock bleeding-edge esoteric selections too."
1830 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX

5. 13 Celsius

3000 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004
David Keck, Owner of Camerata: “Mike Sammons curates a really interesting list, and they’re primarily wines that we should support because they’re made by people as opposed to companies.” Samantha Porter, Sommelier at Osteria Mazzantini: "Like just about every other somm in town, 13 Celsius is my favorite wine bar. I worked there for over a year and it became like a second home to me...I love going in after work and feel like I am drinking at home rather than at a wine bar."
3000 Caroline St
Houston, TX 77004

6. Underbelly

1100 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
Jonathan Honefenger, Lead Sommelier at Richard's Liquors and Fine Wines: “Underbelly's bar area is a fun place to enjoy some great wines. It is convenient in the Montrose area: I can rent a bike to and from there, I can bring wine in if they don't carry the same bottle and when I'm ready for beer, there is always next door [Hay Merchant].”
1100 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

7. The Tasting Room

1101-18 Uptown Park Blvd, Houston, TX 77056
Tyler Fields, Vice President of Wine and Spirits for Morton’s and Oceanaire: “The Tasting Room at Uptown Park, I’ve been to three or four wine tastings there in their back rooms, and they do an exceptional job, great value. And their wine selection is the best that I’ve found in Houston.”
1101-18 Uptown Park Blvd
Houston, TX 77056

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