For tantalizing wines, good food, and great value, look no farther than one of Paris's many wine bars. The past 10 years have seen an explosion of a new kind of bar à vins, or, more accurately, cave à manger—essentially amplified wineshops with a few tables, which serve a plate or two of regional cheeses or artisanal charcuterie to complement the wines. The new generation of cavistes stood apart as champions of natural wines, which are unfiltered, contain minimal or no added sulfites, and are often bio (organic) or grown biodynamically, that is, according to a specific set of agricultural guidelines. As the natural-wine movement dovetailed with the crusade toward simply prepared foods made from quality seasonal ingredients, the contemporary wine bar was born. Indeed, the food in a handful of wine bars now rivals that in the best Paris bistros—and can be a lot more affordable. Whatever the emphasis, the upward trajectory of the wine bar has had a major hand in reinvigorating Paris's wine-and-food scene.
Wine bars usually keep restaurant hours (noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 11 pm); some combine with an épicerie, stay open all day, and close earlier in the evening; others offer a late-night scene. Although casual, most wine bars nowadays require reservations, so call in advance, especially if Sunday brunch is available—still a rarity in Paris. Look for the "wine bar" designation in our restaurant listings.